DreamWorks Animation Focused on Finding Distribution Partner

UPDATED: CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg says that self-distribution is "not something that we are pursuing" right now and that a possible DWA channel is part of the distribution talks.

DreamWorks Animation is focusing on finding a studio distribution partner over self-distributing its movies in the future, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said on the studio's earnings conference call Tuesday.

And he said that some of the distribution talks have involved discussions about a potential branded DWA channel.

DWA's current distribution deal with Viacom's Paramount Pictures  expires at the end of the year, and the firm continues to explore its options.

"Right now, our expectation is that our distribution will be handled by a major," he said. "We will not be handling that independently."

The company previously said it was eyeing self-distribution arrangements. But right now, "that is not something that we are pursuing," Katzenberg said.

Asked by an analyst if the agreement to acquire Classic Media affected the focus, he said: "We would have the [financial capacity] to do it…Classic Media did not take that option off the table for us."

Early in the call, Katzenberg had said that discussions about a distribution deal were ongoing with "multiple studios." He didn't mention names of possible studio partners. Sony Pictures and Fox have been mentioned as possible suitors.

He said he had no plans to discuss the issue further on the call, but reiterated the plan was to share more details about any decision by Labor Day.

Katzenberg did, however, later in the call say that his company continues to be "in aggressive exploration" of a possible branded DWA family channel, which could be a cable or digital channel "with both domestic and international reach." That has also been part of conversations with potential distribution partners, he said.  

"The brand has really begun to come into its own and has real value," Katzenberg explained the reason for exploring a network.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai