'Shrek' studio Dreamworks remakes itself with a flurry of deals

Sun Aug 4, 2013 9:03am EDT
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By Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc, the studio that built one of Hollywood's largest film franchises on the back of a green ogre named Shrek, has suddenly become one of the entertainment industry's busiest dealmakers.

In the last year, Dreamworks has bought a YouTube network aimed at teenagers and picked up a company that controls such iconic characters as Lassie and Casper the Friendly Ghost. It acquired the rights to the Troll toy franchise and in June, signed a deal to produce a TV series for streaming video service Netflix Inc. It also plans to build a $3 billion entertainment complex with partners in China.

And Dreamworks isn't finished.

"There will definitely be more deals," Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said in an interview. "I have never seen more opportunities to build our brand in our 19 years in business."

Katzenberg will not say what else is on his list, or whether he prefers to buy or partner with other companies.

One thing still percolating, he says, is a Dreamworks cable channel, "but there's nothing out there right now for us."

A few years back, Dreamworks considered selling itself to a larger media company in hopes of converting its cable channel to one featuring Dreamworks movies or TV shows, according to news reports at the time.

Dreamworks' acquisition spree comes at a time when the animated film market has become so saturated with studio-backed fare that the studio's most recent entry, "Turbo," debuted with two other animated films already in the market.   Continued...

Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation, arrives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences 4th annual Governors Awards in Hollywood in this file photo from December 1, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files