Michael Francis steps down at DreamWorks Animation

Michael Francis steps down at DreamWorks Animation

In the latest executive shakeup at DreamWorks Animation, the Glendale-based studio said Michael Francis is stepping down from his role as the company's chief branding officer.

Francis, a former president of J.C. Penney who has overseen all of the company's branding, licensing and consumer products divisions since 2013, will leave his job at the end of December, DreamWorks Animation said in a statement.

His duties will be handled by Jim Fielding, the current head of global consumer products and former president of Disney Stores. Fielding also was a longtime senior executive at Claire's Stores.

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The executive change marks the latest overhaul of the management team at DreamWorks Animation. Following a string of box office flops, the studio cut 500 jobs, including those of Chief Operating Officer Mark Zoradi; marketing director Dawn Taubin; and Vice Chairman Lewis Coleman.

Longtime executive Bill Damaschke, the studio's chief creative officer, also left the company. Veteran producers Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria have taken over as co-presidents of feature animation.

Francis, a widely recognized branding expert who spent nearly three decades at Target Corp., was a key figure in the senior management team of DreamWorks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.

When he appointed Francis, Katzenberg said he was one of his most important hires. He said Francis would play a pivotal role in helping the studio find new ways to build its branded characters around the world and across multiple platforms.

But the company was forced to retreat from its ambitious strategy to diversify and spread its brands across new businesses after facing heavy losses from such movies as "Mr. Peabody & Sherman." The company posted a loss of $38.6 million in the second quarter, mainly because of restructuring-related charges.

Gross profit in the consumer products division fell to $1.8 million from $7.3 million a year ago, due to higher costs, according to a regulatory filing.

DreamWorks rolled out new location-based attractions in malls called DreamPlace, but revenue from the new ventures has been slower than expected.

Twitter: @rverrier

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