Disney's Pixar is arguably the most popular animation studio in Hollywood, but the studio's rival DreamWorks has built up a résumé that is full of box office hits, such as Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, and Madagascar. Unfortunately, of late DreamWorks Animation has lost a considerable amount of money on endeavors like Mr. Peabody and Sherman ($57 million loss), and Rise of the Guardians ($83 million loss). These developments have let DreamWorks to retool its animation department - which also involves shuffling around some release dates.
As part of this new business model, DreamWorks Animation will aim to release two films per year, as opposed to the previous output of three; and the company will produce one original movie and one sequel annually. That strategy isn't all that different from Pixar, which is looking to supplement fresh ideas (like Inside Out) with extensions of established brands (Toy Story 4).
Between 2016 and 2018, DreamWorks will be releasing six animated films. Kung Fu Panda 3 will debut on March 18, 2016; followed by Trolls (based on the popular toy line) on November 4 of that year. In 2017, audiences will see Boss Baby on January 13 and The Croods 2 on December 22. Boss Baby was originally scheduled for that March 18, 2016 date, but the studio has decided to push it back by a year.
Finally, in 2018, DreamWorks will distribute Larrikins on February 18, with How to Train Your Dragon 3 coming out on June 29 of that year. This is the second time Dragon 3 has been postponed. Originally slated for release during summer 2016, DreamWorks delayed it to summer 2017 last year before settling on this new 2018 date.
In a statement addressing the studio's reshuffling, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg expressed his desire to combine creative storytelling with commercially viable projects:
“The number one priority for DreamWorks Animation’s core film business is to deliver consistent creative and financial success. I am confident that this strategic plan will deliver great films, better box office results, and growing profitability across our complementary businesses."
Some fans may notice the absence of B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, which was a film DreamWorks Animation was planning on releasing this summer. Given that the animated flick was in production, it is odd to see it off of this new release slate, but apparently the higher-ups at the studio have deemed that it is not a priority - and thus, are putting it on the back burner for now. If B.O.O. ever does see the light of day, it won't be for a while.
Similarly, the previously-announced DreamWorks Animation films Madagascar 4 and Puss in Boots 2 were not included in the studio's restructured plan. It's unknown at this point in time if those films are going to be outright canceled or simply pushed back until the studio is done making the current batch of animated features; as of right now, though, best to presume they've been placed on the back-burner too.
One can hope that these changes will bring about a new age of prosperity for DreamWorks, and on paper it certainly seems like a good idea. Going off of the old adage "less is more," focusing on a smaller number of films annually could allow the creative team to spend more time with each one, working with it until it's just right. We'll have to see what becomes of these films when they hit theaters, but give credit to DreamWorks for drastically altering their plan in an effort to get it right.
Kung Fu Panda 3 will be in theaters March 18, 2016; Trolls will hit theaters November 4, 2016; Boss Baby will debut on January 13, 2017; The Croods 2 will come out on December 22, 2017; Larrikins will be released on February 16, 2018; and How to Train Your Dragon 3 will debut on June 29, 2018.
Source: DreamWorks Animation