DreamWorks Studios is a motion picture company formed by partners Steven Spielberg and The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. The studio currently has a worldwide distribution deal with The Walt Disney Studios, which markets and distributes their films.
DreamWorks Studios was originally founded in 1994 by Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. One of the studio’s first forays into the entertainment marketplace was the long-running sitcom “Spin City.” Under the direction of Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald (1994-2005), the co-heads of the motion picture division, DreamWorks released its first feature film in September 1997—the action thriller "The Peacemaker," starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman. This was followed by Spielberg's first film for the studio, "Amistad," which was nominated for four Academy Awards™, including Anthony Hopkins for Best Supporting Actor. Spielberg also received his eighth Directors Guild of America (DGA) nomination for “Amistad.”
In 1998, DreamWorks released Spielberg’s critically acclaimed World War II drama, “Saving Private Ryan,” as well as its first two animated features, “Antz” and “The Prince of Egypt.” “Saving Private Ryan,” which was a co-production with Paramount, was the highest grossing release (domestically) of the year, and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, of which it won five, including Best Director for Spielberg. He was also honored with the DGA’s award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film.
In 1999, DreamWorks released the Academy Award winning “American Beauty,” starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening and directed by first-time director Sam Mendes. The following year, the studio released “Gladiator” (a co-production with Universal Studios), which won that year’s Oscar for Best Picture, “Almost Famous” (a co-production with Sony), “Meet the Parents” (a co-production with Universal), “The Contender” and “Castaway” (a co-production with 20th Century Fox). At the box office, DreamWorks’ releases in 2000 totaled over $2 billion worldwide.
In 2001, DreamWorks and Universal Pictures produced the Academy-Award winning film, “A Beautiful Mind.” That same year, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks partnered to executive produce the landmark HBO miniseries, “Band of Brothers.” DreamWorks’ other releases for 2001 included the debut of everyone’s favorite ogre, “Shrek,” and Spielberg’s “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” (a co-production with Warner Bros.). “Shrek,” which featured the voice talents of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, and Eddie Murphy, won the first ever Best Animated Feature Film Oscar®.
In 2002, the studio released “Minority Report,” a co-production with 20th Century Fox, starring Tom Cruise and directed by Spielberg, “Road to Perdition,” starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, and Daniel Craig and directed by Sam Mendes, “The Ring,” a remake of the Japanese horror film “Ringu,” and Spielberg’s second film of 2002, “Catch Me If You Can,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. Over the next few years, the studio continued to produce a slate of successful films including 2003’s “Old School,” “House of Sand and Fog,” and “Seabiscuit” (a co-production with Universal,” as well as 2004’s “Anchorman” “Collateral,” and popular sequels like “Meet the Fockers” and “Shrek 2.”
In the Fall of 2004, the animation division of the studio was spun-off into a publicly traded company named DreamWorks Animation (DWA). DreamWorks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg moved with DWA becoming its CEO. Now a separate company, DWA solely produces animated feature films and television programs.
With Katzenberg overseeing the new DWA, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg focused on the live-action arm of DreamWorks Studios. In 2005, Spielberg released two films—the successful remake of the H.G. Wells classic “War of the Worlds,” starring Tom Cruise, and the historical drama, “Munich,” starring Eric Bana.
In January 2006, the company was sold to the Viacom owned studio, Paramount Pictures. DreamWorks had developed and produced “Dreamgirls,” as well as the Clint Eastwood-directed World War II films “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima” (both co-productions with Warner Bros.), which Paramount distributed within the first year of acquiring the studio. “Dreamgirls” earned eight Oscar® nominations, including a win for Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Hudson, “Flags of Our Fathers” earned two nominations, and “Letters From Iwo Jima” collected four, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. A few months after Paramount’s purchase of DreamWorks, Stacey Snider joined the team of Geffen and Spielberg. Snider had been Chairman at Universal Studios where she experienced remarkable success with a consistent output of films that were both domestic and international box-office hits, while garnering wide critical praise.
Snider’s arrival as DreamWorks’ CEO and Co-Chair began a notable run for the new company. Its first four releases of 2007 all debuted in the #1 spot at the box office and each earned over $100 million worldwide. The four films included the Eddie Murphy comedy “Norbit,” “Blades of Glory” starring Will Ferrell, “Disturbia,” starring Shia LaBeouf, and the Michael Bay directed “Transformers,” which alone grossed over $700 million worldwide. The studio finished out the year with the critically acclaimed films “The Kite Runner,” based on the beloved novel by Khaled Hosseini, and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton. “Sweeney Todd” won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy and Depp won for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, as well as earning an Oscar® nomination for Best Actor for playing the titular role.
The following year, DreamWorks released the comedy “Tropic Thunder,” directed by and starring Ben Stiller, along with Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Nick Nolte, and an unforgettable cameo with Tom Cruise. Robert Downey, Jr.’s bravura portrayal as an Australian actor playing an African American in the Vietnam movie-within-a-movie, earned him accolades across the board including Best Supporting Actor nominations for the Academy Awards™, the Broadcast Film Critics, the Golden Globes, and the Screen Actors Guild. 2008 was capped off with director Sam Mendes’ third film for DreamWorks, “Revolutionary Road.” Based on the 1961 novel by Richard Yates, the film reunited Kate Winslet and Leonard DiCaprio on the screen for the first time since “Titanic.” “Revolutionary Road” was a critic favorite and Winslet won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for her role as April Wheeler.
At the end of 2008, Geffen departed the company, while Spielberg and Snider charted a path for their new partnership. With Geffen’s assistance, the two found a financial partner in Anil Ambani, chairman of The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. After a year of deal making, DreamWorks secured $325 million from Reliance, which was matched by a consortium of investment banks.
In 2009, Paramount released the remainder of the films produced by DreamWorks. Those releases included the Paul Rudd and Jason Segal starrer “I Love You, Man,” the blockbuster “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” the box office phenomenon “Paranormal Activity,” the critically acclaimed “Up in the Air” starring George Clooney and directed by Jason Reitman, and the Peter Jackson directed film adaptation of Alice Sebold’s best-seller “The Lovely Bones” and the romantic comedy “She’s Out Of My League.”
The debut of DreamWorks Television’s show, “The United States of Tara,” came in January 2009. Starring Toni Collette and John Corbett, the Showtime series was created by Academy Award™ winner Diablo Cody and is based on an idea by Steven Spielberg, who was also an executive producer. Collette won both the Emmy and Golden Globe for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy for her role as a mother struggling with multiple personalities (dissociative identity disorder (DID)).
In 2010, Spielberg and Tom Hanks re-teamed for DreamWorks’ next television project, “The Pacific.” An unofficial companion piece to their “Band of Brothers,” “The Pacific” follows the United States Marine Corps' actions in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. The 10-part DreamWorks Television and Playtone series debuted on HBO on March 14, 2010 and went on to win an Emmy for Best Miniseries.
The first films released under the new partnership with Reliance included 2010’s “Dinner For Schmucks,” (a co-production with Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment), starring Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, and directed by Jay Roach. Releases in 2011 included “I Am Number Four,” “Cowboys & Aliens” (a co-production with Universal), starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, “Fright Night,” and “Real Steel,” starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Shawn Levy. Also released in 2011 was Steven Spielberg’s "War Horse," based on Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning book and was nominated for six Academy Awards® including Best Picture, and "The Help," which resonated with audiences around the country and earned over $200 million at the box office and received four Academy Award® nominations with Octavia Spencer winning for Best Supporting Actress.
In 2012, the studio released “People Like Us” and Spielberg's "Lincoln," starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones. The film grossed over $250 million at the worldwide box office and was nominated for twelve Academy Awards® with Daniel Day-Lewis winning for Best Actor.
Releases for 2013 included the Wikileaks drama “The Fifth Estate,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, as well as Daniel Brühl, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, Dan Stevens, Alicia Vikander and Carice van Houten and the comedy “Delivery Man,” starring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders.
For 2014, the studio had the car racing actioner “Need For Speed” based on the popular EA video game series and starring Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots and Michael Keaton, as well as the drama "The Hundred-Foot Journey" starring Helen Mirren and directed by Lasse Hallstrom. In September of 2014 DreamWorks Studios announced that Michael Wright would be joining the company as Chief Executive Officer. As CEO, Wright oversees the creative and financial aspects of all film development and production. Prior to joining DreamWorks, Wright was president, head of programming for TBS, TNT, and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). He was responsible for all original programming for the networks, including original content for their digital extensions. He also oversaw program scheduling for TBS and TNT.
Upcoming films include “Bridge of Spies” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks. The Cold War spy thriller will open in U.S. theaters on October 16, 2015. Spielberg is also directing “The BFG” based on Roald Dahl's classic novel which will be released in July of 2016.