Comcast-owned NBCUniversal is about to get a little more animated as the media giant has announced the acquisition of DreamWorks Animation, thus confirming the recently-surfaced rumors. DreamWorks Animation — the studio behind the likes of Shrek and Kung Fu Panda — is set to become part of NBCUniversal’s Universal Filmed Entertainment Group while UFEG’s Chris Meledandri will oversee operations as the DreamWorks Animation brand remains intact. Said Steve Burke, NBCUniversal CEO:
DreamWorks Animation is a great addition to NBCUniversal. Jeffrey Katzenberg and the DreamWorks organization have created a dynamic film brand and a deep library of intellectual property. DreamWorks will help us grow our film, television, theme parks and consumer products businesses for years to come. We have enjoyed extraordinary success over the last six years in animation with the emergence of Illumination Entertainment and its brilliant team at Illumination Mac Guff studio. The prospects for our future together are tremendous. We are fortunate to have Illumination founder Chris Meledandri to help guide the growth of the DreamWorks Animation business in the future.
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg — who will become chairman of DreamWorks Animation New Media — added:
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; a home that will embrace the legacy of our storytelling and grow our businesses to their fullest potential. This agreement not only delivers significant value for our shareholders, but also supports NBCUniversal’s growing family entertainment business. As for my role, I am incredibly excited to continue exploring the potential of AwesomenessTV, NOVA and other new media opportunities, and can’t wait to get started.
The deal — which should alleviate the problems DreamWorks Animation has faced since it began operating as a publicly-traded studio — is expected to become official before the end of the year and marks Comcast’s biggest acquisition since it purchased NBC from GE back in 2011. Valued at $41 USD per share, DreamWorks Animation’s purchase will ultimately cost $3.8 billion USD (a $4.1 billion USD equity value including debt).
As Variety points out, the deal is on par with the $4 billion USD Disney paid for LucasFilm in 2012 and the $3.96 billion USD it dropped on Marvel in 2009, but pales in comparison to 2006’s $7.6 billion USD deal for Pixar.