Thursday, April 30, 2009

DreamWorks Animation: "What Recession?"

DreamWorks Animation SKG is weathering the global economic downturn quite nicely, thank you. In its earnings statement released on April 28, DreamWorks reported that its revenue was $263.5 million for the first three months of 2009, up nearly 68% over the same period in 2008.

"This marks the Company's strongest first quarter ever, attributable primarily to the blockbuster performance of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, both at the international box office and in the domestic home video market," said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, in a statement accompanying the earnings release.

Katzenberg, whose contract was extended through 2014, was likely pleased with the surge in DreamWorks’ share price when the market opened on April 29, given his agreement to work for a salary of $1 per year and stock grants tied to the performance of DreamWorks’ share price. Katzenberg will be compensated richly if shares trade at various levels averaging over $32 per share for a year. DreamWorks shares closed at $23.87 on April 29.

In addition to its box office success, DreamWorks performed well in the home video market as well, with Kung Fu Panda selling over 14 million units and contributing over $34 million of revenue in the first quarter. In a sign that the company has found a successful formula for developing lasting animated feature franchises, Bee Movie and Flushed Away continue to contribute to DreamWorks’ bottom line through the pay and free television markets, two and three years respectively after their theatrical releases. The two films brought in a combined $33.4 million of revenue in the first quarter of 2009.

Monsters vs. Aliens, DreamWorks’ latest feature, is currently the top North American box office draw of 2009, contributing $10.5 million of revenue during the first quarter. While the film has reached over $320 million in worldwide box office receipts, the movie’s draw is disappointing overseas.

In Baltimore, if you’re looking for an unforgettable way to see Monsters vs. Aliens, head over to
Bengies Drive-In, which has now opened for the season. Bengies is showing the film on its gigantic, 6200 square foot screen (albeit in conventional format, not 3-D), and given the movie’s 1950s monster movie flick shtick, a drive-in is the perfect venue to take it in.
After a long hiatus, mostly due to pressure from my real job, I've decided to make a concerted effort to start writing again, time constraints be damned. I've signed on with Examiner.com to cover animation. Hopefully I'll also be able to contribute more to Frames per Second as well.