Comcast Has Purchased Dreamworks Animation for 3.2 Billion Dollars

So a big change has happened in the landscape of animation today! As I'm sure learned from the title of this article, Comcast has purchased Dreamworks Animation for the price of 3.2 billion dollars. Holy moly.

I know your reaction is probably the same as mine, "Oh god Comcast..." If you've ever had Comcast as a cable provider (like I have) you know they are... et's say...not the best. But don't worry too badly about it because Comcast already owns everything, and their other entities aren't nearly as bad as their cable and internet service.

Recently Dreamworks Animation was struggling. In 2015 they lost 55 million dollars, but that was a big step up from when in 2014 they lost over 300 million. So needless to say the ship that was Dreamworks Animation wasn't sailing quite right.

A lot of people were pointing the finger at Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dreamworks CEO. It's debatable how much he may or may not have been responsible for it's struggling, but as CEO everyone is going to blame you regardless of your actual influence. As part of this deal with Comcast taking over he's going to be stepping down and Chris Meledandri of Illumination Entertainment, best known for Despicable Me, Minions, and the upcoming Secret Life of Pets.

All those films were released through Universal Studios, and now we get into the weird corporate aspect of this deal. Universal is owned by NBC Universal, which is part of Comcast. Dreamworks was owned by Amblin Entertainment, which was created by Steven Spielberg.

In the landscape of animation and entertainment, it's becoming more and more that Disney or Comcast owns everything. They're two giant companies with lots of off shoots and sister companies and divisions and all that mumbo jumbo I don't completely understand.

So the reason this is a big deal? Dreamworks Animation was one of the biggest animation studios and producers in the industry right now, stretching all the way back to their first feature film Antz in 1998.

Most famous of course for the Shrek franchise, Dreamworks Animation was the studio that famously brought in a more "adult" sense of humor into their films giving them a more edgy feel over more traditionally children's oriented features.

Along with Shrek they also produced the Madagascar series and Kung Fu Panda. Most importantly tough they and Aardman Animation created Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Chicken Run, two favorite films of mine as a big fan of Aardman's work.

Comcast now owns three big franchises, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and How To Train Your Dragon, so we can expect to see more of those. Illumination however is a much younger company, with only 5 films under their belt, 3 of which being Despicable Me or spin off films. So it's really a very large company being absorbed into a newer, although financially more stable, environment.

Dreamworks Animation is also one of the largest employers of animators in the United States, and it's unclear what the future will hold for their animators at this time. The worse case scenario would be for Comcast to go in and gut all the departments with massive lay offs, the best case scenario is they simply restructure the higher up positions of who controls the studio and leave the jobs of the animators and designers intact.

It's always scary when studios change like this so my fingers are crossed for the employees that they don't get the axe.

So what does this mean for the future of animated features? Probably not a whole lot. I don't find this to be as big a deal as Pixar being absorbed officially into Disney, or Warner Brothers getting out of the animated feature game. Both Dreamworks and Comcast have a pattern for how they are making films that are pretty similar, find a hit and make sequels, so I don't think we'll see a dramatic change from that.

Hopefully though the energy and vigor that comes from a younger studio can be absorbed and utilize the reach and strength of such an established studio like Dreamworks Animation to create some exciting new films as opposed to just more Despicable Me and Shrek Christmas specials for Netflix.