DreamWorks Animation is launching DreamWorks Press as an internal umbrella for digital and print books. DreamWorks will oversee content and production for titles released through the imprint, while Publishers Group West, part of Perseus, will handle sales and distribution.
Emma Whittard, a publishing veteran with experience at Disney who is heading the press, notes that DreamWorks has repositioned itself over the last few years from a movie studio to a family entertainment company involved in movies, television, and short-form content. “DreamWorks has become well-known as a master storyteller,” she told PW. “And storytelling from publishing is part of that. With this franchise-forward approach, we see publishing as a key driver.”
DreamWorks Press will focus on unique opportunities to expand its properties through publishing, concentrating mostly on new franchises. The studio has a number of original films and sequels scheduled for release in 2014 and beyond, including B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations in 2015.
The new imprint also may produce some titles based on its established franchises – including Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon, and Kung Fu Panda – and, where it has rights, the properties in its DreamWorks Classics portfolio, which it added through its 2012 acquisition of Classic Media.
In the past, DreamWorks has relied on a licensing model for its publishing activities, and it will continue to collaborate on content and formats with current licensees, including Simon & Schuster (which took over from Penguin as master publisher in 2011), Bendon, and Reader’s Digest. “We are absolutely not going to be publishing everything ourselves,” Whittard said. “Where we will get involved is where we feel we can drive the storytelling forward, and where we can work with our movie and TV teams to make sure everything is in synch.”
Examples, she explained, might include a book telling the origin story of a franchise that has not yet been introduced, or one that extends the timeline of a movie. If the imprint publishes a book in-house that is based on one of its established properties where a licensing deal is in place, it would do so in consultation with the licensed publisher, Whittard added.
DreamWorks Press, whose growing staff currently numbers eight, will mostly be based at the Glendale, Calif., studio, with a smaller staff in New York. Shawn Dennis, DreamWorks’ head of franchise, will provide support and the studio’s licensing staff – including New York-based Megan Startz, who handles North American licensed publishing – will work closely with DreamWorks Press’ editorial team, according to Whittard.
International publishing will continue to operate through a licensing model, although DreamWorks is staffing up with publishing managers in key territories to provide more assistance to its licensing agents and publishers around the world. Assets created through DreamWorks Press will be available for use internationally.
The first internally produced list, which is still in development, is expected to release in time for the 2014 holiday season.
This is a revised and updated version of a story that was first published in February 10.