Despite success stories like The Croods and current Academy Award-nominee How to Train Your Dragon 2, DreamWorks Animation has suffered a series of high-profile failures, including Rise of the Guardians ($83 million in losses), Turbo ($13 million in losses), Mr. Peabody & Sherman ($57 million in losses). Thus, the company has announced a massive restructuring of its core feature animation business, focusing its feature production from three films per year down to two.
Under the leadership of newly appointed Co-Presidents of Feature Animation Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria, the studio’s core feature animation production will now focus on six specific movies for the next three years – one original film and one sequel each year – including Kung Fu Panda 3 (March 18, 2016), Trolls (Nov. 4, 2016), Boss Baby (Jan. 13, 2017), The Croods 2 (Dec. 22, 2017), Larrikins (Feb. 16, 2018) and How to Train Your Dragon 3 (June 29, 2018). (Boss Baby and How to Train Your Dragon 3 have both been pushed back from their previous release dates.)
Captain Underpants, which will be produced outside of the studio’s pipeline at a significantly lower cost, is scheduled for release in 2017. The company’s 2015 release, Home, will open domestically on March 27.
“The number one priority for DreamWorks Animation’s core film business is to deliver consistent creative and financial success,” said DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg. “I am confident that this strategic plan will deliver great films, better box office results, and growing profitability across our complementary businesses.”
The overall reduction of DreamWorks Animation’s feature production output will result in a loss of approximately 500 jobs across all locations and all divisions of the studio.
Nothing was said about the decision to move B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, already in production with a voice cast including Seth Rogen, Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy, out of its summer 2015 slot, although apparently it’s being moved back into development.
There was no word on what will happen with previously-announced projects like the Mumbai Musical from director Kevin Lima (Enchanted), which was originally scheduled for March 10, 2017, Madagascar 4, originally slated for May 18, 2018, as well as the December sequel Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves. Will these projects be pushed back into the next decade, or canceled outright?