Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Dreamworks" Takes a Tumble

After the dismal box office performance of Dreamworks Animation's big holiday film. "The Penguins of Madagascar," capping a disappointing year, there have been devastating consequences for the studio.  Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria were brought in as co-presidents of feature animation, replacing Bill Damaschke.  A few days ago, it was announced that 500 employees, nearly a quarter of their entire workforce would be laid off, and Pacific Data Images (PDI), the CGI animation studio responsible for "Antz" and "Shrek" that was eventually bought by Dreamworks, will be shuttered immediately.  Their slate of upcoming films has been slashed from twelve features to seven over the next four years, with an eighth, "Captain Underpants," being outsourced to another studio in Canada. 

This is a massive, and clearly much-needed reversal from the ambitious plans that Dreamworks had previously been announced.  In 2012, their plan was to release three features a year, a feat that the studio accomplished twice, in 2010 and 2014.  Company chief Jeffrey Katzenberg commented on the need to pull back: “We achieved the production capacity but not the creative capacity to do it. We have fallen short on the creative side of it."  No question, then, why "B.O.O: Bureau of Otherwordly Operations" has been sent back to development, a scant five months before it was supposed to arrive in theaters, along with their Bollywood themed project and the upcoming "Madagascar" and "Puss in Boots" sequels.  With "Kung Fu Panda 3" recently pushed back to March, 2016, that leaves "Home" as Dremaworks' sole release for 2015.  Also, note that "How to Train Your Dragon 3" has been pushed back yet again, this time to the summer of 2018.  

I've included the Dreamworks Animation projected release schedules from 2012, 2014, and 2015 for comparison below: 

Home (prev. Happy Smekday!) (Nov. 26, 2014)
The Penguins of Madagascar (March 27, 2015)
Trolls (June 5, 2015)
B.O.O: Bureau of Otherwordly Operations (Nov. 6, 2015)
Mumbai Musical (Dec. 19, 2015)
Kung Fu Panda 3 (March 18, 2016)
How to Train Your Dragon 3 (June 18, 2016)
The Penguins of Madagascar (Nov. 26, 2014)
Home (March 27, 2015)
B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations (June 5, 2015)
Kung Fu Panda 3 (Dec. 23, 2015)
Boss Baby (March 18, 2016)
Trolls (Nov. 4, 2016)
Captain Underpants (January 13, 2017)
Mumbai Musical (March 10, 2017)
How to Train Your Dragon 3 (June 9, 2017)
The Croods 2 (Dec. 22, 2017)
Larrikins (Feb. 16, 2018)
Madagascar 4 (May 18, 2018)
Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves (Dec. 21, 2018)

The Penguins of Madagascar (Nov. 26, 2014)
Home (March 27, 2015)
Kung Fu Panda 3 (March 18, 2016)
Trolls (Nov. 4, 2016)
Boss Baby (January 13, 2017)
The Croods 2 (Dec. 22, 2017)
Larrikins (February 16, 2018)
How to Train Your Dragon 3 (June 29, 2018)

Captain Underpants (unknown, 2017), outsourced to Mikros Image in Montreal


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