Jeffrey Katzenberg has good news for fans of Voltron, He-Man, Rocky & Bullwinkle and the dozens of other newly acquired Classic Media characters: DreamWorks Animation has ambitious plans to reinvent just about all of them for TV and/or the bigscreen — similar to what Disney did with Marvel.
“I think that the Classic Media library is for DreamWorks what the Marvel library was for Ike Perlmutter when he bought it for $175 million 15 years ago,” Katzenberg said Wednesday during his keynote Q&A at MIPCOM 2013 in Cannes. (Perlmutter got $800 million in cash and $590 million in Disney stock as a part of the studio’s $4 billion acquisition in 2009.)
And like the Mouse House did with its superheroes, DWA intends to reconstitute its new stable of characters — which it acquired in 2012 — in a big way.
(See Katzenberg talk about the Classic Media plans in video above, starting at 28:55)
“It’s not, ‘What are we going to do with those 6,100 episodes we have’ … although we’ll get value out of those … the real opportunity is to take every one of those franchises and reinvent them. And that’s what we will set out to do.”
Katzenberg also said he firmly believes that short-form content is the future of entertainment distribution — as long as it’s quality content. He’s so hot to try out the idea that he approached the creators of “Breaking Bad” weeks before the finale with a radical pitch: He would bankroll three additional episodes, which Katzenberg then planned to chop up into 6-minute daily downloads.
(See Katzenberg talk about his ‘Breaking Bad’ idea and short-form entertainment in the video above, beginning at 33:50.)
“I said, ‘I will pay you $25 million per episode,'” Katzenberg said. “I want 30 six-minute chapters. … I’m gonna create the greatest pay-per-view television event for scripted that anyone has ever done.”
That didn’t work out — the finale effectively capped the story — but Katzenberg said the distribution model he envisioned is “absolutely” the future of entertainment content.
“It’s gonna happen,” he said. “If I can find an opportunity that lends itself to it — I just think that there is a whole new platform for entertainment that is this short-form.”
The key, he said, is that the content be as good as the best stuff in movies and TV.
“People have thought about it too much as cats on skateboards,” he said.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.