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BREAKING: Margie Cohn Named President Of Dreamworks Animation; Chris DeFaria Will Exit The Studio

Margie Cohn has been named president of Dreamworks Animation (DWA), Universal Filmed Entertainment Group announced today.

Cohn, who previously served as president of Dreamworks Animation Television, will now oversee both film and television operations, reporting to Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures.

Chris deFaria, who had been president of Dreamworks Feature Animation Group for the last two years, will depart DWA in the coming months following the global release of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. He will continue to consult with Comcast NBCUniversal on “a number of special initiatives.” In addition to overseeing the completion of the new Dragon feature, deFaria launched the Dreamworks Shorts program and the opening of the new Dreamworks Theater attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood.

“As we look to design the next chapter in Dreamworks Animation’s iconic history, we see opportunity in aligning the film and television businesses under a singular vision,” said Langley. “Margie is a proven executive with the right creative instincts and results-oriented skill set to make Dreamworks an innovative and seamless organization where artists can create original, high-quality content for audiences worldwide.”

On her hiring, Cohn said, “Over the last five years, I’ve had the privilege to work alongside our studio’s Feature Animation Group, and I have the utmost respect for the deep worlds and endearing characters they have created. I am honored that Jeff [Shell] and Donna have given me this opportunity and I look forward to working with the greater Dreamworks creative community and Chris Meledandri, with a shared goal of creating premium family entertainment that is relevant and enduring.”

The reference to Illumination founder and CEO Meledandri hints that Universal plans to more closely integrate Dreamworks and Illumination, both of which it owns. Melendandri has been a senior advisor to Universal, and he is currently working on “re-imagining” DWA’s Shrek franchise. Illumination executive Latifa Ouaou is also spearheading development on a Puss in Boots sequel.

Meledandri said in a statement today, “I look forward to working with Margie and the talented team of artists at Dreamworks Animation to help expand on the rich tradition of character creation, storytelling, and artistry that people have come to associate with the studio.”

The DWA film and television businesses will continue to maintain separate production operations under Cohn, with feature animation expected to release two films a year beginning in 2019 with How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Abominable, its co-production with Pearl Studio.

Additional Dreamworks films currently in production include Trolls World Tour, The Croods 2, and The Boss Baby 2, and the studio is currently in development on an original film slate to complement its franchise sequels.

Prior to joined Dreamworks in 2013, Cohn spent 26 years at Nickelodeon, where in various development and production roles she helped produce shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Fairly Oddparents, Spongebob Squarepants, iCarly, and the Kids’ Choice Awards, in addition to over 20 made-for-TV movies.

At Dreamworks’ tv animation unit, she oversaw the studio as it produced Guillermo del Toro’s Trollhunters (part of the “Tales of Arcadia” trilogy), The Adventures of Puss in Boots, All Hail King Julien, Dragons: Race to the Edge, The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, The Boss Baby: Back in Business, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Spirit Riding Free, Trolls: The Beat Goes On!, Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny, and most recently, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.

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