With 20th Century Fox recently picking up the distribution duties for DreamWorks Animation’s films (following a profitable relationship with Paramount Pictures that ended somewhat sourly), it was all but a matter of time before the studio announced (via Hollywood Reporter) a fuller slate of movies for the partnership, but this is unprecedented – an ambitious, 12-movie schedule that includes three and sometimes four movies a year, including not one but two “How to Train Your Dragon” sequels and a new paranormal-themed movie starring Seth Rogen.
Of the new announcements, “B.O.O: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations” is probably the most high-profile. Starring Rogen, a DreamWorks Animation favorite who has provided voices for “Shrek the Third,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Monsters vs. Aliens,” “and “Kung Fu Panda 2,” the movie is directed by Tony Leondis (who directed the iffy animated film “Igor,” which proved that, yes, there is such a thing as too many S&M jokes in a movie made for children) and will be written by Maryann Garger (who co-wrote “Flushed Away“) from an original idea by Leondis. It will weirdly miss Halloween and open on November 6th, 2015.
“How to Train Your Dragon 3,” also previously unannounced, but assumed by many to be in the works, will be out on June 18th, 2016. Dean DeBlois, who co-directed the enchanting first film with his “Lilo & Stitch” partner-in-crime Chris Sanders, will direct both that and the slightly more imminent sequel. (“How to Train Your Dragon 2” hits on June 20th, 2014.) Sanders, on the other hand, will handle caveman comedy “The Croods,” out on March 22nd, 2013.
The mega-announcement also solidifies plans for previously announced projects – things like “Happy Smekday!,” the Tim Johnson-directed, Rihanna-starring adaptation of Adam Rex‘s beloved children’s book “The True Meaning of Smekday,” which now has a November 26th, 2014 release date, and “Trolls” (that’s a working title), which we’re pretty sure is the same project that was announced as a writing/directing vehicle for Guillermo del Toro (who has served as a creative consultant and executive producer on all DreamWorks Animation product since “MegaMind“) based on a young adult novel he was working on. While there hasn’t been any further clarification on whether or not del Toro will indeed still be writing/directing (and given his overflowing dance card, it seems unlikely) or if this is even the same project. Either way, something called “Trolls” is coming our way on June 5th, 2015, featuring the voices of Jason Schwartzman and Chloe Moretz.
Of all the movies announced, “Mumbai Musical” sounds like it could be potentially the coolest (and weirdest). According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the film will be based on the Hindu epic poem the Ramayana, but told from the perspective of the story’s monkey characters. The movie will feature music by A.R. Rahman and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (who wrote the lyrics for “Wicked” and a number of Disney animated musicals) and be released on December 19th, 2015.
It remains to be seen how this will affect Fox’s relationship with their own Blue Sky Studios, the Greenwich, Connecticut-based studio that’s responsible for the series of popular “Ice Age” films (the most recent of which, “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” remains one of this year’s top grossing films internationally). Blue Sky currently only has two movies scheduled for release – the Chris Wedge-directed miniaturized fantasy “Epic,” coming out on May 24th, 2013; and “Rio 2,” scheduled for April 24th, 2014.
The kind of accelerated production schedule DreamWorks Animation has enacted is virtually unprecedented in animation. One animated movie a year for a studio is considered something of a feat, given the amount of people that work on an animated movie and the years of development that go into them. Pixar plans on doing two movies a year, and even that will be a stretch, using the combined talent of both their California and newly opened Canadian campuses.
But the DreamWorks model seems to be sound – one movie in the spring, another in the summer, and a third close to the winter holidays; mixing both pre-existing properties (the already-announced “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” on November 1st, 2013; and “The Penguins of Madagascar” on March 27th, 2015) and brand new product (like “Turbo,” the racing snail movie, on “July 19th, 2013 and the 2D/3D hybrid “Me and My Shadow,” out on March 14th, 2014). If it’s one thing we know, too, it’s to never underestimate Jeffrey Katzenberg. The full line-up below.
“The Croods” (March 22, 2013)
“Turbo” (July 19, 2013)
“Mr. Peabody & Sherman” (Nov. 1, 2013)
“Me and My Shadow” (March 14, 2014)
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” (June 20, 2014)
“Happy Smekday!” (Nov. 26, 2014)
“The Penguins of Madagascar” (March 27, 2015)
“Trolls” (working title, June 5, 2015)
“B.O.O: Bureau of Otherwordly Operations” (Nov. 6, 2015)
“Mumbai Musical” (working title, Dec. 19, 2015)
“Kung Fu Panda 3” (March 18, 2016)
“How to Train Your Dragon 3” (June 18, 2016)