DreamWorks Animation announced Thursday that it will release five feature films every two years, adding an additional film every other year to its existing two picture-a-year release schedule going forward.
The upcoming slate of animated feature film releases through 2012 was also unveiled: there will be eight feature films — five original and three sequels to the "Shrek," "Madagascar" and "Kung Fu Panda" franchises. All will be offered in 3D.
DreamWorks already has three films slated for next year, and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told the Cowen and Co Technology Media and Telecom Conference that he expected to see a 5 to 10 percent improvement in production costs, which average $130 million per film plus $15 million to convert the film to 3D.
Katzenberg said he believes the films can now be produced for $130 million total — including 3D — partially by outsourcing some work to India.
The company is also anticipating changes to its film distribution costs when its distribution contract with Paramount Pictures expires in 2012. Under the terms of that deal, DreamWorks Animation currently pays $50 million in fees per film, Katzenberg said.
Some of the other planned films include "How to Train Your Dragon" (March 2010), based on a book of the same name by Cressida Cowell and voiced by Jonah Hill and America Ferrera; "Oobermind" (November 2010), the tale of a super villian who reinvents himself, with Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey; "The Guardians" (November 2011), about the banding together of the world’s five unlikelist heroes; and "Puss in Boots" (March 2012), with Antonio Banderas in the lead and Salma Hayek as Kitty.
"Our exceptionally talented and highly experienced creative team is bringing to DreamWorks Animation a significant number of imaginative, original and cutting-edge ideas today," Bill Damaschke, Co-President of Production and President of Live Theatrical, said in a statement. "Having achieved a high level of success and consistency in our creative process and having in our development pipeline more great story concepts than ever before, we are very confident in our ability to add one original film every other year."
Shares of DreamWorks were up 4 cents at $27.20 on Nasdaq after the news Thursday.