DreamWorks Animation has announced plans to reel in is once-ambitious production slate, laying off 500 people and reshuffling its upcoming releases in the process.
First picked up by Variety, the studio’s Company Chief Jeffrey Katzenberg revealed that a string of financial flops — namely Turbo, Peabody & Sherman and the like — caused the the studio to write off more than $290 million, and Katzenberg himself admitted that the goal of releasing three feature films per year proved to be too much.
“I don’t think we ever attained the creative capacity to maintain the highest level of quality while we went for the quantity,” Katzenberg said in an interview with Variety. “We achieved the production capacity but not the creative capacity to do it. We have fallen short on the creative side of it. Making three films a year was too ambitious.”
Such a change of pace will now see DreamWorks Animation focus on releasing two blockbuster features per annum (one original IP coupled with a sequel), and the company chief admitted that this is consequence of the increasing competitiveness for box office supremacy, with studios across Hollywood scrambling for the most coveted release dates years in advance. As this new strategy takes into effect, Katzenberg also stressed that the company will be reining in the budgets of some films, hedging its bets to instil a sense of stability.
As a matter of fact, we learned more recently that Kung Fu Panda 3, one of the more successful properties in DreamWorks’ canon, has secured co-production status in China, meaning the studio can leverage the cost of development across multiple markets. Moreover, striking up a relationship with the sovereign state is great business, given that its gives companies like DreamWorks direct access to the second biggest film market on the planet.
It’s likely that DreamWorks will pursue similar partnerships as the company looks to restore balance to the books. In terms of the current slate, news of internal restructuring means that How to Train Your Dragon 3 has been pushed to 2018, whereas Mumbai Musical and the supernatural-themed B.O.O.: Bureau Of Otherworldly Operations — which has a voice cast that includes Melissa McCarthy, no less — have been shuffled back into development.
We’ll have more about DreamWorks‘ overhaul as this story develops.