NBCUniversal has announced a plan to purchase DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, in a deal expected to close by late 2016. Best known for the Shrek and Kung Fu Panda franchises, DreamWorks Animation has produced 32 feature films in its 22-year history, developing as a rival to the Disney-owned Pixar. The deal does not include DreamWorks Pictures, a separately owned studio specializing in live-action films.
The proposed acquisition is still subject to anti-trust approval. If approved, it would significantly expand the entertainment holdings of Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal and operates the largest cable business in the United States. "DreamWorks will help us grow our film, television, theme parks and consumer products businesses for years to come," said NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke in a statement. "The prospects for our future together are tremendous."
The deal will also mean a significantly reduced role for current DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, a former Walt Disney executive who has overseen the company since its founding in 1994. Katzenberg will transition to a role overseeing the company's television and new media holdings — including the Verizon co-venture AwesomenessTV, which specializes in shortform video for mobile platforms.
Some reports speculated that Katzenberg might leave the company entirely if it was purchased by Comcast. "Having spent the past two decades working together with our team to build DreamWorks Animation into one of the world’s most beloved brands, I am proud to say that NBCUniversal is the perfect home for our company," Katzenberg said in a statement.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal holds a minority ownership stake in Vox Media, parent company of The Verge.
11:41AM ET: A previous version of this story stated that the acquisition would require regulatory approval in addition to anti-trust approval. The Verge regrets the error.