Will Disney buy DWA? No! Universal did!

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by Ben » May 20th, 2014, 9:29 am

Ouch!

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by ShyViolet » May 29th, 2014, 6:59 pm

Some interesting thoughts on the Mad/Home switch:

http://www.cinemablend.com/m/new/DreamW ... 43221.html
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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by Ben » May 30th, 2014, 10:41 am

Even before reading it, that was pretty clear what they were hoping to do. The only question now is...have we had enough of Madagascar and, especially, the Penguins, who have been flogged to death on TV where viewers can watch them for free...?

Time will tell...but DWA needs a hit and I'm not sure this can deliver. Then again, never doubt the power of a penguin, especially these guys...!

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by ShyViolet » May 31st, 2014, 8:25 pm

I've always loved them. The funniest thing was their "commentary" on the Mad DVD. :)
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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by EricJ » June 10th, 2014, 7:43 pm

Ben wrote:Even before reading it, that was pretty clear what they were hoping to do. The only question now is...have we had enough of Madagascar and, especially, the Penguins, who have been flogged to death on TV where viewers can watch them for free...?
There's historically been only one way Dreamworks ever finds out whether we've "had enough" of their next attempt at a post-Shrek franchise:

The hard way. :shock:

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by ShyViolet » June 15th, 2014, 8:00 pm

http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/ ... erate.html

Exactly. It's the quality of the films and how much they make that's most important. How can you get people to be interested in a Kung Fu Panda ride if no one cares about that franchise anymore? (Just an example, I really think KFP has been successful and will keep being successful. But Guardians and Peabody were obviously intended to be franchise-builders and of course that didn't happen. I don't have much hope for Home, either.)
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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by Ben » June 16th, 2014, 4:53 am

Every DWA film is intended to be s franchise starter (even Penguins...if it's big we'll have a Planes/Cars type scenario where those films will play out alongside the Madagascar series, 4 having been announced I think).

But, to be fair to DWA, they haven't really had the build up of characters until recently. Sure, they've had huge hits, but it's only really in the past year or two that they've had enough character leverage to use them across different brands and demographics.

Even then I still "worry" for the company, since out of all those characters maybe only two or three franchises are really big enough to support the weight of expansion. DWA is still on rocky ground and a really bad flop could still sink them big time (even their disappointments have had moderate returns, what happens when a film simply tanks altogether?).

I still often think one of the biggest mistakes SKG did was to spin DWA off from daddy DreamWorks. I know why they did it (when it became apparent that DWs was not going to be a new studio they saw that the animation films could sink them faster than anything else so it made sense to jettison it, ironically DWA becoming more successful than its original parent), but still think they'd have something bigger in place to absorb those shocks.

I wish 'em luck, but I don't think Penguins is going to be the answer they're looking for...

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by EricJ » June 16th, 2014, 6:19 pm

And before Shy jumps in to praise Dragon2 to the skies as sole shining example of the entire studio: ;)

Watching the new Home trailer on the front page just emphasizes why DWA is ultimately going to be its own worst enemy no matter what they corporately dream:
It's become almost neurotic for the studio that they just don't like their characters very much, even when they're convinced they do. They believe they've discovered Pixar's "Magic formula" for impossible dreamers, yet every one of their dreamers is portrayed as a pathetic loser who annoys and eye-rolls all the Mean People around him, and whose rejections and self-delusions even the script gleefully piles on for sitcom humor. Whether it's that they hire writers that can't escape their snarky network-sitcom roots, or just the "Bullied children grow up bullying" factor of Jeff's years at Disney, there's an overwhelming negativity to their movies that says, if THEY don't like their own characters, why should we?
("But look at Kung Fu Panda!" Uh, yeah, I am looking at that.)

DWA's worlds are not welcoming, or persuading, or offering anything to the audience to want to stay there, and that's going to be a problem if they want to extend those worlds beyond the movies. As for the movies, I had my own share of pushing around and book-dumping in high school, I certainly don't want to imagine myself in a situation where I can watch more of it happening to fantasy characters.
Disney's character franchising offered hugs and Pixar's offered optimism and adventure, what do the Penguins offer?--Wacky movie-ref jokes about paranoid spies?

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by ShyViolet » June 16th, 2014, 7:02 pm

EricJ wrote:And before Shy jumps in to praise Dragon2 to the skies as sole shining example of the entire studio: ;)

Um...so that means you do think that Dragon 2 has value? ;)

DreamWorks films are on the whole entertaining, but not perfect. I never said they were. I just don't understand where you get the whole "they don't like their characters" thing. Po isn't a loser, he's just flawed, like every other character in modern animated films. Megamind may seem like a jerk at first but, as the film goes on, we do see that he has likable traits. What about Mr. Peabody, who loves Sherman and wants to bring him up right? I guess I just don't understand where the patented DW "dislike" for their characters is. Can you maybe give some examples?

EricJ wrote:Disney's character franchising offered hugs and Pixar's offered optimism and adventure
Puss 'n Boots had some sweet moments--what about his friendship with Humpty and with his adopted mother? Even Guardians, with all its flaws, had optimism and sweetness, (particularly the children's faith in the Guardians)--hardly the stuff of TV sitcoms.
EricJ wrote: They believe they've discovered Pixar's "Magic formula" for impossible dreamers, yet every one of their dreamers is portrayed as a pathetic loser who annoys and eye-rolls all the Mean People around him, and whose rejections and self-delusions even the script gleefully piles on for sitcom humor.
Not to play the Dragon card, but how is Hiccup a pathetic loser? How does Po wanting to discover his roots make him a loser, and how is his bond with his father the stuff of TV sitcoms? I'm sorry, but I guess I just don't see what you're referring to. I'm not saying that there isn't immaturity and cheap laughs in some of DW's movies, (particularly the Shreks) but I don't think you can make a blanket statement about their "dislike" without generalizing quite a bit. Even Shrek Forever After had sweet moments (particularly Shrek's love for his family, and his love for Fiona. MUCH better expressed than in Third, that's for sure).
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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by Dan » June 16th, 2014, 9:36 pm

While I felt HTTYD2 was a great movie, the fact that the opening numbers fell short of expectations is apparently giving DWA more financial headaches.

http://variety.com/2014/film/news/how-t ... 201221179/

The article does point out how for some films, like the first Dragon and Kung Fu Panda, saw stocks tumble from their opening weekends only to turn out to be box office hits.

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by Randall » June 16th, 2014, 11:55 pm

DWA does seem supremely disappointed in HTTYD2, judging by this FB post from Tony Bancroft:
click to reveal content
Tony here: Not good news this morning! How to Train your Dragon 2 came in 2nd place at the box office to 22 Jump Street this weekend. We all know that Dragons 2 is probably a better film and deserved a 1st place standing but that's not the big problem. Dreamworks NEEDED a big opening for Dragons 2. Now you can argue till your blue in the face that $50 M should not be considered a bad opening or that "if they only made better movies they would do better in the box-office". HTTYD 2 is arguably one of the best movies that DWA has made and it still is a downturn from the expectations. This is not about the creative but about the business side of animation. For DWA its the big picture that counts here. Three out of four of the last DWA releases have been a write-down for the company and this picture was to be their salvation (or at least hold back the tides a bit longer). The projections were for an over $65m opening and the HOPE was for even more then that. So, what does that mean for DWA? Well, the stock is down dramatically this morning. Confidence is low that Dreamworks will be able to pull out of this down turn in their brand without drastic changes. I don't have a crystal ball but I know that Katzenberg and the board must be looking at some drastic changes to how they make animated movies. No, this does not mean the come-back of 2D animation, but it may mean cutting down the cost of making their movies. HTTYD 2 is estimated to have cost $145M to make. The company can not justify these high budgets anymore after the last 4 animated film openings they have had. They will have to make some choices that will most likely have a ripple effect in our industry. Cut backs and layoffs are only a small thumb in the crack of this dam. Their overhead, like all of the big studios, is tremendous. My predication? Just like Sony Imageworks just announced, I think DWA will send their production overseas. Yup, I said it here. The most expensive costs in any animated film budget is the animation production. Animation production accounts for 2/3 of the budget easily. If they did only the pre production and post production aspects here in the states they could cut their budgets by well over half. AND if DWA does that it will not be long before every animation studio follows suit. They would have to just to be competittive. The animation industry would dramatically change. This is not a new scenario just so you know. There were rumors of production moving overseas at Disney way back during the Great Mouse Detective days. It never happened then because there was not the technology, ease of communication, or talent and experience needed to be an effective option like there is now. DWA already has a group in India that they have been training and quietly using on some of their projects for years. So does Disney, Sony, Reel FX and many other VFX and animation studios. All of this from HTTYD 2 coming in a little under projections? I could be totally wrong in my ripple effect predictions (and I hope so) but I know one thing; we are all connected in animation. If one movie does well we all benefit. If not, things change. Ripple, ripple, ripple. What do you think?
It's a shame that a $50M opening just isn't good enough. There was a time that that amount for a total run would have been considered great (OK, yeah, inflation, but still). DWA is most certainly looking at having to scale back the budgets, which wouldn't have to be a bad thing. I'd like to see DWA become more of a boutique studio, offering lower budget films with great stories (and unique visuals, one would hope), similar to what we see more of in Europe. But Bancroft is probably right--- DWA will want to keep competing with Pixar, and simply send production overseas to save money.

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by EricJ » June 17th, 2014, 1:20 am

ShyViolet wrote:Um...so that means you do think that Dragon 2 has value? ;)

(No, it means when I talk about "Broken records", I'm not necessarily talking about the movie or its box office...) :P
ShyViolet wrote:What about Mr. Peabody, who loves Sherman and wants to bring him up right?
And the mean-girl who school-bullies Sherman at the beginning, since they could see no other screenwriter avenue to establish a motivation for the two characters and set the plot in motion.
ShyViolet wrote:Not to play the Dragon card, but how is Hiccup a pathetic loser? How does Po wanting to discover his roots make him a loser, and how is his bond with his father the stuff of TV sitcoms?
Thanks to an infusion of outside talent, Hiccup in the first movie was upgraded to a sympathetic loser among big Vikings, which was at least a welcome change of pace.
And asking Jack Black to make his slacker losers sympathetic is asking way too much of his trademark act for the price tag. He'd much rather they make loud posing fools of themselves.
Tony here: Not good news this morning! How to Train your Dragon 2 came in 2nd place at the box office to 22 Jump Street this weekend. We all know that Dragons 2 is probably a better film and deserved a 1st place standing but that's not the big problem. Dreamworks NEEDED a big opening for Dragons 2.
They weren't going to stop the Jump Streeters on their first week, no matter what they did (seriously, that and Cloudy/Meatballs, what IS it with the Lord/Miller fans, anyway??)

But it's a bad combination of
A) maybe a little more trailer exposure would helped over "hit franchise name value", as I wasn't the ONLY one out there totally confused about what this movie was about or whether it was remotely different from the first one, and
B) because DW thinks "If they loved the first, they'll love the franchise", they go into totally mystified and/or lockdown panic mode if a succession of sequels don't each do the first movie's opening box office at the theater forever.

And assuming this is coming from the TAG Blog, where Katzenberg Is Your Friend, the Studio is Shangri-La and You Can Escape the Devil-Lasseter, news like this should be tightening the rope a little that outside, in the real world...nobody likes them.
If they did, the studio execs wouldn't be rationalizing "bad openings" for four movies IN A ROW.

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by Ben » June 17th, 2014, 4:53 am

Brave open post by Bancroft there, although I'm surprised DWA are *that* down on it considering it's just $15m short of their lower predictions and, with the holidays, its sure to make this up.

But here again, is the power of TV killing the DWA properties? Most have access to a weekly dose or more of Dragons on TV and, with the price of movies and competition, why will audiences pay to see something they get at home for free when there's other stuff out there?

Not only should this re-warn JK about announcing the start and end of trilogies (if Dragon 2 really underperforms it's doubtful we'll get a third, and the previously "finished" Madagascar has a fourth on the way and that's not counting Penguins!), but it does also suggest again that Penguins is not going to be the answer they're looking for...

Over to Kung Fu Panda 3 then...yet another franchise being flogged to death on TV...

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by Dan » June 17th, 2014, 9:58 am

To be fair about Dragon being on TV, it's actually on hiatus as it makes the transfer from Cartoon Network to Netflix next year, so audiences have to wait a year for new episodes and they have to have Netflix to boot.

Still, Ben's right in concern over how JK proceeds at this point with how to stop the dwindling stocks. In addition to scaling back the budget on the films, I also wonder if perhaps they should consider scaling back the number of films they release each year.

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Re: Will Disney buy DWA?

Post by droosan » June 17th, 2014, 10:27 am

I have a few buddies who'd worked at DreamWorks/PDI 'non-stop' for about ten years .. but have been on stop-n-go 'stand-by' (or outright laid-off) for the past year or two. :|

Similarly .. Rhythm & Hues had been one of my 'go-to' employers, whenever I found myself 'between' jobs; I worked there somewhat steadily (in chunks of 4-6 months) between 2003-2011 .. but now, they're pretty much gone. R&H also had its share of wild successes and massive flops; though, they were a VFX vendor, rather than an independent movie studio. Still .. they used to employ between 300-600 artists at any given time -- many of them very experienced and talented -- who now compete for an exponentially-shrinking pool of remaining local animation/VFX jobs. :?

In addition to Sony Pictures Animation, Digital Domain also offshored the bulk of its VFX artist jobs to Canada about a year ago. That's another 200+ previously L.A.-based jobs which went 'poof!' A few (senior-level) DD artists were given the option to relocate along with their job -- but several who had houses and/or families either couldn't, or wouldn't, do so. :(

------------------------------

Myself, I've kinda transitioned away from 'entertainment-oriented' animation & VFX work, over the past couple of years. Most of the stuff I've worked on recently is 'industrial video' or 'visualization'; CG representations of equipment concepts or vehicle designs .. mostly for military, oil-exploration, or construction/architecture clients.

The vast majority of these projects are only ever seen by a few dozen people, at most. But it's ultimately just as satisfying, artistically .. and, hey: it's a job. :)
Last edited by droosan on June 17th, 2014, 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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