Posted: Fri., Sep. 26, 2008, 12:56pm PT

DreamWorks toons stay put

Animation arm sees huge results at Paramount

By Ben Fritz

While one DreamWorks departs Paramount, another is staying put, at last for a few more years.

DreamWorks Studios may be re-launching with a new infusion of cash, but DreamWorks Animation remains in a distribution deal with Par that runs through 2012.

Originally spun into a public company to help investor Paul Allen liquidate his early investments, DreamWorks Animation is now in the unexpected position of having absolutely no business relationship with DreamWorks Studios.

Technically, the live-action studio hasn't been connected to its toon sibling in over two years, but it's no coincidence that the latter signed a seven-year distribution deal with Paramount at the same time the former was acquired by it.

Back then, nobody figured DreamWorks' relationship with Par would end so quickly. But DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberghas been thriving.

The "K" in DreamWorks SKG, who has led the animation studio since it spun out four years ago, has had only positive public words for Paramount and insiders say there have been few conflicts, save for a dispute when former Par marketing honcho Gerry Rich ankled.

Aided by the former DreamWorks team that took over Paramount distribution and the studio's well-respected marketing machine, DWA toons have performed well for the past two years, grossing an average of $441 million worldwide. Overseas B.O. has been particularly strong, with this summer's "Kung Fu Panda" and last year's "Shrek the Third" grossing $409 million and $476 million, respectively, from foreign markets. Home entertainment perf has also been solid is a slumping market -- "Shrek the Third" has sold more than 20 million units so far.

Significantly, DreamWorks Animation stock is up 27% since 2006.
DreamWorks toons stay put - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety