DreamWorks Animation's Shrek franchise was easily the studio's most lucrative property during the 2000s, resulting in four different film installments and the spinoff movie, Puss in Boots. It was perhaps inevitable, then, that DreamWorks would return to that well, all the more so after the studio re-shuffled its animated film production slate in the aftermath of such commercial disappointments as Rise of the Guardians and Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
NBCUniversal's acquisition of DreamWorks earlier this year - including, such prized animated properties as Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon in addition to Shrek - only further increased the likelihood that everyone's favorite giant green ogre (as voiced by Mike Meyers) would be coming back, in one way or another. Now, we have a tentative release date for Shrek's return too.
THR is reporting that Universal intends to start releasing two DreamWorks animated films every year, in the foreseeable future. The 2019 slate will thus include Shrek 5, in addition to an original project titled Shadows from David Williams and the Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy filmmaker, Edgar Wright. This news arrives not too long after renewed reports that DreamWorks' plans for the future include reviving the Shrek film brand.
It appears as though Universal and DreamWorks Animation's goal is to release an even balance of original intellectual properties (Trolls, Boss Baby, Shadows) and franchise installments (The Croods 2, How to Train Your Dragon 3, Shrek 5) on an annual basis over the upcoming years. It's a strategy that should serve the studios well, as it will allow DreamWorks to avoid burning out its audience with a wave of sequels, prequels, and/or spinoffs, while at the same time continuing to create original material that, should it be well-received, could in turn give rise to new DreamWorks franchises too.
As to what Shrek 5 will be about: the fourth Shrek film, Shrek Forever After, was released back in 2010 and feature an It's a Wonderful Life-style narrative where Shrek is trapped in an alternate timeline after making a bad deal with Rumpelstiltskin. Shrek Forever After was marketed as being "The Final Chapter" upon its release in theaters and doesn't exactly offer any obvious clues as to where a traditional followup could go.
One obvious route for Shrek 5 to take is that of the soft reboot. That would allow moviegoers to take a trip down memory lane and revisit beloved characters from Shrek films past (Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, and so on), while at the same time paving the way for different protagonists to carry the franchise into the future (Shrek and Fiona's children, perhaps). Shrek 5 will presumably include a passing of the torch of some sorts though, seeing as it's unlikely that DreamWorks would revisit such a lucrative property just to give it one final (final) chapter.
Shrek 5 arrives in 2019. We'll let you know when the film gets an exact release date.