DreamWorks Animation, a frontrunner in the animation industry, has recently announced a significant downsizing, laying off approximately 70 of its staffers, which equates to about four percent of its workforce. This step, as gathered from multiple reports, is a reaction to unpredictable box office results, escalating production costs, and setbacks from guild strikes.
Layoffs and Cost-Reduction Measures
- A spokesperson for DreamWorks confirmed to both Variety and Deadline that the workforce has been reduced by around 70 positions.
- The roles affected span across corporate functions, feature films, television, and technology departments.
- As a part of a strategic shift, DreamWorks will reduce in-house production, turning more towards third-party studios to manage some of their projects.
- Earlier reports from Cartoon Brew were the first to break the news about the layoffs at DreamWorks Animation.
Upcoming Releases & Collaborations
- Nsync is slated to reunite after nearly two decades to contribute a song, “Better Place,” to the third installment of the Trolls movie series, “Trolls Band Together”, set to hit the theaters on November 17.
- The stellar voice cast for this animated feature boasts names such as Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, Camila Cabello, Eric André, Kid Cudi, Troye Sivan, Daveed Diggs, Amy Schumer, RuPaul, Kenan Thompson, and several others.
- DreamWorks’ collaboration with Netflix birthed “Orion and the Dark,” penned by Charlie Kaufman, based on Emma Yarlett’s 2014 book. The animated family comedy is about a boy tackling his deepest fears, directed by Sean Charmatz, and will be launched by Netflix in 2024.
- Another notable mention includes “Curses!”, a new animated series ordered by Apple TV+, produced by DreamWorks Animation, with John Krasinski in the executive producers’ team.
Changes in Production Strategy
- Inside sources divulged that the studio executives introduced a new “mixed-production” work model, planned for feature films starting in 2025.
- This innovative approach involves partnerships, one being with Sony Pictures Imageworks in Vancouver, known for its commendable projects like Spider-Verse, Hotel Transylvania, and The Sea Beast.
- The production tax breaks in British Columbia coupled with Imageworks’ renowned reputation make this collaboration lucrative.
- Before his role at DreamWorks Animation as COO, Randy Lake was associated with Imageworks, overseeing the period when most of its production operations transitioned to Vancouver from Los Angeles.
- Erika Burton, DreamWorks Animation’s EVP of Feature Production, informed the staff that the internal team would govern all creative front end, sharing the asset builds evenly with Imageworks. Additionally, the Sony studio will undertake 20 minutes of production, including entire sequences.
- As for DreamWorks’ 2024 ventures, “Kung Fu Panda 4” and the newly revealed adaptation “The Wild Robot” will be produced entirely in-house. Conversely, the studio’s project with Netflix, “Orion and the Dark,” will be manufactured by the partner studio Mikros Animation in Paris and Bangalore.
Adapting to the New Landscape
DreamWorks Animation, with its rich history and legacy, has always been at the forefront of the animation industry. Their recent restructuring and collaborations underscore their commitment to not just survive but thrive in the ever-evolving entertainment landscape.
- Diversified Portfolio: The studio’s diversified approach, with films ranging from comedic family dramas to dark whimsical tales, speaks to its versatile creative vision. Upcoming projects like “Orion and the Dark” and “Curses!” showcase the studio’s ability to explore a variety of genres and narratives, catering to diverse audience preferences.
- Leveraging Collaborations: DreamWorks’ partnerships with studios like Sony Pictures Imageworks and Mikros Animation highlight their strategy to leverage external expertise while still retaining their unique creative voice. These collaborations ensure a blend of innovative technology and creative storytelling, potentially leading to groundbreaking projects in the future.
While DreamWorks Animation faces challenges due to market uncertainties, the company’s strategy pivot and collaborations with notable studios position it to navigate through these tumultuous times. With exciting projects on the horizon, fans and stakeholders alike await the next chapter in DreamWorks’ journey.