Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reinventing Spree


Jeffrey Katzenberg has been getting rather ambitious lately, hasn't he? Well, in a business sense, yes.

He really wants DreamWorks to thrive (and they need to, given two of the last three films being money-losers at the box office), so he's trying his hardest to have the company expand beyond feature films and tie-ins. He wants theme parks, he wants DreamWorks to have their own channel, the company is acquiring different things left and right, now he really wants to make big bucks off of last year's Classic Media acquisition. He stated during a Q&A at MIPCOM 2013...

"It’s not, 'What are we going to do with those 6,100 episodes we have'... although we’ll get value out of those... the real opportunity is to take every one of those franchises and reinvent them. And that’s what we will set out to do."

"I think that the Classic Media library is for DreamWorks what the Marvel library was for Ike Perlmutter when he bought it for $175 million 15 years ago."


Talk about thinking big. Every... One... Of... Those... Franchises...

Classic Media - well now it's DreamWorks Classics - owns several properties and licensing rights to lots of different things... Over 450 different characters!

Gumby, Voltron, Jay Ward cartoons (Rocky & Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle), Lassie, Filmation's library (He-Man), The Lone Ranger, the UPA cartoons (Mr. Magoo), Casper the Friendly GhostFelix the Cat and so many others. The list goes on. It was a smart and rather low-priced acquisition, one that'll let the company expand further into the realm of television, since they are planning to create hundred of hours of original programming for Netflix (Turbo F.A.S.T., based on their box office disappointment Turbo, will premiere in December) and tons of episodes over the next five years. New TV shows are a go, a notable one being a series based on The Croods, which made close to $600 million at the worldwide box office.


It was rather quietly announced that DreamWorks was looking to make a feature-length animated film based on Lassie a few months back, plus their film based on Mr. Peabody & Sherman is right around the corner. Many of the other Classic Media properties seem ripe for animated features, since the big thing nowadays is to reinvent older characters for modern audiences. Thankfully, DreamWorks seems to be doing it right with Peabody unlike... Say... Sony and Fox with The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks respectively. However, things like Voltron - as pointed out by others - would make for potentially good animated films.

This also leads me to ask, will DreamWorks rerun most of the classic shows on their upcoming channel? Or will we see tons and tons of new shows based on the different characters? Will we see new shows based on He-Man, Lassie, Felix the Cat, Mr. Magoo, Gumby, Casper and many others?

Will we see DVD and Blu-ray sets of the classic shows? I mean, they have the entire UPA library and the UPA was one of the most notable studios during the Golden Age of Animation. I think their work, from the great shorts they did to the Mr. Magoo cartoons, needs a big set or a series of sets with all the shorts in chronological order. I'm probably asking for too much, aren't I?

But with all of those shows and properties, DreamWorks' slate will only get bigger... And it won't concern films anymore. Looks like the acquisition will pay off soon, and perhaps help DreamWorks out of their current situation.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I'm very glad they are doing the Peabody and Sherman movie right myself. The Lassie movie that's animated is news to me, but I would certainly go see it IF (big if) it was done right.

    "This also leads me to ask, will DreamWorks rerun most of the classic shows on their upcoming channel?" More than likely they will. Also, they already have a channel called cubo that is a digital subchannel that you can get for free over-the-air with an HDTV antenna, so there's that avenue also.

    "Or will we see tons and tons of new shows based on the different characters? Will we see new shows based on He-Man, Lassie, Felix the Cat, Mr. Magoo, Gumby, Casper and many others?" Please, God, no. I'd rather see the old shows, sorry. MAYBE if the Lassie animated movie was successful enough but I have no confidence on that one.

    "Will we see DVD and Blu-ray sets of the classic shows?" I'd love to see DVD & Blu-Ray sets of the classic shows also. But my interest isn't in animation, at least the animation they have, as I recall the Rocky & Bullwinkle sets were pretty good. My interest is in seeing what they'll do with the Lassie brand and see how they improve it over time.

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