DreamWorks Animation Fires 500 People, Delays 'How to Train Your Dragon 3'

Monday, 26 January 2015 09:46 Written by  iamrogue
Rate this item
(3 votes)
DreamWorks Animation Fires 500 People, Delays 'How to Train Your Dragon 3'

Big, big changes are afoot at DreamWorks Animation, which is cutting jobs and scaling back from three to two theatrical releases a year after a series of commercial disappointments.

The studio has been very ambitious for the last several years, and it has had successes like The Croods and the third Madagascar movie, but Rise of the Guardians, Turbo, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and Penguins of Madagascar all failed to light the box office on fire.  How to Train Your Dragon 2, seen as a sure thing, underperformed domestically last summer, though it did gangbusters business abroad.

In response to these disappointments, DreamWorks already removed Kung Fu Panda 3 and B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherwordly Operations from its 2015 slate, leaving the original scifi comedy Home as its only release this year.

Now, Variety brings word that the studio is more fundamentally rejiggering, laying off roughly 500 employees across every location and division of the company, effectively closing its Northern California PDI/DreamWorks facility.  The work will take place pretty much exclusively at the Glendale, California facilities from here on out.

“I think we were top heavy and given that we are right sizing the entire operation and focusing the company on the businesses we are in today, rather than businesses we imagined we might be in, this is the right sizing that we need,” said Dreamworks Animation honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg.

During a conference call with analysts, Katzenberg also conceded that three films a year was “too ambitious. I want us to get back to making two great blockbuster films a year. We want to get back to basics here.”

With the exception of 2015, DreamWorks will drop one sequel and one original per-year for the next several years.  Its reshuffled release schedule now looks like this:

  • Kung Fu Panda - March 18, 2016
  • Trolls - November 4, 2016
  • Boss Baby - January 13, 2017
  • The Croods 2 - December 22, 2017
  • Larrikins - February 16, 2018
  • How to Train your Dragon 3 - June 29, 2018

The third How to Train Your Dragon was initially scheduled for the summer of 2016, but following the slight disappointment of the first sequel, DreamWorks shifted it back to 2017.  Now it's set to hit a year later than that.

While it's not on the release schedule, B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations is back in development. Additionally, the studio is scaling back the budgets of its upcoming features, with the cost of Trolls being cut to $120 million.

Katzenberg, who famously founded the animation studio after departing Disney, where he presided over The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, is taking a far more hands-on approach for the time being.

“My time and my focus needs to be on making blockbuster films," he said.  "We have the people to do it.  That’s where my energy is going to be focused.”

“Feature animation is the core of our company.  Getting our feature film business back on track is our number one priority,” Katzenberg declared.

More in this category

Follow ROGUE

Latest Trailers

view more »