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Universal Studios' owner, Comcast, is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation. The deal would be worth $3 billion and give DreamWorks Animation a stable home after several years of being shopped on the market.
DreamWorks Animation, which is run by former Disney Studios Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, offers a deep line-up of successful franchises, some of which have appeared already in Universal theme parks. DreamWorks Animation was spun off from DreamWorks SKG into a separate company in 2004.
The theme park rights to DreamWorks Animation franchises are split among multiple theme park companies around the world. Universal owns the rights to Shrek at all of its parks - in the United States, Japan and Singapore. Universal also owns the rights to Madagascar in Singapore, although those rights belonged to SeaWorld in the United States up until last year. DreamWorks Animation will have an entire section in the new Motiongate Dubai theme park opening this October in the United Arab Emirates. In addition, you can find DreamWorks Animation attractions at DreamWorld in Australia and Beto Carrero World in Brazil.
After Shrek, DreamWorks Animation's top-grossing franchises are Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon, any of which could pair well with Universal's Despicable Me should Universal wish to expand the presence of animation franchises in its U.S. parks — provided, of course, that DreamWorks Animation's existing license deals would allow Universal to proceed with developing those attractions. (Ask Disney fans pining for Marvel attractions at Disney World about that.) In addition, DreamWorks Animation now owns the licensing rights to several other franchises, including Jay Ward's Rocky and Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right characters that appear at Universal Orlando, as well as Underdog, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials.
Throw in the Nintendo rights that Universal recently acquired, and if Comcast completes this deal, Universal could have a wealth of intellectual property to fill that third theme park it now has the land to develop in Orlando.Tweet
Madagascar in Singapore is a non screen boat ride filled with AA's so it's not sure if the new rides will be screen based. It all depends on the story they want to tell.
When combined with the recent news about Disney's cost cutting moves within the company's structure, I feel it's only a matter of time before Disney wakes up one morning and wonders what the heck just happened? But that's how it's going.
As for people having issues with screens in park attractions, I can agree with you to a certain extent. Parks already have extremely limited space to build their attractions. As a guest you don't want to stand in hour lines just to ride a 2 minute ride. So to give guest more bang for their buck, they implement screen technology to extend the ride experience. Transformers for example is a 3 level building, basement which holds the maintenance areas and elevator mechanisms, 2nd floor holding mostly a queue and a small amount of ride track, and the 3rd level hosting the entire track and theming. This attraction utilizes every square inch, utilizing giant screens, props, and special effects to draw us into the action. I bet most people don't know that you are brought up a high speed elevator to a second level.
Screen based rides are the future, it's up to the park operator to add the right amount of real life theming and props to tell the story.
Hollywood studios is their best park in terms of attractions, but it isn't a whole day park. Disney is catered towards children, and that's a good thing for them. However, Universal caters to everyone and I think that's where they are going to come out on top in the years to come.
The good thing for Universal's theme parks is there no more hindrance of putting in beloved animated characters into its parks. DreamWorks does have a good supply of theme park ready properties. The only thing holding them back is the lack of sequels to fuel them. Shrek is overdue for another sequel. Not so sure if anyone cares for Madagascar for its most recent sequel (Penguins of Madagascar) has underperformed by 50% than Madagascar 3.
Like Disney, Universal should acquire than merely licensing IP. That's the best way forward. Disney reached a creative rut and can no longer produce it's own animated movies so it bought out Pixar. Universal can buy its creativity too.
And DreamWorks has a great supply of popular IP, but has always been pretty mediocre at leveraging it. Comcast won't have that problem.
What is with this ridiculous, untrue comments! Clearly from someone who hasn't visited the park recently, nor with their eyes open.
Very little of the original theme of Islands of Adventure was ripped out and none of the attractions were. Dueling Dragons got a new theme. The Lost Continent still exists today.
But even more ridiculous is the fact that nothing in Universal's Islands of Adventure looks dilapidated! Ever since the addition of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the entire park has been undergoing regular refurbishments and looks fantastic!
Every year Disney looks to be further and further out of touch with their constituency!
As for AAs, all the AAs in Diagon Alley are exactly the same. Disney has the greatest quality and variety of AAs by far.
And I don't agree that screen-based rides are "the future." They are part of the present, but technology can also help create better AAs, more realistic environments, sets which interact with the ride vehicle, etc. Tech is not all about screens.
Maybe those rumors of Katzenberg being groomed by Disney are true, much to my chagrin. To all the folks who think Iger is doing a lousy job of running the parks, trust me, you do not want ole Jeff behind the wheel.
Don't worry,You haven't betrayed Disney. I visit Universal just as often as I do Disney and Disney is still my favorite of the two. :)
But yeah, I think this is a smart move by Universal. The biggest reason why (in my opinion) Disney has always been better is because they appeal to people of all ages, while Universal has mostly been geared towards teens and young adults. I love Spider-Man and Mummy as much as the next guy, but we often forget that there's a lot of people out there who physically can't or simply don't want to go on rides like those, and not all of them are kids.
Disney has given us a couple of really great thrill rides (Test Track, TOT) as well as a ton of great family-friendly rides (POTC, Haunted Mansion). Universal has given us a lot of amazing thrill rides, but they don't really have that many family-friendly rides. And, while some of their attempts have been good, most of them were really terrible. So Universal really needs this.
Also, I am one of the people who thinks that Universal needs to focus less on screen-based rides, but I think How To Train Your Dragon really needs to be turned into one. Those flying scenes are really impressive and I'd love to experience them for myself!
DreamWorks Animation is clearly struggling to make ends meet. Universal is probably the best answer.
Another IP that hasn't been mentioned is DinoTrux. That IP is off the charts with little boys, even though it is all on NetFlix. I have friends whose kids are way into DinoTrux and haven't seen a single episode.
That rebuild, their new property, a (private for profit?) light rail system right through I-drive connecting through the convention center, and a few billion dollars could make them the king of the Orlando parks over the next 10 years. Disney's long term fight to keep everybody locked to their parks could be their downfall.
I agree with the previous anonymous post that this is also about merchandising appeal as well. After all why is there cars land but nothing based on the incredibles yet?
Besides look at the other possible potential targets for Comcast:
Sony Pictures animation (Smurfs, Hotel Transylvania, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs) one of few bright spots for Sony pictures recently. They would be very reluctant to part with that.
Blue Sky Studios (Rio, Ice Age) owned by Fox which is part of News Corp. Not happening.
Time Warner perhaps? (D.C.comics & Looney tunes) Comcast had to abandon a recent bid for Time Warner cable due to anti trust concerns. Buying Time Warner would even be more difficult. Mind you if they had succeeded buying the cable divsion,buying the rest would have been almost inevitable.
Finally even the DreamWorks animated films that disappointed at the box office(turbo, over the hedge, etc) would translate well into theme park attractions so no I don't think that Comcast overpaid.
Aside from their franchises, Dreamworks has had several flops in recent years. And Universal already owns the theme park rights to Shrek -- and they never did that much with it. Basically, they just paid nearly $4 billion for Kung Fu Panda and a bunch of animators. For that money, they could put together 20 animation studios.
And no, they're not going to spend $100 million to create a ride based on a movie that flopped and that no one remembers.
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I have the feeling we're going to see lots more 3D/4D attractions. Unfortunately.