About a dozen book ideas are being kicked around for DreamWorks’ animated feature film debut The Prince of Egypt, thanks in part to a licensing agreement just signed between Penguin Putnam and the studio. The multiyear deal gives Penguin Putnam publishing rights to the first five animated features released by DreamWorks.
Although the deal primarily concerns animated features, it allows the publisher to submit book proposals for live-action film and TV properties, including TV animation. With the move, DreamWorks joins October Films and Miramax in a trend of young studios setting up partnerships with publishers.
‘We wanted to have a publishing partner rather than negotiating a new deal for each property,’ says Anne McGrath, DreamWorks’ head of publishing. Penguin Putnam was chosen because of the publisher’s ability to handle the four categories DreamWorks plans to pursue: adult, child, mass market and trade.
McGrath says discussions between DreamWorks and publishers began early last year. ‘[DreamWorks was] putting together a philosophy for how we approach licensees. The goal was to make [licensees] familiar with our capabilities across all market segments,’ she says. The studio also sought ways to achieve a high level of quality for its licensed products, especially for kids and family properties, according to McGrath.
However, DreamWorks is not blind to the burgeoning business of movie-related books. ‘People like to read about stories that are fascinating. There’s a lot of interest in the marketplace for [that],’ says McGrath. Banking on that momentum, DreamWorks made its publishing move directly on the heels of a deal struck between Penguin Book Publishers, sister company to Penguin Putnam, and October Films.