DreamWorks cuts jobs, films

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DreamWorks Animation will cut about 500 jobs, more than a fifth of its workforce, and produce one fewer movie a year as part of a major restructuring after a string of box-office misses.

DreamWorks, which held unsuccessful buyout talks twice last year, said it plans to produce two feature films a year, down from three, and close its Northern California studio.

"We believe that our efforts to make three films each and every year were just too ambitious and have led to inconsistent performance," chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said. "I intend to refocus more of my time and effort in support of our movie-making enterprise."

The maker of the Shrek and Kung Fu Panda franchises has reported losses in two of the last four quarters, as movies such as 2012's Rise Of The Guardians fell shy of expectations.

The studio said it will release just one feature film this year: Home.

"Even with a smaller slate, if all goes according to their expectations, we should see significantly higher profitability," Research Associates LLC analyst Marla Backer said.

DreamWorks has faced increasing competition for family audiences as other studios have turned out hit animated films, such as the Despicable Me franchise from Universal Pictures and The Lego Movie (2014) from Warner Bros.

Three of the six movies DreamWorks plans to release over 2016 to 2018 are sequels, which require less advertisement costs and almost guarantee strong ticket sales.

DreamWorks has worked to diversify its business in recent years, making a deal to supply more than 300 hours of programming for Netflix and purchasing YouTube network AwesomenessTV.

The company, which had about 2,200 employees as of 2013, said the 500 job cuts will span all divisions of the studio. Vice-chairman Lewis Coleman and chief operating officer Mark Zoradi will leave, the company said.

The quarter will also include a US$55-million (S$74-million) impairment charge, related mainly to weaker-than-expected collections for last year's Penguins Of Madagascar and Mr Peabody And Sherman.

 
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