Dreamworks Animation announced an incredibly ambitious slate of feature films and television shows over the last week. In fact, enough projects to keep the studio busy through 2012.
For starters, DWA has updated its theatrical release schedule for the next few years. They are accelerating the number of films considerably with eight movies between 2010 and the end of the world as we know it.
“Our exceptionally talented and highly experienced creative team is bringing to DreamWorks Animation a significant number of imaginative, original and cutting-edge ideas today,” said Bill Damaschke, Co-President of Production and President of Live Theatrical. “Having achieved a high level of success and consistency in our creative process and having in our development pipeline more great story concepts than ever before, we are very confident in our ability to add one original film every other year.”
The schedule includes:
• How to Train Your Dragon: Based on the book of the same name by Cressida Cowell. It is written and directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois (Lilo & Stitch), produced by Bonnie Arnold (Over the Hedge, Toy Story) and will star Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler and America Ferrera. The story centers around a Viking teenager who lives on the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life. When he encounters, and ultimately befriends, an injured dragon, his world is turned upside down. It will be released on March 26, 2010.
• Shrek Forever After: Aron Warner (Shrek) and Andrew Adamson (The Chronicles of Narnia) are serving as executive producers on the film, which is being directed by Mike Mitchell and produced by Teresa Cheng and Gina Shay and will feature the original cast, including Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. It will be released on May 21, 2010.
• Oobermind (formerly Master Mind): Directed by Tom McGrath (Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa), executive produced by Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld, and will star Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey. When super villain Oobermind defeats his archrival Metro Man, the world should be his oyster. Instead, Oobermind falls into total despair. So he creates a new rival. Unfortunately, the new hero wants to be a super villain too. Who will defend the innocent? Oobermind! That’s who. It will be released on November 5, 2010.
• Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom: The next chapter of the 2008 blockbuster is directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, produced by Melissa Cobb and feature the return of the original all-star cast. A new villain has emerged with a mysterious weapon so powerful it threatens the very existence of kung fu, but Po must also confront his long lost past. June 3, 2011
• The Guardians (working title): Based on the forthcoming books by William Joyce, who brought it to DWA with Reel FX. It is being directed by Jeff Lynch in collaboration with Joyce and produced by Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein. The world’s five unlikeliest heroes – Jack Frost, North (aka Santa), Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny), Tooth (the Tooth Fairy), and Sandy (the Sandman) – must band together to stop an ancient spirit called Pitch (the Boogeyman) from plunging the world into eternal darkness. November 4, 2011.
• Puss In Boots (working title): Directed by Chris Miller, produced by Joe Aguilar and Michelle Raimo and executive produced by Andrew Adamson. You know it stars Antonio Banderas as Puss In Boots and Salma Hayek as Kitty, Puss’ love interest. It’s a swashbuckling ride through Puss’s early years as he teams with mastermind Humpty Dumpty and the street-savvy Kitty to steal the famed Goose that lays the Golden Eggs. March 30, 2012
• Also, the next chapter of Madagascar will be again be directed by Eric Darnell and produced by Mireille Soria and Mark Swift (Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa). Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman are still fighting to get home. This time the road takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus. May 25, 2012.
• Three more projects for 2012 & beyond:
- The Croods (working title): Directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco and produced by Kristine Belson and Jane Hartwell. An old school caveman must lead his family across a volatile prehistoric landscape in search of a new home. The real complication arises when the family is joined by an alarmingly modern caveman whose search for “tomorrow” is at odds with our hero’s reliance on the traditions of yesterday. Monty Python’s John Cleese wrote the script with Sanders.
- Truckers (working title): Based on The Bromeliad Trilogy by Terry Pratchett; written by Oscar winner, Simon Beaufoy. A society of tiny beings lives in a department store, when they discover that the store is slated for demolition.
- Untitled Super Secret Ghost Project, in which DreamWorks Animation will bring you ghosts as you’ve never seen them before.
“We are thrilled with our exciting line-up of feature projects,” added DreamWorks Animation Chief Operating Officer Ann Daly. “With so many promising original ideas and new franchise chapters in our pipeline, we believe this is the perfect time to share our theatrical plans for the next few years as we continue to lead the 3D charge and push creative boundaries to bring our stories to life.”
Yet DWA also has a few projects planned for the small screen, too. Spurred by the success of The Penguins of Madagascar series, they are working on a spinoff based on Kung Fu Panda. The series apparently will also air on Nickelodeon.
“The great thing about the TV series on which we are working today is that The Penguins of Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda: The Series are both based on characters that we have spent years and years developing,” said Damaschke. “Nickelodeon is truly maintaining the artistic integrity of what DreamWorks Animation filmmakers worked so hard to create for these movies and the series give us a great opportunity to expand on our stories in a way that allows kids to remain engaged all year round.”
The series will chronicle the further adventures of Po, the always hungry martial arts panda. He is aided by his mentor Shifu and the Furious Five. Anointed “Dragon Warrior,” Po will protect the Valley of Peace from threats of all kind. It will be executive produced by Cheryl Holliday (King of the Hill, Still Standing, Father of the Pride). The show is being produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank. There’s no news about the voice cast, although informed sources say it will probably be different from the movie.
“The success of our franchises today has allowed us to expand into new areas, such as TV specials and series,” says Damaschke. “Creating stories, worlds and characters that live on after one movie is at the heart of everything we do at DreamWorks Animation.
“While we are primarily focused on developing our own franchise properties, we actually already are involved with a non-movie related project. Turner Broadcasting recently announced plans for an animated comedy series, Neighbors From Hell, which is an original idea that we developed and are producing in association with 20th Century Fox for next year.”
Neighbors From Hell tells the tales of a typical suburban family, except that they DID previously live in Hell. Otherwise, they are a typical, all-American suburban family, with Balthazor; his wife, Tina; their two children, Mandy and Josh; and their dog, Pazuzu. They even vote Republican. They have been sent to Earth to pose as normal suburbanites with a mission to help humans from finding their way to Hell. Their task is made all the more complicated by Balthazor’s growing affection for humans and their odd but endearing qualities.
It will also be going to TBS, as part of the network’s focus on comedy programming. The network has placed an initial order of ten episodes. A formal debut date has not been established.
“By depicting everyday American life as seen through the eyes of Balthazor and his family, Neighbors From
Hell puts a fish-out-of-water twist on the suburban comedy genre,” said DWA big man himself, Jeffrey Katzenberg. “We’re proud that this unique series will serve as TBS’s first venture into original primetime animation.”
“There are many differences in terms of production timelines, budgetary considerations, script writing, voice talent, etc,” said Damaschke, “but for us – no matter what the outlet – everything we do must come down to great storytelling, compelling characters and original ideas. If those elements are there, we have found that a story can work in the movie theater, on the stage, at home on TV, and so forth.”
Expect updates as the various projects move forward.
ASIFA HONORS STANCHFIELD BOOK
Don Hahn and a panel of distinguished guests is holding a discussion of Walt Stanchfield’s Drawn to Life series. It will be held at Woodbury University’s Fletcher Jones Foundation Auditorium; 7500 Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank, CA on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 7:00 p.m.
Drawn to Life is a two volume collection of the legendary lectures from long-time Disney animator and is edited by Hahn. Walt was an animator, trainer, mentor and coach for decades at Disney and helped breathe life into the new golden age of animation with his teachings. He influenced such talented artists as Tim Burton, Brad Bird, John Musker, Glen Keane, Andreas Deja and John Lasseter.
Following the panel discussion, Don Hahn will sign copies. A limited number of copies of this two volume collection will be available for purchase at the event. Reservations are not required for this program. Admission is free. Parking is free and available on the Woodbury University campus.
DISNEY LAUNCHES ITS OWN CON
Disney fans will be given unprecedented access to never-before-seen movies, TV shows, park experiences, collectibles and more from Sept. 10 to Sept. 13 at the Anaheim Convention Center when Disney and D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans present the first-ever D23 EXPO.
Tickets to the D23 EXPO are available beginning today at http://www.D23Expo.com. Admission includes access to all experiences and entertainment at the D23 EXPO and can be purchased for single days or for the full four days of festivities. Admission is discounted for members of D23.
“We hope this will be the ultimate event for the multitude of fans who have been so instrumental in Disney’s success,” said Disney President and CEO Bob Iger. “The D23 Expo represents the finest in Disney entertainment from across our great company and will offer a one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experience for people of all ages to enjoy.”
Among the centerpiece events of the D23 EXPO will be an extraordinary, exclusive opportunity to get early glimpses of several all-new Disney feature films, including The Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel, Disney’s A Christmas Carol, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, TRON, Toy Story 3, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Walt Disney Pictures will present these special sneak peeks in a state-of-the-art cinema built especially for the D23 EXPO.
Other highlights will include an exhibition offering an incredible collection of classic and contemporary Disney props, artifacts and costumes will be accessible to the public for the first time ever. Entitled “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives,” it brings together an 11-foot model of the Nautilus; the jewel-encrusted book used in the opening moments of Sleeping Beauty.
Details of more will be announced in the coming weeks at www.D23Expo.com.
Fans also will be able to view and even take part in the first-ever Disney Fan Art Gallery, which will include the finalists in the Donald Duck 75th Anniversary Portrait Contest, as well as a one-of-a-kind fan art show. Full details and contest rules can be found at www.D23Expo.com or www.disney.com/D23.
Tickets to the D23 EXPO go on sale today.