by SOPHIA HOEKE
DreamWorks Studios is a production company based in Universal City, California, and they are most widely known for producing feature films, however, they also produce television programming, music, and video games. The founders of DreamWorks studios are Jeffery Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, and David Geffen. They founded the company in 1994 and the current CEO is Stacey Snider. DreamWorks has produced films such as Shrek (2001), American Beauty (1999), Meet the Fockers (2004), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Saving Private Ryan (1998), and Cast Away (2000).
When DreamWorks was founded in 1994, all three male founders, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen, were already industry royalty and paired together knowing they were about to create something great. Geffen confidently stated that it was the first time in his career that he actually wanted to work with partners.
Shrek was the first franchise that really turned DreamWorks Studios into the booming company the Katzenberg always wanted, but not in the way he intended. The film incorporated a celebrity cast, a boy-friendly narrative, obnoxious pop-culture references, and more, and eventually lead to the company producing all of the recognizable crazy-funny, talking-animal type films, but this was not the artistic direction in which the founders had wished the company would pursue.
As of Fall 2004, DreamWorks Studios is no longer affiliated with DreamWorks Animation. Dream Works Animation spun off into a publicly traded company that solely produced animated feature films and TV programs. DreamWorks Studios’ founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg, moved with DWA and currently holds their position of CEO.
In late March, it was announced that Steven Spielberg is signed to direct “Ready Player One”, a screenplay of the original Science Fiction novel written by Ernest Cline, the only catch is, this film is being produced by Warner Bros., not Dreamworks Studios. So the question is why did Spielberg make this temporary move and what effect will it have on Dreamworks?
According to this news clip by Jeff Sneider, a film reporter for The Wrap, Spielberg may be the perfect fit to head this project because he was raised as a gamer and the plot of the movie is based around ‘80’s pop culture. Although Spielberg did not grow up in the ‘80’s, he certainly had a hand in creating the pop culture of the time. So those reason may have to do with Spielberg’s choice to take a leave of absence from his own studio, leaving it temporarily in the hands of Michael Wright and Halle Berry.
Bloomberg Business also fills us in on Spielberg’s collaboration with Walt Disney Co. to produce Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Walden Media is a principle investor in the Vancouver-based production of this film about everyone’s favorite big friendly giant. One of the reasons that Spielberg is helping Disney out with this project is that Disney is currently taking care of all DreamWorks Studios distribution deals, and has lent DreamWorks $156 million with another $90 million coming this September to help with their company debt. Michael Wright, DreamWorks Studios’ CEO says,
“Over the years, we have enjoyed a fruitful collaboration, and we couldn’t be more excited to be working with Disney in this expanded capacity on ‘The BFG,’”
As of last year, Disney had distributed 11 DreamWorks Studios films, and this collaboration will only lead to continuing future endeavors between the two companies.
So with DreamWorks Studios going through these tough times with little to no feature films in production over the past few months and temporarily losing their founder and top director, Steven Spielberg, what have they been doing?
DreamWorks has been very busy negotiating and making plans with The Foundation for Investment in the Riviera Maya to build an amusement park in the popular tourist city of Cancun in Punta Maroma. The new park will be modeled similarly to the other DreamWorks Studios amusement park located just outside of New York. There will be restaurants, commercial spaces, theaters, and aquatic attractions themed around Madagascar, Antz, Shark Tale, Puss in Boots, and of course, Shrek.
This is not the only amusement park endeavor that DreamWorks Studios has been working on recently. In Singapore, DreamWorks is launching it’s first ever suspended roller coasted themed around one of their famous characters, Puss in Boots.
Hollywood Reporter also tells us that there are also plans being made by DreamWorks executives to collaborate with the same trio of Chinese production companies that developed Transformers: Age of Extinction in conjunction with Paramount. Jiaflix, China Movie Channel, and 1905 Pictures are all joining with DreamWorks Studios to put into action their plans for the Need For Speed sequel. Jiaflix president, Marc Ganis, confidently stated,
“We expect this partnership, which brings together a winning brand like Need For Speed with the team that propelled Transformers 4 to unprecedented success, will create one of the next great franchises for movie fans around the world.”
The film does not have a cast, writer, or director yet, but the proposal from these three companies has been made to DreamWorks, and they are eagerly awaiting a response.
Another production deal that is underway but being kept a very big secret is a Netflix original series produced by DreamWorks called Dinotrux. Rotoscopers tells us that this project has been in production for some time now and is set to be released in Summer 2015. Other than the projected release date, and a promotional Facebook page containing only graphic images, no more information has been released.
DreamWorks has been having a seemingly quiet year, however that has not been the case. There have not been many feature films released in the last few months nor have many been put into production, but the efforts of the studio to stay afloat despite their recent downward spiral are prevalent. The company has invested in various projects as stated above and is making sacrifices where necessary. In example, temporarily carrying on without their founder and primary director, Steven Spielberg, while he partners with companies that will help DreamWorks with their debt. All of these smaller projects and partnerships will hopefully help DreamWorks Studios find it’s way back to producing feature films.