A week after Comcast’s $3.8 billion acquisition of DreamWorks Animation, DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg this morning held an employee town hall meeting at the studio’s Glendale, California HQ with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, Comcast EVP and NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, and NBCU Vice Chairman Ron Meyer in attendance. Intended to give the rank and file a face to face with the new bosses, the meeting also served as a chance to allay employee concerns about the purchase. The practical upshot: those working at the animation powerhouse can expect things to remain as they are.
Putting to bed concerns that DreamWorks may leave Glendale, Roberts was unambiguous. “We will absolutely continue to make animated films here,” he said. Burke was just as firm on that question, telling the crowd ” that’s the whole point of what we’re doing,” and went even further, echoing analyst expectations that the company plans to make full use of DreamWorks brands throughout its media empire. “Everything [DWA animators] create,” Burke said, “is going to be celebrated and marketed and promoted and enjoyed by the rest of this great company.”
Katzenberg for his part was there to make it clear he believes the company is in good hands. Explaining his reasons for backing the sale, he told employees “you people have helped me build this company – it is as much yours as it is mine. Your loyalty and your passion – your incredible hard work. I owe this to you.”
Katzenberg also cited his longstanding friendship with the three men and their “love and respect” for “creative people, creative talents and storytellers,” telling employees that “these are people that have come to build. I trust them – and so should you.”
The Comcast acquisition comes as DreamWorks Animation has recently expanded its agreement with Netflix making the streaming service, as the company put it in January, “the global home, outside of China, to a number of new original series.” Netflix also has premium channel TV rights to DWA films, and the studio is one of the biggest suppliers of original kids programming on Netflix. DreamWorks also has a library of 32 films, and owns Classic Media, home of Where’s Waldo, Casper, Lassie, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer among others.
DreamWorks Animation also puts out two films a year, an output Burke says Comcast has no intention of slowing. “If we could go from two animated films a year to four animated films a year by having two different parts of our company making those films,” he said, “that would really advance our desire to be everything we could possibly be in the entertainment business.