Netflix and DreamWorks Animation announced their completion of an agreement for the streaming video service to begin offering DreamWorks films and television specials in 2013 (via The New York Times). For the studio, the dealâunder which Netflix will pay an estimated $30 million per picture, according to analystsâreplaces a licensing agreement between DreamWorks and HBO.
DreamWorks Animation chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg tells the Times that the deal is âgame-changing,â in that it represented the first time a major Hollywood studio chose a video streaming service over a pay-TV network for distribution of its films. But others see the announcementârumors of which first surfaced in Julyâas more of a stopgap publicity measure for Netflix, which is still responding to customer outcry over its price increases and further separation of the companyâs discs-by-mail and streaming services.
CNET contends that the company needs to land major-studio streaming content sooner rather than later, as Netflixâs distribution pact with Starz (under which the company has offered streaming films from Disney and Sony Pictures) is due to end in February 2012.
Chinese online video site Youku.com continues to add Hollywood content to its movie streaming service, announcing a deal Monday with DreamWorks Animation for distribution of the studioâs two âKung Fu Pandaâ films.
Both âKung Fu Pandaâ titles (which are distributed by Paramount Pictures) have debuted on Youku Premium, the siteâs paid video-on-demand service. They Â subsequently will screen for free on Youkuâs Hollywood Movie Channel.
Youku also offers paid streams of Warner Bros. movies, including films from the âHarry Potterâ franchise, under an agreement to distribute as many as 500 of the studioâs films. Prices per play are less than $1, as studios look to compete with Chinaâs rampant disc piracy (via the Los Angeles Times). More on Youku and the Chinese market for streaming video at The Wall Street Journal.
In other Chinese movie market news, 3D technology developer RealD has signed an agreement with Beijing SAGA Luxury Cinema Management, a high-end cinema start-up, to outfit current and planned SAGA theaters with 3D projection equipment. SAGA says it currently has eight cinemas in operation or under construction; the RealD agreement envisions 3D screens in 100 auditoriums across SAGAâs circuit. RealD already has a deal with Wanda Cinemas, Chinaâs largest cinema chain, to install 3D projection technology on up to 500 screens.
Netflix is close to securing exclusive streaming rights to films from DreamWorks Animation SKG, in a deal that would spell the early termination of a pay-TV pact between the studio and Time Warnerâs HBO, Bloomberg reports.
A new agreement certainly would be high-profile for Netflix; the studioâs films include the âShrekâ and âKung Fu Pandaâ franchises. But one analyst notes that with the DWA-HBO agreement running through 2014, âAny earlier deal would clearly need HBOâs consent, which it would obviously not provide unless there was a financial benefitâ (via The Hollywood Reporter).
If the Netflix deal was the result of HBO offering the studio an early-exit option, says Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible, it would âbeg the question of whether Netflix won a DWA deal or was the buyer of last resort.â
Speaking at a conference last week, DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg didnât hint at changes to the studioâs streaming distribution. But the executive did sound off on everything from the quality of theatrical films to 3D television and studiosâ forthcoming UltraViolet digital rights initiative. See BTIG Research (registration required) for a link to Katzenbergâs comments.
With 3D screenings accounting for less than half of the opening-weekend revenue for DreamWorks Animationâs âKung Fu Panda 2,â some financial analysts fear that consumers have begun to tire of 3D filmsâ premium ticket prices (via The New York Times). The performance of âKung Fu Pandaâ â relatively soft compared to previous 3D movie openings â follows analyst disappointment in 3D receipts for Disneyâs âPirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tidesâ earlier this month. Other analysts, however, continue to believe in 3D filmsâ general consumer appeal, attributing any underperformance of a given title to other factors (via Home Media Magazine).
In a tie-in deal between Walmart and Universal Pictures, some 3,000 Walmart stores are marketing 100 exclusive licensed products based on the studioâs Easter Bunny-themed film, âHop.â While the retail campaign serves to promote the film, which debuts in theaters April 1, the range of value-priced âHopâ products focuses on items such as candy, toys, and apparel.
The campaign marks another evolutionary step in the merchandising relationship between Walmart, historically the top seller of DVDs in the U.S., and major studios. The âHopâ tie-in follows a similar program that Walmart unveiled with DreamWorks Animation ahead of that studioâs theatrical release of âHow to Train Your Dragonâ one year ago.
Announcing a new slate of 3D electronics today, Samsung Electronics said that it would be the exclusive distributor this fall of the 3D Blu-ray version of DreamWorks Animatonâs âHow To Train Your Dragon.â The disc will be featured in Samsungâs 3D starter kit, which also includes two pairs of Samsung 3D glasses for at-home viewing.
Samsungâs current 3D starter kit includes a Blu-ray 3D copy of the studioâs âMonsters Vs. Aliens.â Other 3D discs slated for distribution by the electronics company include IMAXâs original productions âInto the Deepâ and âGalapagos,â and Giant Screen Filmsâ âMummies: Secrets of the Pharoahs.â
Among the new 3D hardware is a portable Blu-ray 3D player and three standalone Blu-ray 3D decks, as well as four 3D LED and Plasma TVs.
Speaking yesterday at an investor conference in Chicago, DreamWorks Animation CFO Lew Coleman acknowledged that his studio would probably have done âsome things slightly differentâ if it had another chance to market âShrek Forever Afterâ (via Home Media Magazine). Though the film has topped $200 million in domestic box office gross, analysts and investors were expecting more â and some have pointed to a subpar 3D conversion of the âShrekâ franchise. âI think you have to make a compelling case to have a 3D movie in 3D, like âAvatarâ and [DreamWorksâ own] âHow To Train Your Dragon,ââ Coleman said. âI donât think we made that case for âShrek.ââ
Reuters reports (via Yahoo)Â that âShrek Forever Afterâ has made more than $213 million in the U.S. and Canada since it opened on May 21. But thatâs only three-quarters of the $285 million the last âShrekâ film earned over the same number of days in 2007 â without 3D. Indeed, higher prices for 3D tickets factor heavily into the revenue figures for the fourth âShrekâ installment: Coleman said that 3D accounts for 65% of the domestic gross, year-to-date, for âHow to Train Your Dragonâ and âShrek Forever Afterâ combined.
Federal regulators are disrupting a major promotional tie-in between McDonaldâs and DreamWorks Animation for the studioâs âShrek Forever After,â over concerns that the restaurant chainâs Shrek-inspired premiums pose health risks to children.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today announced a voluntary recall of drinking glasses that McDonaldâs restaurants began selling last month, as part of the chainâs âShrekâ promotion.
The CPSC cited a potential risk of cadmium exposure, which can cause âadverse health effects,â from the designs on some 12 million âShrekâ glasses that McDonaldâs either sold or had in stock.
The agency says it was made aware of the issue through the office of Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who represents the California district that includes San Francisco. Earlier this year, Speier sponsored a House bill that would ban cadmium and other toxic metals from childrenâs jewelry.
âAlthough McDonaldâs did the right thing by recalling these products, we need stronger testing standards to ensure that all childrenâs products are proven safe before they hit the shelves,â Speier said in a statement.
The Congresswoman is proposing that the CPSC temporarily extend to all childrenâs products the cadmium standard that the agency already has in place for childrenâs toys.
The McDonald’s glassware recall follows several voluntary recalls issued by retailers this year forÂ childrenâs jewelry containing cadmium, at the behest of the agency.
McDonaldâs stresses on itsÂ website that the âShrekâ glasses were compliant with both federal and state requirements at the time of their manufacture. The chain says it is taking the âprecautionary measureâ of a voluntary recall âin light of the CPSCâs evolving assessment of standards for consumer products.â Â Consumer Product Safety Commission
Amazon looks to raise awareness on 3D televisions, Blu-ray disc players, and other consumer electronics with an online customer education center, at www.amazon.com/3d. The site also runs promotions such as a free 3D starter kit from Samsung â including a copy of DreamWorks Animationâs âMonsters vs. Aliensâ and two pairs of 3D glasses, when customers purchase a qualifying Samsung 3D HDTV and a Samsung 3D Blu-ray disc player. Via Business Wire
Entertainment merchandising continues to evolve at Wal-Mart, with the retailer having struck an exclusive deal with DreamWorks Animation for toys, apparel, and other licensed products based on the studioâs âHow To Train Your Dragon.â
Wal-Mart is selling âDragonâ-themed products from brands such as Kraft, Kellogg, Pepsi, and Spin Master in specially-designated areas of some 2,500 stores in the run-up to the filmâs theatrical release March 26. The program was more than a year in the making, Wal-Mart says, with the retailer taking on a greater role in product development.
The agreement with DreamWorks Animation does not give Wal-Mart an exclusive on the âDragonâ DVD or Blu-ray, according to The Wall Street Journal. But the partnership builds on previous deals with bands such as AC/DC and Kiss, as well as videogame publishers Electronic Arts and MTV Games, which saw Wal-Mart devote store-within-a-store spaces to market packaged entertainment products alongside limited-edition themed goods such as t-shirts, razors and snacks.
Exclusive packaged entertainment SKUs are nothing new to big-box retailers, who began cutting such deals with studios and managers of high-profile talent long before DVD reached its sales zenith. But at a time when a new-release DVD, CD, or videogame is no longer guaranteed to bring shoppers into stores, the entertainment properties most likely to secure floor space at retail are those that carry with them a sales hook for other consumer product categories.
To this end, a Wal-Mart divisional merchandise manager recently met with music and movie executives to discuss potential deals for 2012, according to the Journal.
The three companies are joining forces to accelerate the worldwide deployment of in-home 3D to consumers. The solution includes a broad line-up of 3D-capable HDTVs from Samsung, its new 3D Blu-ray disc player, and an exclusive promotion that includes a first-time feature-length, 3D Blu-ray version of DreamWorks Animationâs 2009 release, âMonsters vs. Aliens.â Technicolor will handle production duties for the 3D Blu-ray release. Samsung will provide customers several additional 3D selections, including a short entitled “Bob’s Big Break” as well as trailers for 2010 DreamWorks Animation feature film releases “How to Train your Dragon” and “Shrek Forever After,” on Samsung brand HDTVs via the companyâs Internet@TV feature. Via Samsung
The studio tells analysts that it recorded 10% year-over-year growth in home entertainment sales over the Thanksgiving holiday, with premium titles and Blu-ray Discs accounting for just less than 50% of the sales. By Home Media Magazine
THQ and DreamWorks Animation have struck a multi-year licensing agreement that gives the video game maker the exclusive worldwide rights to develop games based on upcoming animated films âKung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doomâ and âPuss In Boots,â as well as CG animated TV show âThe Penguins of Madagascar.â By The Hollywood Reporter
DreamWorks Animation SKG has named, Kelley Avery, former president of Paramount Home Entertainment, to the newly created position of worldwide head of franchise strategy and distribution. The move marks a return of sorts by Avery to DreamWorks, where she once headed home entertainment for the studioâs non-animation unit. By Home Media Magazine