DreamWorks Animation Posts Third-Quarter Losses

Call it the real curse of the were-rabbit! Although Oscar watchers have already put Wallace & Gromit’The Curse of the Were-Rabbit as one of the frontrunners in this year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar race, the folks at DreamWorks Animation are blaming the movie’s less-than-spectacular performance at the domestic box-office as one of the reasons for the company’s $656,000 third-quarter loss.

The Glendale-based animation house’s revenues fell to $87.1 million, down from $241.3 million last year when it was riding high on the the success of the mighty Shrek 2 feature.’ Although Aardman Animation’s charming plasticine stop-motion movie has brought in a very healthy $160 million in ticket sales internationally, apparently its performance Stateside has prompted DreamWorks Animation to take a $3.9 million charge. To date, the film has made $53 million, which was less than initial projections.

Another factor for the loss was a one-time $8 million tax charge and litigation expenses stemming from shareholder lawsuits which alleged the company failed to disclose problems in a timely manner. DreamWorks has denied wrongdoing. Also to blame was the lower-than-expected sales of the Shrek 2 DVD.’ The studio’s share price is down 37% from a high of $41.98 in December 2004.

“We were a bit disappointed that Wallace & Gromit didn’t do better in the domestic marketplace,” DreamWorks topper Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a Los Angeles Times interview. He also noted that the company has been working more closely with retailers to improve DVD sales tracking. However, he remained optimistic about the company’s 2006 slate, Flushed Away (a CG-animated effort from the folks at Aardman) and Over the Hedge.