THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
Call it "the panda effect": Thanks to Kung Fu Panda 2's $663 million in worldwide box office receipts -- the highest-grossing animated film of the year (and fourth film overall) -- Daly is riding high. Further boosting her mood is the robust business of Puss in Boots, which has amassed $198 million worldwide since its Oct. 28 opening. "Even in a tough operating environment, we are really proud of Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots," says Daly, 55. "We will continue to build these properties as character franchises."
Daly is responsible for DWA's day-to-day operations, and her ability to steer the company toward success stems from her years in the business, which began in 1983, when the UCLA grad joined the home entertainment division of the Walt Disney Co. "Through my experience at Disney, I started to appreciate and understand animation filmmaking as an art form," she says.
Her passion for animation grew when, in 1997, Jeffrey Katzenberg asked her to head the feature animation department of DreamWorks Animation, then in its infancy. In October 2004, she assumed her current post where she is also charged with fostering a creative environment at DWA's verdant campus-like Glendale headquarters. "The campus, in a crazy way, facilitates conversations and helps the creative collaborations," Daly says. "You hang out at breakfast, you hang out at lunch, people can sit in an environment where it's not completely office-y."
Daly, who is married, has high hopes for the third installment of the Madagascar franchise, coming out in June. She's also excited about DWA's recent acquisition of the best-selling kids book series Captain Underpants ("We were just so thrilled to make that deal," she says) and has been keeping busy flying to Australia -- actually a treat for the travel-loving exec -- to monitor the progress of one of DreamWorks Animation's latest ventures, a live arena show based on last year's hit How to Train Your Dragon. The production, created and produced by Aussie company Global Creatures (Walking With Dinosaurs), premieres Down Under in March before going on a worldwide tour. Says Daly: "The animatronic dragons they are creating are just spectacular."
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