DreamWorks’ Katzenberg Still Seeks Advice From Spielberg

Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive officer of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., said he still solicits feedback on movies from director and business partner Steven Spielberg.

“I sent ‘Peabody & Sherman’ to Steven last week for his notes,” Katzenberg said yesterday at the 92nd Street Y in New York. “That will never change.”

Katzenberg separated DreamWorks Animation in 2004 from the studio he formed a decade earlier with Spielberg and music executive David Geffen. The two partners remain key advisers, Katzenberg said. DreamWorks Animation plans to release three feature films in 2014, including “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” in March.

“Steven is the dreamer, David is the entrepreneur and I’m the builder,” Katzenberg said during the onstage interview with Josh Tyrangiel, editor of Bloomberg Businessweek.

Spielberg is principal partner in Los Angeles-based DreamWorks Studios, a separate company that focuses on live-action films, including last year’s “Lincoln.” He and Geffen are still investors in the Glendale, California-based animation company run by Katzenberg.

Mr. Peabody is a talking dog who is smarter than any human, and his sidekick is a boy, Sherman. The characters are derived from television’s “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show,” and were part of Classic Media, the company DreamWorks Animation purchased for $155 million in July 2012.

‘Too Dark’

Of the 20 movies released by DreamWorks Animation, 19 have been profitable, Katzenberg said. Only “Rise of the Guardians” has lost money, he said.

“It was too dark,” Katzenberg said of “Guardians.” “It’s unfortunate. In my opinion it was a good piece of storytelling.”

The film, released in November 2012, cost $145 million to make and generated $306.9 million at the global box office, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. The cost doesn’t include marketing. Receipts are split with exhibitors.

DreamWorks Animation films are about 90 minutes long and cost about $1.7 million a minute to produce, Katzenberg said.

“The animation process is very different from live action,” said Katzenberg, the former Walt Disney Co. executive who has been involved in films ranging from 1978’s “Grease” and “The Lion King” in 1994. “Right now we have 11 movies in various stages of production and each will take four to five years to make.”

DreamWorks Animation added 2.2 percent to $33.44 yesterday in New York. The stock has more than doubled this year.

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