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‘Rise of the Guardians’ Rebounds for DreamWorks Animation

"The Croods," the first release through 20th Century Fox, also big performer for toon studio.

Rise of the Guardians” may have disappointed at the box office, but is turning out to be a big seller on homevideo.

The animated film, which earned just $304 million worldwide in the fall, has sold around 3.2 million units on disc and as digital downloads since March, contributing $9.6 million in revenue to DWA’s first quarter results, which were announced Tuesday.

The results doubled internal sales projections at DWA and Paramount, which released the film across homevideo platforms.

“Rise of the Guardians’” homevid performance helped lift DWA’s first quarter results, besting analysts’ expectations for the three-month period that wrapped March 31, during which it posted $134.6 million in revenue and profits of $5.6 million (down from $9 million for the same year-ago period). Wall Street had expected revenue to come in at around $99 million.

“It really is a showstopper,” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told Variety. “There’s no other way of categorizing it. The performance of ‘Guardians’ was significantly above the distributor’s projects, significantly above our internal projections and above the purchase intent.”

DreamWorks also saw its other family titles also perform well on homevid during the first quarter.

In fact, sales are up so far this year, versus a stable 2012. “It’s a significant uptick,” Katzenberg said, “and something we haven’t seen in a long time.”

“Guardians’” strong performance outside of theaters indicates that the family homevid market “shows signs of strength,” said DreamWorks Animation’s chief financial officer Ann Daly.

“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” generated $22.8 million of revenue, also mostly from homevid, selling 7.2 million units through the end of the quarter. Meanwhile “Puss In Boots” also earned another $7.5 million, with 6.8 million home entertainment units sold worldwide to date.

DWA’s library generated $41.4 million of revenue.

Other items, including TV series and live theatrical properties, contributed $20.9 million, while recent purchase, Classic Media, added $27.9 million to the company’s coffers.

While “Guardians” is a hit outside of theaters, DWA was eager to celebrate its most recent success, “The Croods,” still playing in theaters.

The first film that DWA has released through its new distribution deal with 20th Century Fox, “The Croods” has earned $163.5 million at the domestic box office and $315.5 million at the international box office for a worldwide gross of $479 million since its bow March 22. It’s the first film to pass the $300 million mark in foreign territories so far this year.

During the quarter, however, “The Croods” contributed just $4 million in revenue for the company. Film is expected to significantly pump up DWA’s second quarter results.

“It’s great to be in the homerun hitting business again,” Katzenberg said during a call with analysts and investors following the quarterly results.

“The Croods” is the best performing film for DWA since “Kung Fu Panda” five years ago, Katzenberg added. Overall, film is expected to gross around $550 million during its run, giving DWA its sixth franchise, key for the company as it increasingly looks to grow its franchises through TV shows, licensing, live events and consumer products.

Given its success, DreamWorks now plans to produce a TV show for “The Croods” and will integrate the characters into its live entertainment experiences at resorts around the world and on Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships.

DWA’s next toon, “Turbo,” starring a racing snail, bows July 17.

Company’s stock rose $1.36 to $20.64 after the close of the bell upon the news.

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