DreamWorks celebrates 20th anniversary at Cannes

CANNES, France (AP) — Sitting on the terrace of the Carlton Hotel on the Cannes coastline, Jeffery
Katzenberg gazes out at the teeming Croisette. It’s familiar territory.
“We roll big here,” he says. “We’ve been doing this a long time.”
Katzenberg has been a Cannes Film Festival regular for two decades. He’s frequently premiered DreamWorks’
summer releases here, held stunts to capture the attention of the international media, and preached the
gospel of 3-D ahead of its resurgence to the gathered movie industry. He has felt the adulation and the
sting of Cannes’ passionate audiences.
“I have had both,” says Katzenberg with a smile. “I’ve never had an animation film booed. I’ve had
live-action.”
On Friday, the Cannes Film Festival will celebrate the 20th anniversary of DreamWorks Animation with the
premiere of “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” the upcoming 3-D sequel to the 2010 original about a Viking
boy (Jay Baruchel) and his pet dragon, Toothless.
In an interview, Katzenberg reflected less on where DreamWorks has been, than where it’s going.
“It feels pretty surreal because I don’t feel like it’s 20 years,” says Katzenberg. “We’re so much a
work-in-progress it doesn’t feel like a milestone, in a way. If anything, it feels like the end of act
one in a three-act play. We right now, more than any time, have so much opportunity ahead of us.”
It hasn’t been easy going of late for DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., which Katzenberg co-founded with
Steven Spielberg and David Geffen in 1994. All of the major studios now have robust cartoon franchises,
taking up more of the family audience pie. Three of DreamWorks’ last four releases have flopped: the
recent time-traveling “Peabody & Sherman,” the holiday release “Rise of the Guardians” and
2013’s snail tale “Turbo.”
In “Dragon 2,” Katzenberg hopes he has a better chance after the Oscar-nominated original grossed nearly
$500 million worldwide. The sequel, Katzenberg believes, benefits from what he calls “a game-changer for
animation” — a new, more intuitive animation tool dubbed Apollo that allows artists to digitally render
in greater detail.
But the rocky box-office for DreamWorks has perhaps contributed to Katzenberg looking elsewhere for
revenue. He recently made headlines for remarking at a Beverly Hills corporate conference that movies
are not a growth business. He suggested that in five years, studio films might only play in theaters for
three weekends, and would then be sold at various prices according to screen size and time after
release.
that Katzenberg’s remarks stirred consternation in an industry struggling with the rise of digital
entertainment and television’s newfound cachet. But they were also challenged by people like Time Warner
CEO Jeff Bewkes, who pointed to international box office as a big grower.
“The movie business is a very, very good business,” Katzenberg clarified. “The only point I was making is
if you look at the traditional side of movie theater and home video, those businesses have been low
single-digit growth. That’s not a growth industry or a growth business. But there are so many
opportunities around movies — which was the other point I made. Movies have never been seen by more
people around the globe than they are right now.”
DreamWorks has looked to expand into other media realms. Last year it acquired the YouTube network
AwesomenessTV and signed a pact with Netflix to supply 300 hours of exclusive programming based on
DreamWorks Animation characters. Earlier this month, it launched DreamWorksTV, a YouTube channel for
kids. DreamWorks is also developing theme parks and pushing aggressively into China.
Katzenberg says he still believes strongly in the power and profitability of the theatrical movie
business, but “the rest of the enterprise around movie watching is going to go through giant, giant
changes.”
“The question is: What happens after movies leave the movie theater?” he says. “We make our movies to be
seen.”