Morning Media Newsfeed: SoftBank Eyes DWA Purchase | Marvel Settles With Kirby Estate

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DreamWorks Animation in Sale Talks With Japan’s SoftBank (THR)
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation in a deal that would value the company at $3.4 billion, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. NYT SoftBank reportedly offered $32 a share for the boutique studio DreamWorks Animation, a 45 percent premium over the share price. That would value it at $3.4 billion. A DreamWorks Animation spokeswoman, Allison Rawlings, on Saturday night said, “We don’t comment on rumor and speculation.” Re/code / Reuters An acquisition of DreamWorks by SoftBank would make the Hollywood studio that created Shrek part of a the communications and media company that, under founder and CEO Masayoshi Son, has shown a willingness to take big bets on combining seemingly unrelated businesses. Two weeks ago, SoftBank booked a $4.6 billion gain on the share listing of Alibaba Group in New York. SoftBank retains a 32 percent stake in the Chinese e-commerce company, making it Alibaba’s biggest shareholder. Deadline Hollywood DreamWorks’ balance sheet had weakened in Q2 with $400 million in debt and $32 million in cash vs. Q2 2011, when it had no debt and $116 million in cash. DreamWorks also disclosed in July that its next two films — The Penguins Of Madagascar and Home — were costing them approximately $10 million more than planned: $135 million not including incentive-based compensation. Variety However, DreamWorks has scored considerably with its fruitful acquisition of AwesomenessTV, a digital network targeting a young online audience — that and its relationship with Netflix likely helped attract the attention of SoftBank. DreamWorks Animation has operated as a publicly traded company since 2004.

Marvel, Jack Kirby Estate Settlement Brings End to High-Stakes Battle (THR / Hollywood, Esq.)
On Friday, Marvel ended a long and bitter feud with the estate of comic book legend Jack Kirby, announcing a settlement just days before the U.S. Supreme Court had scheduled a conference to discuss whether to take up a case with potentially billions on the line. Mashable Kirby died in 1994. In recent years, as Disney bought Marvel and turned it into a multi-billion-dollar film and merchandising franchise, Kirby’s family sought to regain copyright ownership of the characters that he created, including the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the X-Men, the Hulk and the Silver Surfer. Defendants included Disney/Marvel, Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures. NYT Financial details were not disclosed. Because of long-term licensing agreements made by Marvel before the Disney purchase, a legal victory for the Kirbys would have touched almost every corner of Hollywood, not just Disney. For example, Sony holds long-term movie rights to Spider-Man; 20th Century Fox has the equivalent for the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Universal Studios holds Florida theme park rights to the Hulk and other characters. The Hollywood guilds and other heirs to the creators of old characters were also watching carefully. Variety Kirby’s heirs had sought to terminate grants of copyrights to the characters, under a clause of the 1976 Copyright Act, but Marvel contended that they continued to own the characters because Kirby was working “for hire.” The latter is an exception to artists and families who seek to terminate grants of copyrights. A federal court sided with Marvel in 2011, and an appellate court upheld the determination that Kirby’s work was “for hire.”

Fall TV Ratings: Broadcast Nets Relieved as Viewers Show Up for Big Premieres (Variety)
One week into the 2014-15 television season, according to Nielsen’s official game clock, the biggest headline for the broadcast nets is that they’ve been able to generate solid sampling for high-priority new shows such as Fox’s Gotham, CBS’ Scorpion, NBC’s The Mysteries of Laura and ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder. Deadline Hollywood All three series produced by Shonda Rhimes scoring fast-national demo ratings with a 3 in front of them for ABC Thursday. New drama Murder opened with a bang with a stellar 3.8 in adults 18-49 and 14 million viewers, holding on to 100 percent of its Scandal lead-in and growing 18 percent in total viewers Scandal hit another set of series highs of 3.8 in adults 18-49 and 11.9 million total viewers, and Grey’s Anatomy was solid to collectively deliver ABC’s strongest Thursday performance in five years. Variety At CBS/NFL Network, the Giants-Redskins game averaged a 6.0/19 in 18-49 and 16.29 million viewers overall, winning the night. The primetime average for the networks (5.6/18 in 18-49, 15.40 million viewers overall) is better than CBS itself has done on a premiere week Thursday since 2007. Despite increased competition, NBC’s two-hour The Biggest Loser (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall) matched its week-ago score. It was followed by the final-season premiere of Parenthood (1.4/4 in 18-39, 4.3 million viewers overall), which was down two tenths from its year-ago opener but matched the show’s highest rating since its second episode of last fall.