NBCUniversal to Acquire DreamWorks Animation in $3.8B Deal
Comcast’s NBCUniversal made things official on Thursday, unveiling a deal to acquire DreamWorks Animation in a deal that puts an equity value of $3.8 billion on the studio, or an enterprise value of $4.1 billion when including debt.
Comcast said the deal was ”a great opportunity to strengthen NBCU’s film animation business, build its consumer products business, expand its theme park attractions and enhance its position in the kids TV space.” As such, it would create a bigger competitor to Walt Disney in the lucrative family entertainment space.
Jeffrey Katzenberg (the “K” in “Dreamworks SKG”), who was also the driving force behind the Disney Renaissance in the 1990s, will continue on as a consultant, mostly through Dreamworks’ digital companies.
But, what bang does NBCU get for it billions of bucks?
Well, the Dreamworks movies, of course. Shrek. Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and many more.
But while that’s a good chunka, there’s another part that most people don’t know about: Dreamworks Classic, formerly known as Classic Media. Dreamworks Animation paid $155 Million for the company in 2012. What did they get?
Here’s a visual scorecard. Some are owned outright, others are partnerships involving licensing or distribution deals. You might recognize a few friends from your childhood…
…and other United Productions of America properties, including an additional 11 Oscar nominees.
Via Broadway Video, they own a huge video library of rights including:
The Lone Ranger (briefly owned by Disney, so they could acquire the Disneyland Hotel!) Also Sgt. Preston and Lassie!
Total Television‘s cartoon creations.
Other properties acquired, either completely, or in partnership:
[You know, with Jay Ward and Total Television, NBCU could create a franchise with General Mills or Quaker Oats characters!]
…and many more! [via Wikipedia]
- Felix the Cat
- Where’s Waldo?
- Theodore Tugboat
- Tribune Media Services catalog (Dick Tracy, Brenda Starr, Reporter, Gasoline Alley, Broom-Hilda, etc.)
- Several Godzilla films, under license from Toho
- [Filmation’s various licensed properties.]
But what’s this got to do with comics? A. LOT.
Dreamworks owns Harvey Entertainment, home of Caspar, Richie, Wendy, Dot, Lotta, Audrey, Huey, Stumbo (but not Sad Sack).
Remember Gold Key Comics? They were part of Western Publishing/Golden Books, which also owned Broadway Video. In 2001, during a bankruptcy auction, Classic Media got the media and merchandising rights, and Random House got the publishing properties.
So, what does this mean?
Well… Universal Studios gains a lot of new properties to add to their theme parks! (Some of the characters mentioned above are already there!) Universal could make a deal with Disney… Universal gives up their Marvel rights, with a ten-year moratorium on Disney building any attractions (but allowing meet-and-greets). Universal then replaces that segment in Islands of Adventure with Dreamworks franchises (although some of them might be under contract to other attractions). NBCU already owns the Minions (via Illumination Entertainment)…could you imagine a “dark ride” through Gru’s house and into the underground laboratory? Lord Farquaad’s castle perpetually mocking Cinderella’s? Kung Fu Panda? Madagascar? (Or Universal could sign a deal with CBS and Paramount and create a Starfleet Experience to compete with Star Wars Land.)
Universal gets another animation studio (along with Illumination) led by Chris Meledandri, which can better compete with Disney. Which, incidentally, puts more pressure on Warner Animation Group and Sam Register, which has been slow to follow up the success of The Lego Movie in 2014. It could be argued that WAG is #4, behind Fox’s Blue Sky Studios (Peanuts, Ice Age).
NBC Universal is already the largest media conglomerate, so interesting times are ahead. Universal Studios has been consistently profitable, even in years where they didn’t have a blockbuster like Jurassic World. If you want to check what NBCU owns, click here. They’re completely owned by Comcast.
I’ve been writing for The Beat since July of 2010.
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