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Pixar versus Dreamworks

This summer saw two animation powerhouses premiere the final installments of their biggest blockbusters. As Toy Story 3 and Shrek 4 play at the cinema, we put the businesses head to head.

 

Pixar got its start in the 1970s, when Alexander Schare, then-president of the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) had an idea for an animated film. In the coming years, tPixar would attract a who’s who of influential film and technology big wigs, including George Lucas, John Lasseter, and Steve Jobs. A collaborative relationship with Walt Disney Studios led to the production of Toy Story, the first-ever film of its kind to be created solely through computer graphics. For their impressive pedigree, Kipp gives Pixar the nod.

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Dreamworks Animation was founded in 1994, the brainchild of media moguls Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen (thus the SKG seen at the bottom of the DreamWorks logo).  The animation arm was spun off in 2004, and the studio’s films were distributed by Paramount, though it remained independent. While Spielberg and company brought considerable directorial, corporate, and cinematic clout to the endeavor, the team did not possess the same level of entrepreneurial genius as Pixar –considered by many as the innovator.

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While each of Pixar’s ten previous releases has been a box office success, the studio has posted less in total receipts than its rival. Pixar has grossed an estimated $5.5 billion at the box office worldwide, amounting to an average per film of $557 million, according to Metacritic website. The website estimates that 60 percent of Pixar’s films each brought in more than $500 million in worldwide receipts.

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Dreamworks reported $725 million in sales last year, and a net income of $151 million – up from $142 million in 2008. Their solid financials have translated into success with audiences, as Dreamworks beats Pixar at the box office, bagging an estimated 6.4 billion in worldwide grosses on their computer generated features. Because it’s hard to argue with the numbers, Kipp votes Dreamworks on this one.

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Audiences have been bullish on Pixar’s feature films to date. The company boasts a perfect record of 11 #1 movies.  And the latest offering, Toy Story 3, appears to be headed that direction. The film sold $153.8 million worth of tickets during their opening weekend at the worldwide box office, according to Walt Disney – setting a new opening record for Pixar. Critics loved it too – Rottentomatoes.com gives it a whopping 99 percent rating.

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For Shrek 4, it wasn’t such a fairytale ending, we’re afraid. The final installment “underperformed” at the box office, grabbing just $70 million in its opening weekend. Critics were mainly positive, but not overwhelmingly, with the filming scoring 58 percent on the Rottentomatoes.com rating. It’s not all bad news though – it still has a worldwide gross to date of over $600 million.

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Pixar’s biggest feature to date was the 2003 release, Finding Nemo. The film grossed $867.9 million for the studio. But "Toy Story 3" may be on track to beat that. The film sold $153.8 million worth of tickets during its opening weekend at the worldwide box office, according to estimates issued on Sunday by distributor Walt Disney. The opening trounces the old record for Pixar – “The Incredibles" grossed $70 million in its opening weekend in 2004.

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Dreamworks biggest to date: Shrek 2, which is also the third highest-grossing movie of all time. The film opened to receipts of $108 million in 2004, and has gone on to nearly $920 million in box office bucks. In this numbers game, Kipp goes with the final total, rather than the opening weekend. Dreamworks wins.

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In total, Pixar has produced just ten films to date: Toy Story 1, 2, and 3, A Bug’s Life, Monster’s Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up. Quality, maybe, but it’s hardly production line.

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Dreamworks, on the other hand, has made more than 20: Antz, The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Chicken Run, Shrek, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Shrek 2, Shark Tale, Madagascar, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Over the Hedge, Flushed Away, Shrek the Third, Bee Movie, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Monsters vs. Aliens, How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever After.

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Pixar may lack quantity, but it doesn’t skimp on quality. It has received five Best Animated Feature awards out of seven nominations. Winning films include Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Ratatouille (2007), WALL-E (2008), and Up (2009). The two nominated films to not receive the Oscar were Cars (2006) and Monsters, Inc. (2001).

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Dreamworks has garnered a comparatively paltry four nominations for its feature films, but the only winner the studio has produced is Shrek (2001). Must try harder.

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Kipp took a highly scientific sample to find out who the audience like best. Here are some of the comments: “You might equally compare Rolex and the makers of the fake Lolex… Dreamworks are a poor imitation, while Pixar are real artists.” “Pixar just makes more of an effort for the story to be liked by adults too.” “I’m really not a fan of Dreamworks movies [which] feel like they were made for kids only [Pixar movies offer] great comedic timing with the humor and the depth of their movies is second to none.”

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“I personally like Dreamworks better because every one of their movies has different plots when broken down. When Dreamworks make a good movie, it is an EXCELLENT movie”

“Since 2004, DreamWorks has released two computer-animated films for every one Pixar release. I like the option of more fun movies, even if it means less ‘artistic longevity’ or whatever people think is the benefit for waiting twice as long for an animated movie.” Pixar got the warmest response, though.

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No fairytale ending for Shrek, as Woody and co grab the glory.

 

3 Comments

  1. TRavis on August 3, 2010 7:56 pm

    DreamWorks and Pixar are Great Animated Logos
    They’re Both Even

     
  2. KNSat on August 4, 2010 8:43 pm

    Pixar has been making no more than 1 film a year, compared to around 2 films a year for Dreamworks. Yet Pixar has earned 5.5 billion compared to Dreamworks’ 6.4 billion. Based on the average earnings per film, Pixar would win handily.

     
  3. Kevin H. on August 6, 2010 7:32 pm

    “You might easily compare Rolex and…Lolex”!!!
    This statement, though witty and fun, is completely absurd and just made by a strict and ignorant die-heart Pixar fan. If you were to sit back and watch any of Dreamworks’ films, NONE try to stick with Pixar’s innocent family comedy, or baton passing leader roles scheme. They each have their own distinct style, and if anything I’ve seen Dreamworks come up with a larger range of artistic styles then Pixar. Look at Madagascar, Flushed Away, Dragons, and Kung-fu panda, all distinct different styles or art, directing, and story telling.

    “Dreamworks’ movies…feel like they were made for kids only” is also an incorrect statement. I find more “dark” humor, (compared to Pixar’s none, which isn’t a bad thing) in Dreamworks’ films! and this is the type of humor that makes up about 80% of adult cartoons and sitcoms.

    I am a Computer Animation students, and i have studied animation, and granted both companies are amazing, i’m sick of Dreamworks’ quality getting undercut! So they had a few flops, and they milk the money cow till it’s dead, but they have great films; some i would even say that i prefer over Pixar films.

     

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