The duo made the promises in a Tuesday morning meeting with over 1,000 staffers in Glendale, five days after Comcast announced it was buying the animation company for $3.8 billion.
“This came together really fast, but has been in our hearts for a long time,” Comcast CEO Roberts said following opening remarks by DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. “We will absolutely continue to make animated films here. Today for me, Jeffrey, it’s the awesome responsibly of trying to find a way to take your dream and try to carry on your legacy and celebrate it in a way that will make you proud.”
NBCUniversal plans to operate DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment as separate arms. Illumination’s Chris Meledandri will run both divisions. Burke, the NBCUniversal CEO, said the company wants to grow.
“The reason why we are here is because we love the animated movie business and we love the animated television business, and consumer products, and theme parks,” he said. “If you are a student of this business, you know it’s very hard to do more than two animated films per year as one organization. If we could go from two animated films a year to four animated films a year by having two different parts of our company making those films, that would really advance our desire to be everything we could possibly be in the entertainment business.”
Burke then asked rhetorically if Dreamworks will keep making films in Glendale and emphasized the benefits of increased corporate synergy.
“Of course we are – that’s the whole point of what we’re doing,” he responded. “You are going to be part of the company that televises the Olympics, that has Jimmy Fallon, that has 22 cable channels, that has great theme parks around the world, and everything you create is going to be celebrated and marketed and promoted and enjoyed by the rest of this great company.”
Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal, said Roberts and Burke have been looking for ways to grow the company since Comcast bought the company in 2009.
“When they bought NBCU, Brian and Steve immediately came in and looked for ways to grow the business,” Meyer said. “We’re here because we believe in what you have. You make this company work – we’re here because of what you built and how you built it.”
Katzenberg is segueing to a role as head of a newly-created division called DreamWorks New Media, which will be made up of the company’s interests in Awesomeness TV and Nova. He told the employees that he likes, respects and trusts Roberts, Burke and Meyer.
“What became incredibly clear to me very quickly is the opportunity for this company for the next five years in their hands – with their resources, with their ambition – was just absolutely beyond anything I could achieve,” Katzenberg said.
He also said that the DreamWorks employees were the most important reason that he decided to sell the company.
“You people have helped me build this company – it is as much yours as it is mine,” he added. “Your loyalty and your passion – your incredible hard work. I owe this to you. I owe it to you because in their hands – your future is actually greater, and filled with more opportunity, than it is in mine. I really feel I owe you that.”