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Fox signs five-year Dreamworks Animation distribution deal

Dreamworks Animation has announced today its new theatrical distribution arrangement with 20th Century-Fox. It’s a 5-year deal for Dreamworks animated features to be released from 2013 through 2017. Paramount will release the forthcoming Rise of The Guardians, the last film in its previous arrangement with the studio, and Paramount will continue to distribute all the previous Dreamworks films it handled to TV, DVD and ancillary markets.

Unlike the deal with Blue Sky Studios (which Fox owns completely), Dreamworks remains an independent producer who will pay Fox a fee for its distribution services. It’s an interesting move for both Dreamworks and 20th Century-Fox. For Fox, it gives them two major animation studios to compete against the Disney/Pixar powerhouse. For Dreamworks, it assures first class worldwide distribution for its hefty line-up of films in production. In theory, it sounds like a win-win for everyone – everyone but Paramount.

  • Klyph

    Interesting development. My immediate take-away is get ready for a lot of animated movies made in Asia a la Alpha & Omega/Happily N’ever After/Hoodwinked to be released by Paramount in the next few years.

  • Pedro Nakama

    “It sounds like a win-win for everyone – everyone but Paramount.”

    Sounds like it.

  • Dana

    No surprise to me. It was pretty obvious DW would end up with Fox, seeing Sony already has their own brand-name animation studio. This seems like it will be a nice pairing. With Avatar already in its grasp, Fox is gonna be unstoppable now…

    • James

      Sony also has the Aardman deal, which would have made juggling theatrical release schedules more difficult.

  • What’s stopping Dreamworks from being their own distributor? (Not a criticism, just curious.)

    • James

      Dreamworks’ pockets aren’t quite as deep as deep as the big distributors out there which assist in global distribution deals and marketing. Not to mention Dreamworks stocks had been on the skid prior to this announcement.

      • If anything, I’d say Jeffrey Katzenberg is playing for time on that front. With the shift to all things digital, you can expect theatrical distribution to be an entirely different ballgame in the US come 2017.

      • Don’t forget that a good deal of distribution is marketing. It’s not cost effective to have to set up a distribution company if you only release two films a year. Those films have to generate an awful lot of cash in order to cover the full year’s worth of distribution and marketing overhead.

        Digital distribution will cut costs for making and shipping prints, but will do nothing to cut marketing costs. You’ll still need people to create trailers, ad campaigns and do media buys.

  • I Can’t Draw

    Well Paramount is ramping up their own animation studio with a J.J. Abrams animated project in the works. i’m excited to see what they have in store at this new studio especially if Mr. Abrams is involved with it

  • Anthony D.

    I think MGM or New Line should’ve gotten Dreamworks Animation since I think it would help either studio. But I’m not understanding “Paramount will continue to distribute all the previous Dreamworks films it handled to TV, DVD”. Does this mean that Paramount will own rights to all Dreamworks Animation films from 1998-2012 while Fox will have rights to whatever Dreamworks will make in 2013 and beyond or what?

  • Toonio

    Fox now has both the teeth and the muscle to give Disney a run for it’s money, and Disney is not ready for what its headed their way

    • wever

      Disney was never ready for what was headed their way since 2000!

  • Lib

    So since now they have Dreamworks, maybe they could allow Blue Sky to have more creative freedom instead of, you know, keep forcing them to be another Dreamworks.

  • Manny

    Ain’t Disney and Fox loosely tied together with their creation “Disney XD”?

    And have everyone forgot Warner Bros. at this point?
    After the Hobbit, WB is sure on the deathbed. Just sayin’!

  • wever

    Blue Sky not enough for FOX?

  • Oz

    DW was smart enough not to sign with WB, whose record in distributing theatrical animation remains the worst in the majors. There is now an undeniable CG feature animation market glut and it will be interesting to see if and how it shakes out.


    Everybody says it”s a win-win situation for everyone—except Paramount. It’s not a win-win situation for HBO either, which loses broadcast rights to Dreamworks animation starting next year.

    • Well now, that’s their loss for not ponying up more money than Netflix.

    • VC

      Lets remember that HBO is owned by Time Warner, whose CEO Jeff Bewkes made it very clear during the time when DreamWorks Animation was looking for a distributor that Time Warner wasn’t interested, and to prove it, Bewkes let Katzenberg out of his HBO contract two years earlier than what was originally stated (2014), allowing him to sign on with Netflix before the signing of the Fox deal.

  • fanatica

    WB -> Looney Tunes CGI

    • wever

      The only reason I would ever like this upcoming Bugs Bunny film is if it actually becomes a global box office hit and DOES propel WB into the CG family entertainment competition that it hasn’t yet sought after!

  • Jow

    Ice Age 5: Revenge Of The Kung Fu Panda

  • Maybe….. ?

    Maybe Now Dreamworks can get some Decent Marketing for their movies???? They’ve had the *worst* marketing all the way back to Prince of Egypt.

    • Sarah J

      Exactly what I was thinking! Not JUST for publicity (though FOX is quite good at getting their animated movies out there) but for the content and style of the ads. I’ve been saying for quite a while now that Dreamworks should get someone new to put their ads together, too. Shrek 4 and How To Train Your Dragon were two of their more serious films, but the ads made them look like just more silly cartoony movies. Same for Kung Fu Panda 2, which was quite a bit darker than the first movie, but again, the trailer didn’t show much besides some slapstick. Megamind had a legitimately good twist a bit after halfway through the film, but the ads spoiled it. I really hope FOX is better at putting the ads together.