Shrek and Puss In Boots are both set for the reboot treatment under the guidance of Despicable Me mastermind, Chris Meledandri. First released in 2001, Shrek's titular ogre quickly became a movie icon and, with a star-studded cast featuring Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy, conquered the box office with its comedic take on traditional fairy tale tropes. Sequels naturally followed but, unfortunately, the law of diminishing returns was in full effect and despite making plenty of money, the franchise has been on a downward slide in terms of critical acclaim.
A Puss In Boots spinoff was released in 2011 centered on Antonio Banderas' fencing feline to great success but a scheduled sequel was quietly shelved in 2015. Similarly, there have been reports of a fifth Shrek movie in the works with Michael McCullers writing the story, however news of such a project has gone ominously quiet in recent times. This may be due to Comcast's 2016 purchase of DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion and the studio's first release under the Universal banner will be next year's How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.
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Variety is now reporting that Universal intends to reinvent one of DreamWorks Animation's most popular properties: the Shrek franchise. The report states that new Shrek and Puss In Boots movies will be overseen by Chris Meledandri, but while these films won't be straight sequels of the established Shrek series, it seems that Universal doesn't exactly intend to start from scratch either. Meledandri told Variety:
“When you look back on those vocal performances they’re awesome, and while you certainly could make a case for a complete reinvention, I find myself responding to my own nostalgic feelings of wanting to go back to those characterizations. The challenge for us has been to find something that really does feel like it’s not simply yet another film in a series of sequels... You want to find something in the narrative that really feels like a departure.”
It's certainly not hard to see why Universal is seeking to revisit the Shrek brand. After all, they spent plenty of cash acquiring the DreamWorks Animation catalogue and it's only natural that they'd want to make as much money as possible from those properties - similar to how Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm has led to a glut of new Star Wars projects. From a fan perspective however, many will perhaps be wondering whether a Shrek reboot is strictly necessary.
It's not immediately obvious how the new Shrek movies will balance not being attached to the previous films while still retaining the same, familiar voices and characterizations. After all, when a movie franchise reboots completely, fans know to expect the story to start from the very beginning. However, how does a semi-reboot such as this navigate established narrative? For example, will Shrek and Fiona still be together and have their children? If so, the movie is essentially Shrek 5. If not, then the presence of the original cast in an entirely new story could make for confusing viewing.
The new Shrek and Puss In Boots movies are currently without release dates. More news as it arrives.