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DreamWorks Enhances Animation Production With $1.5 Billion In New Financing

According to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, DreamWorks is in the process of enhancing its animation production capabilities and hopes these enhancements will cut the production time for CG animated features in half. This would allow DreamWorks to release two to three animated features per year. DreamWorks just closed two major financing transactions totaling $1.5 billion. The new financing consists of a $1 billion film securitization, which DreamWorks is labeling the first of its kind in the film industry, as well as a $500 million revolving credit facility. The securitization uses a unique structure that finances expected film revenue cash receipts from DreamWorks' library of existing films, as well as from future live-action releases. No word on how this additional financing will affect the animation division explicitly, but DreamWorks mentioned that they have already cut production time to 18 months by implementing open-source Linux technology. The studio began experimenting with Linux during the production of SHREK and at the beginning of 2002 entered into a technology strategic alliance with Hewlett-Packard, after HP's graphics labs developed enhancements to Linux software to help power DreamWorks' proprietary animation software, ToonShooter, which was used in the production of SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON. DreamWorks currently produces animated features at its Northern California PDI/DreamWorks studio (where ANTZ and SHREK were made) and the new facility based in the studio's Glendale location (SHARKSLAYER, scheduled for a holiday 2004 release, is the first CG feature to come out of the Glendale facility). In addition, DreamWorks has a production deal with Aardman Animation (DreamWorks co-produced Aardman's 2000 hit CHICKEN RUN), based in Bristol, UK, and has two upcoming Aardman films on its slate. DreamWorks head of animation Ann Daly told HR: "I think the market can support at least two (DreamWorks) animated films a year. Certainly in terms of home video, families see more than two animated films a year -- and as SHREK has proven, adults also enjoy animated films that look great and have a strong premise." The new financing will certainly help DreamWorks to continue as a leader in a crowded field. In addition to Disney and Warner Bros., Sony Pictures recently announced a feature animation division, and Universal, Fox and Miramax, among others, all have feature animation projects in the works.

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