What is DreamWorks?

Jessica Ellis

DreamWorks is a collaborative studio formed by three of the greatest minds in modern Hollywood: Jeffery Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, and David Geffen. Formed in the mid 1990s, the studio has produced films, records and television shows with varying success. DreamWorks Animation has become a major player in the field of animated features, and is often considered the main competition of Pixar, although most critics feel that Pixar remains the superior force.

Steven Spielberg formed DreamWorks with Jeffery Katzenberg and David Geffen.
Steven Spielberg formed DreamWorks with Jeffery Katzenberg and David Geffen.

In 1994, Jeffery Katzenberg left his position at The Walt Disney Company and quickly formed a partnership with Spielberg and long-time collaborator David Geffen. With considerable funds from their own enterprises and an enormous investment from Microsoft, DreamWorks, also called DreamWorks SKG or LLC, was formed. The company had many initial interests in media, including video games and music production. Success quickly became focused on their film capabilities, particularly when the studio won three Best Picture Oscars in a row, for 1999’s American Beauty, 2000’s Gladiator, and 2001’s A Beautiful Mind.

DreamWorks won three Best Picture Oscars in a row during the years 1999, 2000, and 2001.
DreamWorks won three Best Picture Oscars in a row during the years 1999, 2000, and 2001.

Despite the success of their film efforts, many other DreamWorks ventures have not been successful and have been sold from the main company after several unprofitable years. The music production unit was eventually sold to the Universal Music Group before permanently closing in 2005, and the video gaming department was soon acquired by Electronic Arts. The founders have admitted that the company has survived financial troubles repeatedly, after heavy investments turned out to be failures.

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DreamWorks’ biggest box office successes have been animated features.
DreamWorks’ biggest box office successes have been animated features.

One of the most successful ventures the company has undertaken is its film animation department. Despite early box office failures with The Prince of Egypt and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, the company had surprising success with its computer-generated (CGI) animated features. Chicken Run, the company’s first venture into the CGI area, was a sleeper hit, and through the skills of Hollywood writing team Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, Shrek became a box office smash of 2001. In 2008, DreamWorks animation pulled out another hit with the whimsical Kung Fu Panda which many critics consider to be a significant advance in their graphics quality as well as an entertaining film.

Compared the giants of the film industry, DreamWorks is a baby, propelled by the genius of three modern visionaries. For such a young studio, they have proved themselves consistently capable for producing both quality and successful films, despite the occasional miss. Despite its acquisition by Paramount in 2005, the studio continues to operate as an independent production house, and maintains a roster of significant work.

DreamWorks is known for producing family-friendly films.
DreamWorks is known for producing family-friendly films.

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Discussion Comments


I had no idea Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks connection was that he was one of three guys that made it!

They are covering quite a lot of ground by making extremely entertaining animation via movies like "Shrek" to incredibly depth-y movies such as "American Beauty".

I feel like they were the first ones in the industry to make kid's movies that adults could truly enjoy, in fact laugh out loud at!


@strawCake - You're right, DreamWorks and Pixar do have a similar style. In fact, until I read this article for some reason I thought Shrek was a Pixar movie!

Although DreamWorks is pretty famous for their fun, animated movies, they've also put out some serious ones too. I'm not surprised, with Steven Spielberg as one of the head guys!


I think DreamWorks is here to stay, for movies at least. They've put out so many successful movies, and it seems like they just keep getting better!

I do like Pixar for animated movies too, but I think DreamWorks is just as good. Plus, a little healthy competition in an industry never hurt anyone, right? I think having both DreamWorks and Pixar put out the same type of movies is good for consumers-they'll both constantly strive to do better!


I don't know how you can go wrong with a Steven Spielberg movie. I know that many of the animation DreamWorks productions have been very popular, but many of their other movies are very good as well.

Two of my favorites are Meet the Parents followed a few years later by Meet the Fockers. I laughed so hard watching both of these movies that tears were streaming down my face.

I enjoyed Meet the Parents better than the follow up movie, but the storyline was good and the acting was hilarious.


When I think about some of my kids favorite movies and even some old VHS tapes we still have around, they were produced by DreamWorks.

I think DreamWorks Shrek has to be one of their most well known. My kids still like to watch one of the Shrek movies every once in awhile. No matter how many times they have seen them, they still laugh every time.

We also have the movie Chicken Run, but this one didn't get watched nearly as often. I still remember a few funny parts from that movie, but it didn't appeal as much to my kids.

Any movie I have watched that was produced by DreamWorks has a lot of imagination and creativity.


@drtroubles-- Has she seen the Bee Movie? That was also released by DreamWorks and my kids loved it and so did I! It was a really fun, not to mention informative movie. The bees were just so cute! I think your daughter will like that one.

Aside from that, they've actually made a Puss in Boots film just for the Puss in Boots character from Shrek. She should see that one for sure!


@simrin-- If you look at how they've been doing financially though, their animated films and the huge amounts of investments they receive is the only thing that keeps DreamWorks going.

I love Steven Spielberg, I think he is a genius. After all, he made films like Schindler's List and ET. But considering the great minds that started out this production company, don't you think they should have done better than they have been? I also keep reading about investments they keep getting from various places. They've even asked for money from production companies in India. Clearly DreamWorks is not being run well.

Aside from their animated films, they have been producing many flops in the past couple of years bringing them to the verge of bankruptcy. It's sad, but it's true.


I haven't seen Kung Fu Panda 2 by DreamWorks yet but most of my friends have seen it and said that it's really good. I saw Kung Fu Panda the first and that was a lot of fun.

I agree that DreamWorks makes really good animated films, they really are one of the best in this sector. I hope they keep this up!

I love their other film productions as well. If I remember correctly, they also made 'Saving Private Ryan,' 'Gladiator,' and 'Tropic Thunder.' Those were excellent films and I've seen each one several times. So I don't think that it would be fair to say that they are just good at animated films.


Does anyone have any favorite DreamWorks movies that you would recommend for a five-year old?

My daughter really likes cute characters so I want to show her a new movie that she could really get into. So far my daughter has loved Shrek and all of the sequels, mostly because of the appearance of Puss in Boots, and his adorable begging expression. She just loves when his eyes get big.

Another of her favorites by DreamWorks was Kung Fu Panda because of all of the animals. She just really has a thing for cute critters that are funny and relatable.


DreamWorks studios has put out some of the best computer animation I have ever seen. My kids love the movies they release and are always super excited to see a new one come out.

I remember when DreamWorks Madagascar came out and my kids couldn't stop talking about the animals, they really love the idea of the penguin ninjas and a quirky, and funny zebra.

I actually enjoyed the Madagascar film myself as I found that added just enough adult humor to make it enjoyable for the parents in the audience. I always think it's clever how they add stuff that only the adults would get, like a Clockwork Orange reference.

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