Tuesday, July 24, 2012

3D Animation Roundup: ME AND MY SHADOW, DESPICABLE ME MINIONS And DWA Acquires Casper, Voltron And More...

Tons of 3D animation news this week! Lets start off with a poster from Dreamworks Animation and their all-star cast for the upcoming 2014 film ME AND MY SHADOW, featuring Josh Gad (Love and Other Drugs), Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs) and Kate Hudson (Almost Famous, Something Borrowed).

Animation veteran Alessandro Carloni, who most recently served as head of story on DreamWorks Animation's Academy Award-nominated HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, will make his directorial debut on Me & My Shadow. Melissa Cobb (KUNG FU PANDA 1 and 2) will produce and Jeff Hermann (KUNG FU PANDA 1 and 2) will co-produce. Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember (GET SMART) are writing the screenplay. The original script was written by Steve Bencich and Ron J. Friedman.

When recently asked about traditional hand drawn animation, DreamWorks Animation Chief Creative Officer Bill Damaschke spoke about the hybrid animation in ME AND MY SHADOW:

"Me And My Shadow, which is out in spring of 2014, is a combination of CG and traditional hand drawn animation. There is a reason to tell the story in that fashion. It's about what would happen if your shadow, that has been following you around and basically just follows what you do your whole life, just stood up and took over. The shadows will be animated hand drawn, and the other characters will be CG animated. There is a reason to do it [hand drawn animation] that felt creatively interesting."

Here's the storyline for ME & MY SHADOW:
Me And My Shadow reveals the once secret world of shadows and their human counterparts. Stan, our hero's shadow, yearns for a more exciting life but happens to be stuck with Stanley Grubb, a timid guy with an extreme aversion to adventure. When a crime in the shadow world puts both of their lives in danger, Stan is forced to take control of Stanley. They go on a madcap adventure to investigate the crime and stop the shadow villain from leading a rebellion where shadows take over the human world. During this adventure, Stan empowers Stanley to let go of his fears and embrace life. Through their adventure, they both learn that one cannot be whole without a true friend. 

Look for ME AND MY SHADOW in the Spring of 2013. Here's the official Facebook page.


One of the best features of the DESPICABLE ME franchise are those minions. They are pretty irresistible aren't they? Very funny stuff indeed. In fact, they are so irresistible that they have secured their own movie!

Yes, according to Deadline, Universal Picture are going to spawn a spin off movie from the original franchise.

Apparently Pierre Coffin (DESPICABLE ME) will direct with Kyle Balda (THE LORAX) acting as co-director and Brian Lynch (PUSS IN BOOTS) writing the screenplay.

Look for the minions in their own big screen movie in 2014.


And back to Dreamworks Animation - HUGE news. The studio has just acquired a treasure trove of characters and properties from Classic Media. Just how classic? How about Casper The Friendly Ghost, The Lone Ranger (doesn't affect the Disney movie that's about to pop), Voltron, George Of The Jungle, Rocky And Bullwinkle, Lassie and Where's Waldo?, not to mention all the characters in the Golden Books series. The price of the deal was valued at $155m.

Congratulations to everyone involved and continued success with these iconic brands.

Here's the official press release:
DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Classic Media, owner of one of the most extensive portfolios featuring many of the best-known and most-enduring franchises in all of family entertainment, for $155 million in cash from Boomerang Media Holdings I LLC, a portfolio company of Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR.

Classic Media’s library of intellectual property, which is focused on family characters and brands, features a vast collection of filmed entertainment with over 450 titles and more than 6,100 episodes of animated and live-action programming. Classic Media owns one of the world’s largest comic book archives and media rights to the titles in the Golden Books library, which have sold over two billion copies worldwide. Their properties have been distributed in over 170 territories around the globe.

With well-established titles such as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Where’s Waldo?, Lassie, The Lone Ranger, George of the Jungle and Rocky And Bullwinkle, Classic Media’s properties have been a fixture in mainstream entertainment for decades. The Christmas Classics – Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town – are the longest-running, highest-rated holiday specials in television history. Classic Media counts among its holdings contemporary bestsellers such as VeggieTales and the beloved Olivia property, as well as hits Postman Pat and Noddy in international markets.

“Classic Media brings a large and diverse collection of characters and branded assets that is extremely complementary to DreamWorks Animation’s franchise business, and we plan to leverage it across our motion picture, television, home entertainment, consumer products, digital, theme park and live entertainment channels,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chief Executive Officer of DreamWorks Animation. “Founders and co-CEOs Eric Ellenbogen and John Engelman – seasoned executives with over 20 years of industry experience and a proven track record of success in managing high-quality content – have built an amazing team at Classic Media and are a welcome addition to the DreamWorks Animation family.”

Classic Media has approximately 80 employees and is headquartered in New York City, with offices in the UK and a division, Big Idea Entertainment, in Nashville, TN.

“No company knows the family entertainment business better than DreamWorks Animation and we are excited to join their family in a natural extension of our long-standing relationship that began years ago on Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” said Eric Ellenbogen, co-CEO of Classic Media. “Classic Media brings to the table extensive rights to some of the most beloved family entertainment brands in the world. Our combination with DreamWorks Animation will expand the opportunities for us and for our content and distribution partners around the globe.”

Classic Media’s joint venture with Jay Ward Productions, a legend in animation, manages the rights to the entire Jay Ward animated catalog, which includes Rocky And Bullwinkle and Mr. Peabody And Sherman. DreamWorks Animation’s 3D feature film Mr. Peabody And Sherman is scheduled for release on December 25, 2013.

“For over 75 years, Classic Media’s iconic properties have entertained kids and families around the world with a unique, cross-generational appeal that is also a defining characteristic of DreamWorks Animation’s films,” added Bill Damaschke, Chief Creative Officer at DreamWorks Animation. “We believe their characters and brands will continue to serve as a creative magnet for the industry’s top directors, producers and artists.”

For the 12 months ended February 29, 2012, Classic Media earned net revenue of $82.2 million and operating profit of $19.2 million.The acquisition of Classic Media will be financed through a combination of cash and borrowings under DreamWorks Animation’s revolving credit facility. The purchase price of $155 million includes amounts required to retire indebtedness.

“As part of DreamWorks Animation’s ongoing diversification strategy, this acquisition combines our hit-driven business with Classic Media’s extensive and sustainable library revenue stream,” added Lew Coleman, DreamWorks Animation’s President and Chief Financial Officer. “We expect the transaction to be accretive to our earnings in the first full year following the completion of the acquisition.”

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the expiration or termination of the required waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. DreamWorks Animation expects that the transaction will be completed during the quarter ended September 30, 2012.

J.P. Morgan Chase And Co. acted as financial advisor and Cravath, Swaine And Moore LLP and O’Melveny And Myers LLP served as legal advisors to DreamWorks Animation in connection with the transaction. Jefferies And Company, Inc. acted as financial advisor and Kirkland And Ellis LLP served as legal advisor to Classic Media in connection with the transaction.

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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