DreamWorks Animation CEO and co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg will transition out of running the company he founded once Comcast completes its $3.8 billion acquistion.
In announcing their deal Thursday, the companies said Katzenberg will become chairman of DreamWorks New Media, which includes its ownership of Awesomeness TV, a digital video venture aimed at teens, and Nova, a software start-up within the company. Katzenberg will also serve as a consultant to NBCUniversal.
It confirms TheWrap’s reporting Wednesday that Katzenberg was expected to leave the animation studio he founded if the sale to Comcast was successful, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation.
But the deal with Comcast will move the veteran film executive out of a role overseeing motion pictures. NBCUniversal already has an animation unit under Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment, and Meledandri is expected to take on a greater role overseeing both DWA and Illumination projects.
“We are fortunate to have Illumination founder Chris Meledandri to help guide the growth of the DreamWorks Animation business in the future,” Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBCUniversal said in a statement.
The acquisition gives NBCUniversal control of DreamWorks Animation’s film franchise properties like “Shrek,” “Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon.” It comes with DreamWorks Classics, a large library of classic characters.
In a statement, Katzenberg said he was “incredibly excited to continue exploring the potential of AwesomenessTV, NOVA and other new media opportunities.”
Thursday, Comcast and DWA announced a $3.8 billion deal, at $41 a share in cash, that would bring DreamWorks into Comcast’s Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
Katzenberg has attempted to forge a sale of the company several times in past years with other suitors. Comcast’s agreement follows a failed acquisition offer from SoftBank in 2014 and another unsuccessful merger negotiation with Hasbro a couple months later. Katzenberg recently floated Viacom/Paramount as a potential buyer as well, and had previously held talks with several Chinese companies.