DreamWorks: Pure Creativity
There is one true rival to the great animation giant Pixar, and that is DreamWorks. Their non-animated movies have seen success, but it’s the company’s animated division that has truly made it an important part of the American (and worldwide) entertainment industry.
A Brilliant Idea
Jeffery Katzenberg, media mogul, left Disney in 1994 to do something entirely new. To accomplish this, he joined with one of the world’s greatest directors and producers, Stephen Spielberg. Spielberg, in turn, brought in a third collaborator, David Geffen. From this alliance, DreamWorks was formed with each partner contributing $33 million, plus an extra $500 million from one of the founders of Microsoft, Paul Allen.
DreamWorks was a success virtually right out of the gate. They produced the haunting American Beauty, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1999. Next came the acclaimed Roman epic Gladiator, which won the top Oscar for 2000. The very next year, the DreamWorks production won again for A Beautiful Mind.
The animated division of DreamWorks was making its own acclaimed hits, already challenging Disney and Pixar, the reigning rulers of animated movies. Some of the most popular animated films ever, including Antz, Prince of Egypt, Chicken Run, Shrek, and Shrek 2, were produced by DreamWorks.
The DreamWorks animated division split from the main DreamWorks company in 1994, but this did not slow down its momentum at all. They produced even greater hits, from the remaining two Shrek movies, to the Madagascar franchise, to the Kung Fu Panda movies, to How to Train Your Dragon to Megamind. By mid-2013, just DreamWorks Animation has made $11 billion in worldwide sales, with only Pixar outpacing their average gross for each movie. Three of the Shrek movies were among the highest 50 moneymakers of all time, with 16 of them among the highest grossing animated films in history. They have gathered a number of prestigious awards, from Academy Awards, to Golden Globes, to Annies and Emmys.
Shrek 2 was even popular enough to spawn a pair of fragrances. For the girls was the Donkey Edition, a bright clean scent of smooth vanilla and tart orange, perfect for a young wearer. Boys could purchase Swamp Scent: bergamot and petitgrain, with just a hint of orange blossom, balanced with woody tones for something a bit more boyish than the original Shrek 2 perfume.
A Multi-Faceted Company
DreamWorks returned to its roots, Walt Disney, in 2009 with a deal to produce 30 movies under the Touchstone label, releasing 5 movies per year. While some of these films, like Cowboys & Aliens, Fright Night, and I Am Number Four saw only moderate success, Dreamworks is still producing some of the greatest movies of the recent past, including War Horse, Real Steel, The Help, and the Academy Award-winning Lincoln. War Horse and Lincoln, both major successes, brought back the talents of DreamWorks founder Steven Spielberg back into the fold.
Through its connection to David Geffen, DreamWorks has a record label, as well. Under their umbrella are such artists as John Fogerty, Nelly Furtado, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Toby Keith, Papa Roach, Rakim, Randy Travis, and many others.
Some great television shows have also been produced under the DreamWorks banner, including The Pacific, a 10-part documentary about the Pacific Theater in the Second World War, created through the team of Spielberg and Tom Hanks. These two recreated the massive success generated by their previous World War II effort, Band of Brothers, to win an Emmy Award for The Pacific.
DreamWorks main source of acclaim still comes from its movies, however, both serious and whimsical, live action and animated. The company is still moving forward with sequels to How to Train Your Dragon in the works, a third Kung Fu Panda movie, and a picture based on the immensely popular children’s book series, Captain Underpants.
The original DreamWorks studio is not resting on the recent award-winner Lincoln. The comedy Delivery Man will soon arrive, as will The Fifth Estate, a movie based on the Wikileaks story. The creative minds that drive DreamWorks have touched lives around the world in so many ways, making people laugh, cry, and think, showing them worlds of fantasy, worlds of the past, and glimpses into lives that have changed history.