Comcast pays $3.8B for DreamWorks Animation, puts 'Minions' mastermind in charge

In a move aimed at further boosting its thriving NBCUniversal film, consumer products and theme parks operations, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) said it will pay around $3.8 billion to acquire DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.

DreamWorks Animation, which was formed out of a partnership between moguls Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen in 1994, will become part of NBCU's Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which includes Universal Pictures, Fandango and NBCUniversal Brand Development."

Chris Meledandri, head of Universal's Illumination Entertainment animation wing, which produced the mega-successful Despicable Me/Minions franchise, will oversee the DreamWorks Animation operation for Comcast. 

Katzenberg will step down as chief executive, but will keep an ownership stake in DreamWorks Animation assets including AwesomenessTV.

Comcast said it expects the deal to close later this year.

Analysts and media pundits are comparing Comcast's move to Disney's $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar a decade ago — an acquisition that not only brought Disney hit film franchises like Toy Story and Cars to its motion picture division, but also allowed it to reap huge rewards through theme park attractions and merchandising based on these widely popular family properties.

With NBCUniversal successfully monetizing Universal Pictures hits such as Minions and Jurassic World recently, Comcast is hoping it can now do more of the same with DreamWorks Animation successes such as Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon.

For its part, DreamWorks isn't vertically integrated, and has suffered a cruel fate on Wall Street every time one of its films hasn't hit its marks at the global box office. Being part of Comcast will certainly limit that exposure.

"DreamWorks will help us grow our film, television, theme parks and consumer products businesses for years to come," said NBCU CEO Steve Burke, in a statement. 

For more:
- read this Comcast press release

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