DreamWorks Animation Case Study Part 1: Market Pressure

Mellody Hobson

Lesson time 13:26 min

Mellody introduces you to the next case study about her time at DreamWorks Animation. She explains the structure of the company, the role of the board, and the trajectory of the entertainment giant during this critical period.

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Topics include: The Early Days • "Joining the Board 2004" • "A Shifting Landscape: The Movie Industry 2007–2014" • "Evaluating Next Steps 2014–2015"


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I'm excited to talk to you about a case about DreamWorks Animation, which was a specific situation that I was involved in as a board member, and some decisions that we had to make at a crucial time when the industry was under some pressure. Even if you don't own your own company or you're not on the board of a company, sometimes there are a lot of decision trees that really have to do with the environment that you're in, not necessarily the business that you're in. I still remember this launch of DreamWorks. Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg-- they were launching the first modern studio. And the studio was going to have live action movies and music, and then also have animation. And those three disciplines were tied to the expertise of the individuals, of course, Steven Spielberg as being one of the greatest directors of all time, live action, David Geffen being a music industry genius, with Geffen Records and Asylum Records, and then Jeffrey Katzenberg's great background having come from Disney, where he had made hits like "The Lion King." And I remember it just got so much press. And I also remember at the time just a great deal of anticipation about what would they produce, what would they do, and a lot of people waiting in an excited way to see the content that would come out of this new business. - I think there's no question in any of our minds that we will succeed. - So one of the things that often happens with new businesses-- that they have a scope and scale. And they imagine what they can be. And then you're in real life. And you have to make decisions. And sometimes, you realize maybe your scope or scale was too big. And so DreamWorks actually realigned their business at one point. And then DreamWorks Animation became a separate, standalone company. The business ultimately went public in 2004. DreamWorks was known for these very irreverent films. And they often played to both a child and an adult. That was the genius of them. They had these double entendres all the time, where a child would hear one joke and an adult would hear another joke, just based upon their sophistication. They did this brilliantly. And so we did movies like "Shrek." And we did "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Kung Fu Panda," "Madagascar" and "Croods" and "Trolls." Jeffrey always used to say that you'd always hear about something being for the child in you. And he said our movies were for the adult in the child. The one thing about a creative process, be it a movie or portfolio management, is that you have to have a person who has a vision. It's not about how smart you are. It's not about what school you went to. Those things can be helpful. But they don't mean that you will have something that is extraordinary at the end of the day. If I went and found four of the best students at Juilliard and I put them all together in a band, all four of them, I would not necessarily get th...

About the Instructor

Mellody Hobson knows how to make tough calls in trying times. As one of the most influential leaders in business today, she’s led companies through junctions of financial crisis, acquisitions, and restructuring. Become a more dynamic, confident business leader by diving into real-life case studies from Mellody’s career. Get an inside understanding of the pivotal decisions she’s made from the top, and build a strategic decision-making framework for your next step as a business leader.

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Mellody Hobson

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