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DreamWorks Designs Films to Drive Audience Engagement
As a specialized studio, DreamWorks Studios Partner Stacey Snider says it still does what most studios do.
"We're trying to speak directly to our ticket buyers," Snider said, speaking at the Entertainment & Society session for The Atlantic Meets the Pacific event in La Jolla, CA on Sunday.
How people consume entertainment with a myriad of new devices is changing the movie industry, like so many other established media industries -- forcing the studios to rethink and redefine their relationships with what once was a passive audience.
For example, the core audience for Lincoln, DreamWorks' latest release is "adult smarty pants," she said.
Did the studio pick the Nov. 9 release date to coincide with the election?
"We didn't want the movie to be mistaken for a diatribe," she said, "but we knew people would be receptive."
The Lincoln script hones in on the period of his presidency when he struggled to find a way to abolish slavery as the nation also needed to end the Civil War. Lincoln had to convince the South to negotiate the end of the war while he tried to hold moral ground against slavery.
"For everyone who says things are so polarized now, let me say you haven't seen anything yet," Snider said. "You have muskets pointed at each other, 600,000 dead, parties divided, the country divided."
While she celebrates the movies the studio has made in the past, she said, "We need to promise to deliver you something that is electrifying and transcending"
The reason movies get made often have to do with outside forces, such as money and star power. But studios can find ways to work within those confines to make films that do more than just entertain audiences, Snider suggested. Even in challenging and changing times for the industry, it is a worthwhile pursuit to attempt to make movies that move people and engage them.
Erin Brockovich, for example, got made because the studio got Julia Roberts to star in it, Snider said. Her favorite movie, One True Thing, a small movie with a wonderful cast, would never get made by a major studio today.
Snider said she refuses to use the term "content" to describe movies, rejecting what she called the all-too-popular notion that they are just for entertainment.
"I do believe that movies can change the conversation," she said.