Jeff Katzenberg: ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ Could Be China’s Top-Grossing Animated Film Ever


DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg wants to persuade Wall Street that his company’s strong Q4 results were not a fluke — with Kung Fu Panda 3‘s performance, especially in China, Exhibit A.

“Momentum is on our side,” he told analysts in the company’s quarterly call to discuss earnings.

The animated film has generated about $118 million at domestic box offices. But its performance in China “serves as proof” that Oriental DreamWorks — a joint venture with multiple investment companies in the country — “is building a world class studio for what will soon be the largest entertainment marketplace in the world.”

KFP3 has already generated $144 million there, and was just given a 30-day extension to play in China. That’s put it “on its way to being one of the highest-grossing animated releases of all time.” It is about to open in 74 additional markets.

Katzenberg acknowledged that weakening foreign currency exchange rates vs the strong dollar present DWA with “pretty strong headwinds,” especially in Russia. But “these are all macro issues that businesses have to deal with.”

On other matters, the CEO said DWA plans to distribute live-action TV content in “a financially disciplined fashion” spending less than $10 million in 2016.

The company said that last year it invested about $15 million for a 20% stake in a 3D technology company called Nova, and recently raised $25 million to bring its stake up to 64%. The firm has a valuation of $125 million.

DWA president Ann Daly says she’s confident that Trolls, for this year’s holiday season, will help to sell a lot of licensed merchandise. “The early response has been really terrific,” she says, saying that it could become “one of the strongest licensing things we’ve seen at the company.”

And, in response to a question, Katzenberg says that B.O.O., a film that the company had put on pause, is “still shelved.”

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