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‘Dragon’ fires up DreamWorks

May 01, 2010|By Zain Shauk

Glendale-based DreamWorks Animation pulled in a higher than expected net income of $21.7 million in the first quarter of 2010 based on the strong performance from its latest 3-D release, “How to Train Your Dragon,” the studio announced this week.

DreamWorks Animation employs 1,366 workers at its Glendale headquarters and another 569 at a facility in Redwood City. The company is in the process of opening a new Glendale facility.

The positive results came at the start of what DreamWorks Animation expects will be a historic year, Jeffrey Katzenberg, the company’s chief executive, said in a conference call with investors.

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The company will also release “Shrek Forever After,” the fourth and final installment of the juggernaut series, and “Megamind,” which will feature the voices of Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt.

“We will become the first company to achieve the goal of releasing three [computer-animated] films in one year, making 2010 a real watershed moment for the company,” Katzenberg said. “And while our first release certainly got off to a bumpy start, it is now clear that ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ has become DreamWorks Animation’s latest blockbuster.”

“How to Train Your Dragon” jumped to the top of the box office charts in its first week in theaters, bringing in $63 million, but quickly slipped to third and eventually fourth in ticket revenues, according to data from Box Office Mojo, which tracks ticket sales.

The film then bounced back from behind “Clash of the Titans,” “Date Night,” and “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?” to reclaim the top spot last week, with $18.5 million in revenues.

The animated feature has earned $181.6 million at the domestic box office and $196 million internationally, according to the data.

“[‘How to Train your Dragon’] has been a prime example of that old saying: It’s not how you start, it’s where you finish that counts,” Katzenberg said.

Katzenberg expected the film would continue to pick up steam and generate ticket sales, which have come largely from 3-D screens, which accounted for 65% of revenues, he said.

“We believe ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is on track to equal the domestic performance of our 2008 blockbuster ‘Kung Fu Panda,’” he said.

The studio also announced plans to make “How to Train Your Dragon” its latest franchise, with a sequel now planned to be released in 2013 and with a new online “virtual world” and television show in the pipeline, Katzenberg said.

The studio’s first quarter performance was lower than its figures from the start of 2009, when revenues from “Monsters vs. Aliens” and “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” helped it generate a record first-quarter net income of $62.3 million, the company said.

But the early 2010 results were not comparable to 2009, the studio said, because it did not have a film that benefited from a winter release.


Get in touch ZAIN SHAUK covers business and politics. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at zain.shauk@latimes.com.

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