In a major shakeup, Chris deFaria is leaving the presidency of Dreamworks Feature Animation Group after two years in the post.
He’s being replaced by Margie Cohn, who previously served as president of DreamWorks Animation Television and will now oversee both film and television operations. She will report to Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures, who made the announcement on Wednesday.
NBCUniversal acquired DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion in August, 2016, and installed deFaria as president five months later. He will depart DWA in the coming months following the global release of “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” which opens Feb. 22 in North America.
DeFaria oversaw the completion of the third “How to Train Your Dragon” movie, the launch of DreamWorks Shorts Program and the opening of the DreamWorks Theater attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood. He will continue to consult with Comcast NBCUniversal on a number of special initiatives.
Prior to joining DreamWorks, DeFaria worked at Warner Bros. on its animated projects and feature films. He has executive producer credits on “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Gravity,” “Sucker Punch,” “Ready Player One,” and “Happy Feet Two.”
“As we look to design the next chapter in DreamWorks Animation’s iconic history, we see opportunity in aligning the film and television businesses under a singular vision,” said Langley in a statement. “Margie is a proven executive with the right creative instincts and results-oriented skill set to make DreamWorks an innovative and seamless organization where artists can create original, high-quality content for audiences worldwide. We are grateful to Chris for his contributions and insights over the last couple of years.”
Universal also said that Illumination Founder and CEO Chris Meledandri will continue to act in a strategic role as senior adviser. Meledandri is overseeing the reimagining of the Shrek franchise, and Illumination executive Latifa Ouaou is spearheading development on the “Puss in Boots” sequel. Meledandri founded Universal-owned Illumination in 2008.
Meledandri said, “I look forward to working with Margie and the talented team of artists at DreamWorks Animation to help expand on the rich tradition of character creation, storytelling and artistry that people have come to associate with the studio.”
Universal will release the DreamWorks Animation-Pearl Studio production “Abominable” on Sept. 27. DreamWorks Animation titles in production include “Trolls World Tour,” “The Croods 2,” and “The Boss Baby 2.”
Before joining DreamWorks, Cohn spent 26 years at Nickelodeon, where she oversaw “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” “The Fairly Odd Parents,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” and the Kids’ Choice Awards in addition to over 20 made-for-TV movies.
The news was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.