This article is about the live-action film studio. For the method of dream analysis, see Dreamwork. For the separate animation studio founded in 2004 as part of the film studio, see DreamWorks Animation. For other uses, see DreamWorks (disambiguation).
DreamWorks Pictures
Industry Entertainment
Predecessor DW Studios, LLC
DreamWorks Distribution
Founded October 12, 1994 (1994-10-12)
Founders Steven Spielberg
Jeffrey Katzenberg
David Geffen
Headquarters Universal City, California, U.S.
Area served
Products Motion pictures
Number of employees
80 (2012)[1]
Parent Amblin Partners
Website dreamworkspictures.com

DreamWorks Pictures (also known as DreamWorks SKG or DreamWorks Studios, commonly referred to as DreamWorks, trading as Storyteller Distribution Co., LLC) is an American film production label of Amblin Partners. It was formerly distributing its own and third-party films by itself. It has produced or distributed more than ten films with box-office grosses of more than $100 million each. As of October 2016, DreamWorks' films are marketed and distributed by Universal Pictures.

DreamWorks began in 1994 as an attempt by media moguls Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen (together, SKG) to create a new Hollywood studio of which they owned 72%. Currently, DreamWorks operates out of offices at Universal Studios.

In December 2005, the founders agreed to sell the studio to Viacom, parent of Paramount Pictures. The sale was completed in February 2006.

In 2008, DreamWorks announced its intention to end its partnership with Paramount and signed a $1.5 billion deal to produce films with India's Reliance ADA Group.[2] Reliance provided $325M of equity to fund recreating DreamWorks SKG into DreamWorks Studios, an independent entity. Clark Hallren, former Managing Director of the Entertainment Industries group of J. P. Morgan Securities, and Alan J. Levine of J. P. Morgan Entertainment Advisors, led the Reliance team in restructuring the company.[3][4][5] The following year, DreamWorks entered into a distribution agreement with Walt Disney Studios, wherein Disney would distribute DreamWorks films through Touchstone Pictures; the deal continued until 2016. After the formation of Amblin Partners in 2015, the studio entered into a distribution agreement with Universal Pictures.

DreamWorks' animation arm was spun off in 2004 into DreamWorks Animation SKG (DWA), which currently owns the DreamWorks trademarks, and as of August 2016 is a subsidiary of NBCUniversal.[6] Spielberg's company continues to use the DreamWorks trademarks under license from Universal Studios.[7][8]


DreamWorks SKG: original founding

The original company was founded following Katzenberg's resignation from The Walt Disney Company in 1994. Katzenberg approached Spielberg and Geffen about forming a live-action and animation film studio, which had not been done in decades due to the risk and expense. They agreed on three conditions: They would make fewer than nine movies a year, they would be free to work for other studios if they chose, and they would go home in time for dinner. They officially founded DreamWorks SKG in October 1994, with financial backing of $33 million from each of the three partners and $500 million from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Their new studio was based at offices in the Universal Studios lot, previously occupied by Amblin Entertainment. Despite access to sound stages and sets, DreamWorks preferred to film motion pictures on location. Usually, the company would film in a soundstage or set in a major studio. As of 2016, DreamWorks is still based in Universal.

In 1995, traditional animation artists from Amblimation joined the new studio, which led to DreamWorks buying part of Pacific Data Images, a company specializing in visual effects. Both were software divisions, and would merge later on. For then, DreamWorks had the traditional animators working for their untitled animation department, and the computer animators worked on CG films.

In 1997, DreamWorks SKG released its first three feature films, The Peacemaker, a film about terrorism, Amistad, Spielberg's first film for the studio about an African slave rebellion and the aftermath of the massacre, and MouseHunt, the studio's first family film about two brothers trying to fight a mischievous mouse. These films were distributed by DreamWorks Pictures.

In 1998, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lawsuit against DreamWorks for trademark infringement by Dreamwerks Production Group, Inc.,[9] a company mostly specializing in Star Trek conventions.[10] The same year, PDI/DreamWorks produced its first full-length animated features, Antz and The Prince of Egypt, which were also distributed by DreamWorks Pictures. DreamWorks SKG continued to distribute PDI/DreamWorks productions through their distribution name until 2004.

In 2000, DreamWorks was planning in building a studio backlot after buying 1,087 acres of land in the Playa Vista area in Los Angeles. It was to be complete with 18 sound stages, with many office buildings and a lake. There would also be new homes, schools, churches, and museums. The project was to be completed in 2001, but was cancelled for financial reasons.[11] Starting in 1999, DreamWorks won three consecutive Academy Awards for Best Picture for American Beauty, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind (the latter two were co-productions with Universal).

DreamWorks Interactive was a computer and video game developer founded in 1995 as a DreamWorks subsidiary. On February 24, 2000, Electronic Arts announced the acquisition of DreamWorks Interactive and merged it with EA Pacific and Westwood Studios to form EA Los Angeles, now Danger Close Games.

DreamWorks Records was the company's record label, the first project of which was George Michael's Older album. The first band signed to the label was eels who released their debut album "Beautiful Freak" in 1997. The record company never lived up to expectations, though, and was sold in October 2003 to Universal Music Group, which operated the label as DreamWorks Nashville. That label was shut down in 2005 when its flagship artist, Toby Keith, departed to form his own label.[12]

PDI/DreamWorks produced some of the highest grossing animated hits of all time, including Chicken Run (2000), Shrek (2001), and its sequel Shrek 2 (2004). In October 2004, DreamWorks' animation arm was split to form DreamWorks Animation.

David Geffen admitted that DreamWorks had come close to bankruptcy twice. Under Katzenberg's watch, the studio suffered a $125 million loss on Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas,[13] and also overestimated the DVD demand for Shrek 2.[14] In 2005, out of their two large budget pictures, War of the Worlds was produced as a joint effort with Paramount which was the first to reap a significant amount of profits, while The Island bombed at the domestic box office but turned a profit after being released elsewhere.[13]

Paramount ownership

In December 2005, Paramount Pictures agreed to purchase the live-action studio, still keeping the original name and producing/distribution name. The deal was valued at approximately $1.6 billion, an amount that included about $400 million in debt assumptions.[15] The company completed its acquisition on February 1, 2006.[16]

On March 17, 2006, Paramount agreed to sell a controlling interest in the DreamWorks Pictures live-action library (pre-September 16, 2005; DW Funding, LLC) to Soros Strategic Partners and Dune Entertainment II.[17] The film library is valued at $900 million. Paramount retained the worldwide distribution rights to these films, as well as various ancillary rights, including music publishing, sequels and merchandising. This includes films that had been made by Paramount and DreamWorks Pictures (the music publishing rights were later licensed to Sony/ATV Music Publishing when that company acquired Paramount's Famous Music subdivision). The sale was completed on May 8, 2006.[18] On February 8, 2010, Viacom repurchased Soros' controlling stake in the DreamWorks Pictures library for around $400 million.[19]

Reliance-Spielberg joint venture

In June 2008, Variety reported that DreamWorks was looking for financing that would allow it to continue operations, but as a production company, once its deal with Paramount ended later that year.[20] Several public equity funds were approached for financing including Blackstone Group, Fuse Global, TPG Capital, and several others, but all passed on the deal given their understanding of the Hollywood markets. Then most of the backing would come from an Indian investment firm called Reliance ADA Group. In January 2009, Spielberg entered a licensing agreement with DreamWorks Animation to use the DreamWorks trademarks, logo, and name for film productions and releases.[21] In September 2008, Variety reported that DreamWorks closed a deal with Reliance to create a stand-alone production company called DreamWorks Studios and end its ties with Paramount.[22][23]

On February 9, 2009, DreamWorks Studios entered into a long-term, 30-picture distribution deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures by which the films would be released through the Touchstone Pictures banner.[24] The deal also included co-funding via a loan by Walt Disney Studios to DreamWorks for production and access to slots in Disney's pay television agreement then with Starz.[24] This agreement is reported to have come after negotiations broke off with Universal Pictures just days earlier.[25] DreamWorks raised $325 million from Reliance Entertainment and an additional $325 million in debt in 2009.[1]

DreamWorks Studios' initial movies, I am Number Four, Cowboys & Aliens and Fright Night failed, while The Help, Real Steel and Spielberg's War Horse had success at the box office. This left DreamWorks Studios so financially drained that by 2011, the company was seeking additional funding from Reliance. Reliance gave a $200 million investment in April 2012. Under the deal, DreamWorks Studios scaled back production to three films per year and sought co-financiers on big budget films with 20th Century Fox co-financing Lincoln and Robopocalypse. The company continues to utilize Disney's marketing unit.[1] In August that year, after renegotiating their agreement with Disney, DreamWorks Pictures formed a deal with Mister Smith Entertainment to distribute their films in EMEA, while Disney would continue to distribute in North America, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Russia, and some territories in Asia.[26]

Amblin Partners venture

In September 2015, it was reported that DreamWorks and Disney would not renew their distribution deal, set to expire in August 2016,[27][28] with The Light Between Oceans being released in September as the final DreamWorks film distributed by Disney under their original distribution agreement.[29] The contract allowing Spielberg to license the DreamWorks name and logo from Jeffrey Katzenberg's DreamWorks Animation was set to expire on January 1, 2016, leading to media speculation that Spielberg would not renew the pact.[30]

On December 16, 2015, Spielberg, Reliance, Entertainment One, and Participant Media partnered to launch the content production company Amblin Partners,[31] relegating DreamWorks to a brand for adult-themed films produced under the new company.[31][32] In addition to DreamWorks, the new company also produces films under the Amblin Entertainment and Participant banners.

On the same day, Amblin Partners announced a five-year distribution deal with Universal Pictures under which the films will be distributed and marketed by either the main Universal label or its specialty label, Focus Features.[33][34] The Girl on the Train was the first film released under the new agreement.[35]


The DreamWorks logo features a boy sitting on a crescent moon while fishing. The general idea for the logo was the idea of company co-founder Steven Spielberg, who wanted a computer generated image. The illustrator Robert Hunt was commissioned to execute the idea as a painting and from this work, who the artist used his son as the model,[36] the logo was then turned into a motion graphic at Industrial Light and Magic, in collaboration with Kaleidoscope Films, Dave Carson and Clint Goldman.[37] The logo was animated by ILM animation supervisor Wes Takahashi.[38][39] The music accompanying the logo to start live-action DreamWorks movies was specially composed by John Williams; the DreamWorks Animation logo has music from the Harry Gregson-Williams/John Powell score for the 2001 film Shrek. The logo's font is set in Minion Pro Black.


DreamWorks used to distribute its own films, with Universal handling video distribution rights. When Viacom bought DreamWorks in 2006, this meant most DreamWorks films were to be distributed by Paramount Pictures. This partnership ended in 2008.

DreamWorks entered into a long-term, 30-picture distribution deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in 2009, by which the films would be released through the Touchstone Pictures banner. Originally, the deal included access to slots in Disney's pay television agreement with Starz, but the DreamWorks films ended up going to Showtime instead.[40] However, this deal did not include distribution rights in India, which are handled by Reliance.[24] Also not included were sequels to live-action films released before the Paramount merger, or those released by Paramount themselves–Paramount retains the rights to these franchises, and many sequels that were made by Paramount included, Little Fockers, which was released by Paramount internationally in December 2010 (Universal owns domestic rights), Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Road Trip: Beer Pong and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. From 2011 to 2016, Disney distributed fourteen of DreamWorks' original 30-picture agreement, with Disney retaining the distribution rights for these DreamWorks films in perpetuity.[41] As a result, Disney acquired "DreamWorks II Distribution Co. LLC" from DreamWorks and Reliance in December 2015.[42][43]

The broadcast and basic subscription cable television distribution rights to many DreamWorks films are owned by either Trifecta Entertainment & Media and Disney-ABC Domestic Television (formerly known as Buena Vista Television), depending on both content and region of license. In South Korea, CJ Entertainment has the rights to release all DreamWorks' films, except some co-productions (for example, Minority Report and Road to Perdition were distributed by Fox, Small Soldiers, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind and Seabiscuit by Universal Studios, Almost Famous and Evolution by Columbia Pictures, Saving Private Ryan by Paramount Pictures, and The Island and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Warner Bros., due to these studios having owned the international rights to these films).

Over the years, many DreamWorks films have aired on the ABC TV network through a deal.

United International Pictures (a joint venture of Paramount and Universal) formerly distributed most DreamWorks' films internationally.


In August 2012, DreamWorks formed a deal with a company called Mister Smith Entertainment which will sell the distribution of DreamWorks films in EMEA, while Universal Pictures will continue to distribute in North and South America, Kazakhstan, Australia, Russia, Southeast Asia and Eastern Asia.[26] Reliance will still distribute for India.[44] Mister Smith made a four-year deal with Entertainment One for distribution in the UK and the Benelux countries.[45] Other deals were made with Constantin Film for Germany and Austria, Nordisk Film for Scandinavia, and Italia Film for the Middle East.[44] At the start of 2013, DreamWorks announced distribution deals with Acme (the Baltic regions), United King (Israel), Metropolitan Filmexport (France),[46] Leone Film Group (Italy), Shochiku/Pony Canyon (Japan), Monolith (Poland), Blitz (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia), SinemArt and Rapi Films (Indonesia), Fida Film (Turkey), NOS Audiovisuais (Portugal), Odeon (Greece) and TriPictures/DeAPlaneta (Spain).[47]

TV series and specials

Main article: DreamWorks Television

DreamWorks Television was formed in December 1994 as DreamWorks Studios agreed to a $200 million seven-year TV production joint venture with the Capital Cities/ABC.[48] The company was set up to produce series for broadcast network, cable channels and first run syndication with no first look for the ABC Network, but financial incentives favored ABC.[49] The first show, Champs, was scheduled as a mid-season replacement for the ABC network. Dan McDermott was named division chief executive in June 1995.[50] DWTV's first success was Spin City on ABC.[49] The Walt Disney Company bought Capital Cities/ABC in February 1996.[51]

In 2002, the DreamWorks joint venture agreement with ABC ended. That agreement was replaced by a development agreement with NBC with a first look clause, financing for series pick up by the network while taking a financial stake in the show, may finance show sold to other outlets, and NBC paid an annual fee to DreamWorks TV.[49]

In 2013, DreamWorks Television merged with Amblin Television.

Musical artists

Main article: DreamWorks Records

In 1996, six years after Geffen sold Geffen Records to MCA Music Entertainment, he joined Spielberg and Katzenberg to form DreamWorks SKG,[52] which included the subsidiary DreamWorks Records. The label's logo was the last project completed by artist Roy Lichtenstein. The distinctive design, incorporating musical notes in the artist's trademark "dream balloon," debuted on the packaging for "Beautiful Freak," the first album from Los Angeles-based Eels and the second release from the record company.[53]

Geffen Records distributed DreamWorks until 1999, when Interscope Records took over distribution duties (meanwhile, as Interscope and Geffen switched international distribution to Polydor Records, DreamWorks followed suit). Rufus Wainwright was the first to be signed to the new label in early 1996. Henry Rollins (both as a spoken-word artist and with Rollins Band), George Michael, Randy Newman, Morphine, Eels, comedian/actor Chris Rock, and others were also signed to the label. The label was presided over by Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin, who had run Warner Bros. Records until the mid-1990s.

It was announced on November 11, 2003 that Universal Music Group (the former MCA Music Entertainment, and parent of Interscope, Geffen, and Polydor) reached an agreement to acquire DreamWorks Records from DreamWorks SKG for "about $100 million".[54] The purchase came at a time when the music business was "going through major changes" as it struggled to "counter falling sales and the impact of unofficial online music sales". Mo Ostin, the principal executive at DreamWorks Records, said: "Despite the challenges of the music business today, Universal is acquiring a wonderful asset and the sale will assure the strongest possible future for our artists".[55] Under the deal new, DreamWorks Records was placed within the Interscope Geffen A&M label, under the direction of Jimmy Iovine.[54] DreamWorks was folded into Geffen Records in 2004.[56]

Its country music division, meanwhile, remained operational until January 29, 2006, when it was shut down by Universal Music Group Nashville.

Computer and video games

Main article: EA Los Angeles

After releasing a number of titles in the 90s under the DreamWorks Interactive (DWI) label, the studio's biggest hit came in 1999 with the release of the original Medal of Honor video game for the PlayStation console. A year later, the studio was acquired from DreamWorks (and Microsoft, which had part ownership of the company) by Electronic Arts,[57] and soon renamed the studio Electronic Arts Los Angeles (EALA). In 2003, EA moved the studio from its original DWI location in Bel Air to a new Playa Vista site and merged it with Westwood Studios (the original creators of the Command & Conquer series) and EA Pacific (originally Westwood Pacific).[58]

In 2010, it was revealed that EA Los Angeles would be re-branded as Danger Close Games.[59] The studio's direction was to focus exclusively on developing upcoming Medal of Honor games, which for the first time were to abandon their traditional World War II setting. Their first project was the single-player component of Medal of Honor, which was released on October 12, 2010 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.[60] Two years later, on October 23, 2012, they released that game's follow-up, Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

In January 2013, EA announced that the Medal of Honor series was taken 'out of rotation' and put on hold due to the poor reception of Warfighter.[61] In June 2013, DICE, creator of the successful Battlefield franchise, moved employees to the LA location and now has an LA presence called DICE Los Angeles.

Animated productions

Main article: DreamWorks Animation

The studio was formed by the merger of the feature animation division of DreamWorks and Pacific Data Images (PDI). Originally formed under the banner of DreamWorks in 1997 by some of Amblin Entertainment's former animation branch Amblimation alumni, it was spun off into a separate public company in 2004. DreamWorks Animation currently maintains its Glendale campus, as well as satellite studios in India and China.[62]

As of April 2016, its feature films have grossed $13.48 billion worldwide,[63] with a $421.4 million average gross per film.[64] Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third are among the 50 highest-grossing films of all time, and fifteen of the films are among the 50 highest-grossing animated films, with Shrek 2 being the sixth all-time highest. Although the studio also made traditionally animated films in the past, as well as a co-production with Aardman Animations, all of their films now use computer animation. The studio has so far received three Academy Awards, as well as 22 Emmy and numerous Annie Awards, as well as multiple Golden Globe & BAFTA nominations. In recent years, the animation studio has acquired and created new divisions in an effort to diversify beyond the high-risk movie business.

Films produced by DreamWorks Animation were formerly distributed by the live-action DreamWorks studio, then by Paramount Pictures (who acquired the live-action DreamWorks studio in February 2006, and spun it off again in 2008). In early 2013, 20th Century Fox took over a distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation films starting with The Croods.

In August 2016, NBCUniversal, whose subsidiary Universal Pictures entered a distribution deal with the live-action DreamWorks studio via Amblin Partners, acquired DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion.[65][6] DreamWorks Animation's distribution contract with 20th Century Fox will conclude in 2018, after which Universal is expected to handle future releases, starting with Larrikins.[66][67]

See also


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External links

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