DreamWorks Studios

by Alex Westfall
-Courtesy of wholemovieinfo.com

Courtesy of wholemovieinfo.com (a)

DreamWorks Studios
100 Universal City Plaza Dr., Bldg. 5121
Universal City, CA 91608
P: (818) 733-9300
http://www.dreamworksstudios.com/


Key Executives

-Steven Spielberg, Principle Partner (b)

Steven Spielberg, Principle Partner (b)

Michael Wright, CEO (c)

Michael Wright, Chief Executive Officer (c)

Lyndsay Harding, CFO (d)

Lyndsay Harding, Chief Financial Officer (d)

-Jeff Small, President & COO (e)

Jeff Small, President & Chief Operating Officer (e)


Company Overview

DreamWorks Studios is an American film company originally founded in 1994 by partners Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. In its early years, the studio worked with several different film companies such as Universal, Sony, and 20th Century Fox. These collaborations saw much success by cranking out multiple critically acclaimed films such as the Academy Award winning American Beauty, Gladiator, and A Beautiful Mind. In 2005, Viacom, the parent company of Paramount Pictures, purchased DreamWorks for $1.6 billion. However, in 2008, DreamWorks decided it would end its deal with Paramount and signed on to a partnership with Indian investment firm Reliance ADA Group to produce its films. In addition to working with Reliance, DreamWorks also maintains a deal with the Walt Disney Company, who markets and distributes its films. [1] [2]


Financials

Because DreamWorks Studios is a private company, specific financial information is not exactly attainable. However, by analyzing the budgets and revenue from the studio’s recent films, one can have a good idea about how the company is doing. At the time of it’s deal with Reliance, it was a known fact that DreamWorks had quite the amount of debt, and the $600 million invested by the firm arguably saved the film company from going under. With the creation of it’s subsequent movies, DreamWorks was once again beginning to see success. In 2014, the studio released two films- Need for Speed and the One Hundred Foot Journey.

With a budget of $66 million, Need for Speed ended up bringing in $203.3 million in revenue- thanks to it being highly popular in foreign markets such as China and Russia. Clearly by making back more than three times it’s budget, the movie can be hailed as a

Need for Speed movie poster, courtesy of wikipedia.org

“Need for Speed” movie poster, courtesy of industrialcolor.com (f)

financial success for the studio. Despite garnering negative reviews, Need for Speed most likely drew all of its audience due to the internationally popular video game it was based off of. The movie’s action packed plot and showcase of fast cars was definitely aimed at a male audience ranging from 15-35, which is the exact demographic that plays the video game around the world. Seeing as the game has this existing wide audience, it makes sense that they flocked to see the film and brought in so much revenue.

Sticking with the trend, the One Hundred Foot Journey made a total of $88.8 million- which is

Hundred Foot Journey poster, courtesy of imdb.com (h)

“The Hundred Foot Journey” poster, courtesy of imdb.com (g)

four times it’s budget of $22 million. This success was most likely garnered by the film’s feel-good plot that is about something everyone can relate to- food. Additionally, it was produced by Oprah Winfrey and her company Harpo Productions. Seeing as Winfrey is so popular already (especially with women ages 25-64), she was probably able to draw in an even larger audience for the film by promoting it on her show, television network, etc.

Financially successful films such as these two are what has helped DreamWorks Studios escape from it’s initial early 2010s box office blunders such as Cowboys & Aliens and Fright Night– which just barely made back their budgets. [3] [4] [5] [6]



What’s Happening Now

As of Fall 2014, DreamWorks Studios has seen some huge changes with studio management and personnel. After seven years of acting as Chief Executive Officer and

Michael Wright, courtesy of online.wsj.com (g)
Michael Wright, courtesy of online.wsj.com (h)

Co-Principal Partner to Steven Spielberg, Stacey Snider left the company and was replaced by Michael Wright. Wright, who was formerly Head of Programming for TNT,TBS, and TCM, will begin his position as the new CEO starting on January 1st, 2015. He will report directly to Spielberg and will be in charge of all the creative aspects for the film side of the business. Although some are a bit weary that Wright’s television background will not translate well to the motion picture industry, Spielberg himself believes quite the contrary:

“He has a keen understanding of storytelling and how to deliver those stories in every shape and size, regardless of platform. I am delighted to welcome him.”

One thing is for sure, Wright’s background with edgier shows for TNT such as Major Crimes and the Last Ship is a likely indicator of what is in store for DreamWorks: more thrilling and grittier, adult-type content. Hopefully this new type of material will prove to even further revive the studio and bring in even more revenue.

Along with Wright, DreamWorks has also hired a new CFO- Lyndsay Harding from Evergreen Studios. Prior to working in the media and entertainment industry, Harding worked on Wall Street dealing with mergers and acquisitions for Goldman Sachs, and then in private equity for JPMorgan Chase. Her high business acumen will surely prove useful to the studio, as she will be able to tighten up budgets and continue decreasing debt. [7] [8]


For the Future

Within the next two years, DreamWorks is only planning on releasing two films: St. James Place and the BFG. Both films are currently in the early stages of production and are slated for releases in October 2015 and July 2016, respectively.

Hanks and Spielberg on set of St. James Place

Hanks and Spielberg on set of St. James Place, courtesy of brooklyndaily.com (i)

St. James Place will be directed by Spielberg with a screenplay written by Matt Charman- revised by the famed Joel and Ethan Coen. It is a cold war era spy thriller, based on the 1960 U-2 Incident, and will star Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda. Based on this lineup, the film appears as though it will do well, seeing as the brands that are often attached to Spielberg, the Coen brothers, and Tom Hanks are positive and successful. The sole fact that their names are headlining will be enough to draw in a large audience of adults 17-60, even if the movie itself turns out to be sub-par.

In addition to St. James Place, DreamWorks is also working on the BFG, a film that will

The BFG novel, courtesy of barnesandnoble.com (j)

The BFG novel, courtesy of barnesandnoble.com (j)

be based on the popular children’s book of the same name by Roald Dahl. The story follows a young girl and a friendly giant who go on a journey to vanquish evil giants who are threatening the human world. As of October, Mark Rylance, a three time Tony Award winner, has been cast to play the titular character. Because the book and its author are already so popular, the film will be sure to draw in mass audiences of children and their families. Its summer release is also a prime time, seeing as children will be out of school and more able to see the film in theaters. [9] [10] [11] [12]

Sources

[1] DreamWorks Studios – History, dreamworksstudios.com, RT: 11/29/14

[2] DreamWorks Studios – FAQ, dreamworksstudios.com, RT: 11/29/14

[3] Reliance Big in Talks with Spielberg’s DreamWorks, business-standard.com, RT: 11/29/14

[4] Box Office Mojo- Need for Speed, boxofficemojo.com, RT: 11/29/14

[5] Videogame ‘Need for Speed’ to be Turned into ‘Fast & Furious’-Style Franchise, indiewire.com, RT: 11/29/14

[6] Box Office Mojo- One Hundred Foot Journey, boxofficemojo.com, RT: 11/29/14

[7] Michael Wright to Replace Stacey Snider at DreamWorks as CEO, variety.com, RT: 11/29/14

[8] DreamWorks Taps Lyndsay Harding as CFO, variety.com, RT: 11/29/14

[9] Four Cast in Steven Spielberg’s Untitled Cold War Spy Thriller, dreamworksstudios.com, RT: 11/29/14

[10] Novice Screenwriter on Selling His First Script to Steven Spielberg, hollywoodreporter.com, RT: 11/29/14

[11] Steven Spielberg’s The BFG to be Released in 2016, telegraph.co.uk, RT: 11/29/14

[12] Mark Rylance Starring as ‘The BFG’ for Steve Spielberg, variety.com, RT: 11/29/14

Multimedia Sources

(a) DreamWorks Studios Logo, wholemovieinfo.com, RT: 11/29/14

(b) Steven Spielberg Photo & Info, dreamworksstudios.com, RT: 11/29/14

(c) Michael Wright Photo & Info, dreamworksstudios.com, RT: 11/29/14

(d) Lyndsey Harding Photo & Info, dreamworksstudios.com, RT: 11/2914

(e) Jeff Small Photo & Info, dreamworksstudios.com, RT: 11/29/14

(f) Need for Speed movie poster, industrialcolor.com, RT: 11/29/14

(g) the Hundred Foot Journey movie poster, imdb.com, RT: 11/29/14
(h) Michael Wright, wsj.com, RT: 11/29/14
(i) St. James Set, brooklyndaily.com, RT: 11/29/14

(j) the BFGbarnesandnoble.com, RT: 11/29/14

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