DreamWorks Animation Names Warner Bros’ Chris DeFaria as President

Warner Animation Group veteran replaces longtime leader Jeffrey Katzenberg

Last Updated: January 10, 2017 @ 9:50 PM

DreamWorks Animation has appointed Warner Animation Group’s Chris DeFaria its president.

The executive will replace DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg in the leadership role, who stepped down from the position after DWA was acquired by NBCUniversal in April for $3.8 billion.

“He has excellent creative instincts, a strong business sense, deep relationships and most importantly, a proven ability to harness technology to push the boundaries of animation and innovative, hybrid filmmaking,” said Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley of the hire.

DeFaria will work closely with Universal Pictures President Jimmy Horowitz, and supervise DreamWorks Feature Animation President Bonnie Arnold.

Illumination’s Chris Meledandri, who has been working closely with Langley and the Universal team since the studio acquired DWA, will continue to act as Senior Advisor to DWA. 

Well-liked DeFaria departs the Warner lot amicably, according to an individual familiar with the transition. WAG will now be anchored by longtime creative exec Courtenay Valenti, with DeFaria’s replacement to be named by new Warner Bros. President Toby Emmerich.

Under DeFaria’s leadership, Warner Animation Group released hits like the dancing penguin comedy “Happy Feet” and a lucrative franchise built around Lego toys, which next sees the release of Will Arnett’s “The Lego Batman Movie.”

DeFaria also served as head of tech innovation at the studio, making him executive producer for two Oscar-winning WB films: “Gravity” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Katzenberg will remain involved at DreamWorks Animation as the head of the studio’s new media division. DreamWorks Animation’s first feature film since the Comcast sale, “Trolls,” grossed $336 million against a $125M budget. DWA’s next film, “Boss Baby,” is slated for a Mar. 31 release.