In DreamWorks Animation’s decades-long battle for dominance with Pixar Studios, arguably the most famous franchise created by the company has been Shrek, a series of tales concerning a surly but lovable green ogre voiced by Mike Myers. Arriving in 2001, the first Shrek film was a huge hit both commercially and with critics, bringing in over $484 million worldwide on a $60 million budget. Then, 2004’s Shrek 2 nearly doubled that haul, and was once again a critical darling, with some fans even citing it as better than the original.
Unfortunately, 2007’s Shrek the Third – while still profitable – was critically ravaged, with many viewers regarding it as the worst entry to date. The following installment, 2010’s Shrek Forever After, fared slightly better, but has proved to have little pop culture staying power. That all said, if there’s one thing Hollywood never seems to be willing to do, it’s let a once-popular franchise property stay dormant for too long.
With that in mind, Deadline is reporting NBC Universal – a subsidiary of media behemoth Comcast – has plans to “resurrect” the Shrek series, following the company’s $3.8 billion purchase of DreamWorks a few months back. As stated by NBC Universal chief Steve Burke earlier today, the plan going forward is for DreamWorks to pump out four theatrical films per year, as opposed to the two per year they currently release.
Illumination Entertainment – another animation company owned by Universal – executive Chris Meledandri is being enlisted by Burke to “try to help us figure out how to resurrect Shrek and take a lot of the existing DreamWorks franchises and add value as we create new franchises.”
One major thing not touched on by Burke during his statements today is what form exactly this revival of Shrek will take, from a creative standpoint. One common move for studios to make right now is, of course, to reboot the franchise continuity completely, such as Sony is doing with Ghostbusters. Then again, the “soft reboot” style – focusing on new characters in new settings but still referencing previous films – of blockbusters like Jurassic World has also proved successful in recent years. Of course, DreamWorks could simply end up doing another Shrek sequel, in an attempt to salvage the goodwill fans still generally have for the first two films.
Should NBC Universal and DreamWorks decide to do a fifth Shrek installment though, one wonders whether lead cast members Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas will be eager to return, having each been mostly away from the franchise for about five years now. Myers especially rarely acts anymore, so it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine him not being too eager to come back to a franchise whose last two installments tend to be dismissed. Whether Myers is done playing the character or not, though, it seems clear that Hollywood isn’t quite ready to let everyone’s favorite Scottish-accented ogre enjoy retirement in the swamp quite yet.
We’ll keep you updated on Shrek as more information becomes available.