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Despite earning well over $200 million worldwide, Mr. Peabody & Sherman was not the hit Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation was hoping for. The studio has announced that it will have to take a $57 million write-down because of the film.
DWA announced its first quarter earnings, reporting a total revenue of $147.2 million, a net loss of $42.9 million or $0.51 per share. During the same period in 2013, the company’s earnings were at $134.6 million, although it reported earnings of $5.3 million.
In a statement released by the studio, Katzenberg admitted that Peabody’s underperformance was another sign that the company cannot put all its efforts in the film business.
“The box office shortfall of Mr. Peabody & Sherman is evidence of the current challenges we face within our feature film segment, and restoring the strength in our core business is my number one priority today,” the studio’s CEO said. “Our next film is How to Train Your Dragon 2 on June 13, 2014, and I am confident that its performance will put us back on-track to once again reach the levels of box office success that we've achieved historically."
Peabody was based on the popular Jay Ward characters created for the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show in the 1950s. The characters belong to the Classic Media library, which DWA purchased for $155 million in 2012. Although the characters were relatively unknown to today’s younger audiences, it grossed $108 million in the U.S., adding $152.7 million in foreign markets. However, the film reportedly cost $145 million to make.
Katzenberg has made efforts to expand DWA’s interests, especially in television. A series based on TURBO launched on Netflix and the company has committed to creating 300 hours of original content for Netflix. DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk also currently airs on Cartoon Network.
Peabody was the latest disappointment for DWA. Turbo and Rise of the Guardians failed to impress audiences, but The Croods and How To Train Your Dragon both did well.