D'Works bullish on next 'Madagascar'

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Wall Street analysts should push their estimates for "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" about 10% higher now that it won't have to compete with the latest "Harry Potter" film, DreamWorks Animation CFO Lew Coleman said.

"We think it's a big deal," he said Tuesday at the Merrill Lynch Media Fall Preview conference.

Warner Bros. said last month that "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" would move from Nov. 21 to July 17, 2009, a shift that left the second "Madagascar" movie, due Nov. 7, with a lot less competition.

Coleman also said that DWA doesn't intend to enter the straight-to-DVD market any time soon because, at $1 million a minute, it's too expensive.

He said the TV special "Shrek the Halls," even though it will repeat on ABC this Christmas season, also will be a DVD release. Asked if DWA predicts good sales, he said, "It's anybody's guess."

Before Coleman's presentation, Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman said his company will spend $100 million in the next two or three years to expand the Disney brand overseas.

He also noted that the studio has boosted profit margins from 3% to 16% lately through reining in production costs and focusing on Disney-branded movies.

Bergman also predicted that, while production costs will remain stable over the next few years, marketing costs could rise "a little bit." (partialdiff)
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