Published On: Sat, Jan 3rd, 2015

Hearst Buys Stake in DreamWorks Animation’s AwesomenessTV as Studio Remains in Flux

Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox And DreamWorks Animation's "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" - Red Carpet

DreamWorks Animation and Hearst Corporation reported that Hearst has acquired a 25% interest in AwesomenessTV, a foremost multi-platform media company serving the worldwide teen community, for a purchase price of $81.25 million and will partner with DreamWorks to grow ATV. Brian Robbins, ATV founder, and Brett Bouttier, president, will continue to lead the company, Equity Observer said.

DreamWorks Animation traded 916, 822.00 shares in the last business day while the average volume of the stock remained 1.35M shares. The 52-week range of the stock remained $19.20 – $35.76. The stock showed a positive movement of 2.62% to end at $22.33. The market capitalization of the stock remained $1.85 billion, the Observer said.

Meanwhile, there is some speculation about changes at Dreamworks, with schedules shifting, its Penguins franchise struggling and some films disappearing altogether.

Jeffrey Katzenberg told U.K. entertainment media website Den of Geek in late 2014 that feature films will remain at the heart of what the firm will do, but admitted “it’s more competitive… we are competing with live action movies that have become more cartoon”.

Katzenberg himself has been busy putting a management team in place at the studio to subdivide the decision-making process. There’s planning for the long term taking place, the website said.

Maybe the big question is how involved Katzenberg himself will remain. Had a planned merger with Hasbro gone ahead, he would have been locked in for several more years. But it’s little secret that he’s been looking for a buyer for DreamWorks, and with the collapse of the Hasbro talks, he’s still presumably on the hunt for one, Den of Geek said.

Yet DreamWorks Animation’s long-term prosperity – and it’s still a long way off making a big loss on one of its features – ultimately comes down to the films. And the problem the studio faces is that its output hasn’t been distinctive and/or competitive enough to lure in the level of audience it previously enjoyed; and that for the past three or four years, it’s been chopping its schedule, changing things around, and rarely pushing at a boundary that wasn’t technical. Home may well address that, and Me & My Shadow looked like it might have done. But if the former fails, the studio may retreat back to further spin-offs and sequels, according to the website.

That in itself isn’t a major problem – How To Train Your Dragon 2 is ample evidence that DreamWorks can do a strong sequel – but the studio needs ambition, and needs to be picking better stories. Katzenberg and his team had, for many years, a finely tuned antenna to what the market was looking for, but what worked before clearly isn’t working now, Den of Geek said.

As things stand, DreamWorks Animation isn’t in trouble, but it is in flux. And it’s only going to be better films that dig it out of its currently perceived mini-rut, the website said.

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