Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures

November 17, 2016

GOULDTHORPE | DreamWorks Revisited: Where Are They Post-Trolls?

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A couple months ago, I delivered my thoughts about DreamWorks Animation, a studio that’s grabbed the industry spotlight — not through any smashing successes this year, but because of their recent acquisition. I don’t want to go through that whole rigamarole once more, but some recent developments have grabbed my attention and deserve to be brought to the discussion table.

First of all, some good news: Trolls seems to be doing very well in theaters. After two weeks, it’s brought in $226 million worldwide. With a budget of $125 million, it looks like there’s some profit in DreamWorks’ future. It’s also worth noting that this is the first feature film the studio’s released since their purchase by Comcast. It is in effect the last we’ll see of DreamWorks as an independent company, with the new management starting to leave more and more fingerprints on movies as they come out. Here’s to hoping that positive changes are wrought.

With that hope in place, some poor news for the studio’s international vision. Within the past week, Cartoon Brew has reported that DreamWorks Dedicated Unit, an Indian branch of the studio, is going to be shuttered. The site has been open since 2008 and has worked on the Kung Fu Panda movies, Puss in Boots and more.  Over 300 employees are going to be laid off as a result of the campus’ closure. Now, DreamWorks has had to close campuses before, such as when they shut down their Redwood City location in early 2015. Yet, I still wonder whether the decision had been influenced by the recent election? I hate having to bring politics into my happy little corner of animation, and I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about it at this point. But it still deserves to be considered, will DreamWorks’ goal of tapping talent across borders conflict with the president-elect’s goal to promote intra-national development? In other words: will DreamWorks’ special distribution agreement with and work in China be threatened by the incoming administration? And could the studio be taking steps now to minimize potential losses? Sadly, I cannot answer these questions.

I’ll leave off with a question I can answer: what can we expect next from DreamWorks? Their next big release will be their new series Trollhunters on Netflix, which has Guillermo del Toro attached to it. Apparently, there’s also a series based on Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron in the making and due in 2017.  I for one am excited for this latter series.  We’ll also be getting new seasons of their existing shows; their King Julien (the “Move It” lemur from Madagascar) spinoff got a new season on the 11th. Meanwhile, their next feature film will be The Boss Baby on March 31. One thing we will NOT be getting, though, is a sequel to The Croods. The 2013 movie had been slated for a second run. Development lingered for the past three years, but it turns out that the metaphorical plug has been pulled. I personally feel no great loss. The Croods was a decent enough movie, but I felt no real pining to return to that world.  Hopefully DreamWorks can end up focusing in on more original projects, and end up delivering something great.  It’s been up and down for the studio for quite some time, and it looks like they have a while yet before they can find a rock to stand on.

David Gouldthorpe is a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at [email protected]. His column Animation Analysis runs alternate Thursdays online this semester.