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After a shaky start, “How to Train Your Dragon” has earned enough boxoffice coin to ensure that it becomes a multimedia franchise, with the next movie headed for screens in the second half of 2013, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said Tuesday.
Plus, there’s a live arena show in the works, something akin to “Walking With Dinosaurs” that plays in venues like the Staples Center in Los Angeles and Allstate Arena in Chicago.
There’s also a TV series in development and an online virtual world based on “Dragon.”
“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” Katzenberg told analysts about “Dragon” during a conference call to discuss quarterly earnings.
“Dragon” is at $180 million domestic and on track to equal the boxoffice performance of “Kung Fu Panda,” which took in $215 million domestically and is getting a somewhat similar franchise treatment.
“Panda,” though, boasted a $60 million opening weekend compared to just $44 million for “Dragon,” which cast doubt on a sequel. “It certainly had us a bit nervous,” Katzenberg said.
Katzenberg said “Dragon” has such impressive legs at the boxoffice because it is DWA’s best-reviewed film. It is in the “beloved category,” he noted.
The CEO also talked up “Megamind,” saying the Nov. 5 release starring Brad Pitt, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell will do for the superhero genre what “Shrek” did for fairy tales.
He said “Scared Shrekless” is set as a Halloween special this year, and an unnamed “Panda” holiday special will run between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But don’t call it a “Christmas” special.
“They don’t have Christmas in China,” Katzenberg quipped.
DWA posted $21.7 million in net income in the first quarter, down 65% because the studio lacked a big home video release in the quarter. Revenue fell 39% to $162.1 million.
“Dragon” contributed $59.7 million in revenue during the quarter, while last year’s “Monsters vs. Aliens” was good for $24.6 million.
The 2008 releases, “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” and “Panda,” contributed $19.2 million and $5.7 million, respectively, while library titles were good for $52.9 million.
The results beat Wall Street expectations, and DWA stock was up fractionally in afterhours trading.
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