Yesterday, we reported that Comcast was said to be in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation, but Dreamworks itself had been keeping silent. We weren’t left to wonder for too long, however, as today the two companies jointly confirmed that Comcast subsidiary NBCUniversal will indeed be acquiring DreamWorks Animation for the sum of $3.8 billion.
The deal will see DreamWorks Animation becoming a part of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which includes Universal Pictures, Fandango, and NBCUniversal Brand Development. The acquisition has already been approved by the boards of directors of both DreamWorks Animation and Comcast, and the former’s controlling shareholder has also approved the deal.
Once the transition is complete, DreamWorks Animation co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg will assume the role of chairman of DreamWorks New Media, which will focus on Awesomeness TV and NOVA. Katzenberg will also function as a consultant to NBCUniversal. DreamWorks Animation will be lead by Chris Meledandri, founder of Illusion Entertainment, which has given Comcast its own successful animated films, including Despicable Me.
“This agreement not only delivers significant value for our shareholders, but also supports NBCUniversal’s growing family entertainment business,” Katzenberg said in a statement. “As for my role, I am incredibly excited to continue exploring the potential of AwesomenessTV, NOVA, and other new media opportunities, and can’t wait to get started.”
As part of the acquisition, NBCUniversal gains several successful film properties, including Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon, as well as DreamWorks’ TV operation, which distributes original animated content via traditional TV and streaming to more than 130 countries, including a lucrative partnership with Netflix. DreamWorks Classics, which is home to such characters as Where’s Waldo and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, will now also fall under the massive NBCUniversal umbrella.
While Comcast’s Universal Studios has shown an interest in animated features with the Despicable Me and Minions franchises, this acquisition isn’t only about animated content. Comcast has been interested in theme parks for some time — it even tried to acquire Disney in 2004, as The Motley Fool points out. Its acquisition of NBCUniversal got the company skin in the game with the global Universal Studios theme parks franchise. With the addition of the DreamWorks Animation and Classics properties, the conglomerate will have a much larger stable of characters to use moving forward.
The deal is set to close by the end of 2016, pending traditional closing conditions and antitrust approvals both in the U.S. and abroad.