News Column

'The Croods' helps DreamWorks Animation profit top expectations

August 1, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 01--With the help of some cavemen, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. delivered a stronger-than-anticipated profit in the second quarter.

The Glendale studio reported net income of $22.2 million, or $0.26 a share, on revenue of $213.4 million during the quarter ended June 30.

That's well above net income of $12.8 million, or $0.15, on revenue of $162.8 million, during the same period a year earlier. The results easily exceeded the 20 cents a share estimate analysts had predicted.

"DreamWorks Animation significantly outperformed in the second quarter, thanks primarily to 'The Croods' ' incredibly successful box-office run, where it has amassed $584 million worldwide to become the fifth-highest-grossing movie of the year," said Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation.

"We also have a great deal of momentum within our television, consumer products and location-based entertainment businesses today, as DreamWorks Animation continues to diversify and evolve into a branded family entertainment company."

"The Croods," released March 22, has reached $397.5 million at the international box office for a worldwide gross of $583.9 million to date. The caveman comedy contributed $71.8 million of revenue to the quarter.

"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" generated $48.9 million in the quarter, mainly from worldwide pay television. The studio also got lift from its library and revenue from newly acquired assets Classic Media and the YouTube teen network Awesomeness TV, which Dreamworks Animation bought in May for $33 million.

DreamWorks Animation shares rose 47 cents, or 1.9%, to $24.76 on Wednesday and climbed 5% in after-hours trading.

The company's shares stumbled in July after the poor debut of the studio's most recent movie, "Turbo," which brought in just $21.5 million in its first weekend.

Piper Jaffray analyst James Marsh said recently that the film's poor performance could result in a write-down of as much as $50 million. DreamWorks Animation took an $87-million write-down in February for the holiday movie "Rise of the Guardians."

But in a call with analysts, executives said they expected that "Turbo" would ultimately be profitable because of a strong performance internationally.

Katzenberg said the film, about a snail who wants to race fast cars, was hurt by an overcrowding of the animation market this summer.

"We just ran into a perfect storm of way too many movies," he said. "We've never experienced this level of animation congestion in a period of time."

DreamWorks Animation also announced Wednesday that it has tapped former Nickelodeon executive Marjorie Cohn to head the studio's new TV group, which will develop and produce 1,200 hours of original episodes over the next five years.

During her 26-year tenure at Viacom's Nickelodeon, Cohn was involved in the creation and production of some of the industry's most successful children's programs, including "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Rugrats" and "iCarly."

The hiring comes as DreamWorks Animation looks to lessen its dependence on animated movies by branching into the competitive world of children's television. The studio this year announced distribution deals to produce animated TV shows for the online streaming service Netflix and Germany's Super RTL.

"We're going to be making a ton of television," Cohn said. "They have so much content lying around just waiting to be exploited."

The studio is already producing a TV series for Netflix, a spinoff from its recent release called "Turbo F.A.S.T.," and "Dragons: Rider of Berk" for the Cartoon Network. Nickelodeon has produced several TV shows for DreamWorks Animation, including "Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness," which is nominated for an Emmy.

"Margie has tremendous instincts when it comes to kids' programming, and we can't wait to unleash her creative force on DreamWorks' vast IP to bring exciting new content to families across the world," DreamWorks Animation Chief Operating Officer Ann Daly said in a statement.

DreamWorks Animation will hire several hundred people, mostly in Southern California, to work on the upcoming TV shows.

Joining Cohn as head of television production is TV veteran Mark Taylor, who was most recently at the helm of Nickelodeon Animation Studio.

richard.verrier@latimes.com

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