‘DreamWorks’ Success in 2020 Thanks to ‘Trolls: World Tour’ and ‘The Croods: A New Age

Croods Dreamworks Animation

In a landscape dominated by billion-dollar superhero blockbusters and massive streaming deals, animation often takes a back seat when measuring success in Hollywood. However, DreamWorks Animation, a subsidiary of Universal, has defied the odds over the past year and demonstrated impressive resilience despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

DreamWorks Animation boasts “The Croods: A New Age,” the longest-running movie of the pandemic, which continues to perform well in theaters, even surpassing Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” in domestic earnings. The studio has also expanded its output with a record nine streaming shows that have been released since the pandemic began, utilizing intellectual property from the Universal library.

This success represents a fulfillment of a promise, especially considering the slow start that followed NBCUniversal’s acquisition of DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion in 2016. The studio initially struggled to distinguish itself from Universal’s already profitable Illumination Entertainment, known for the “Minions” franchise.

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Margie Cohn, president of DreamWorks Animation, has played a crucial role in the studio’s transformation. Her leadership has been instrumental in navigating the challenges of the past 15 months, from pioneering the release of “Trolls: World Tour” on premium video on demand (PVOD) in March 2020, which broke traditional theatrical release windows, to the continued success of “The Croods: A New Age.”

The release of “Trolls: World Tour” marked the beginning of a new era for theatrical releases. While the move initially caused controversy with global exhibitors, it allowed Universal to offer 17 days of theatrical exclusivity before releasing films on PVOD. The film brought in roughly $80 million in direct profit to Universal, providing entertainment to families confined at home during the pandemic.

The studio’s remarkable success story extends to “The Croods: A New Age,” which opened at No. 1 over the Thanksgiving holiday, even as the country faced pandemic challenges. The movie, available for digital rental while in theaters, has earned over $160 million worldwide and continues to perform well. This success highlights the demand for quality family entertainment.

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DreamWorks Animation has also thrived in the streaming arena, producing content for platforms like Apple TV Plus, Hulu, and Netflix. The studio’s adaptability to digital animation production allowed it to maintain productivity during the pandemic. With over 20 active series in production and plans to explore live-action animation hybrid projects and adult animation, the studio is poised to continue growing.

Looking ahead, Margie Cohn emphasizes the importance of culture and collaboration in the studio, underscoring the significance of personal connections and mentorship, especially for younger team members. DreamWorks Animation remains dedicated to building new franchises and expanding its presence in the highly competitive animation industry. The studio’s future plans are eagerly anticipated, and Cohn hints that they will be unveiled in 2022.

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