DreamWorks Animation 2012-2014 Slate Includes Baumbach, Del Toro and Downey Jr.

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Photo: DreamWorks Animation

Today DreamWorks Animation issued a press release announcing their theatrical plans through 2014 featuring six original films three sequels based on Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon franchises. Or, at least, that’s how they put it. You could also include the Shrek franchise in there as well as Puss in Boots hits theaters on November 4 along with Kung Fu Panda 2 on May 26 as the studio’s other 2011 release.

I will get to the details on the list of films in a second, but I thought I would first reference Rumblewick, which was announced as going in production last week via a press release that also included the above piece of art. The film is being directed by Tim Johnson (Over The Hedge, Antz) with a screenplay by Jim Herzfeld (Meet the Fockers, Meet the Parents), which is inspired by the children’s book, “My Unwilling Witch (The Rumblewick Letters)” by Hiawyn Oram and Sarah Warburton.

The story follows the adventures of a magician’s rabbit for whom the invitation to learn real magic and train as a witch’s familiar seems like a dream come true! But the dream becomes a nightmare when he discovers he’s really a pawn in a game between rival witches. Having learned the hard way that when something seems too good to be true it probably is, he must outsmart them both to save his fuzzy little hide. DreamWorks Animation development executives Chris Kuser and Gregg Taylor are overseeing the project at the studio.

Rumblewick may not see the light of day until 2015, which is why it probably didn’t make today’s announcement, but I felt now was the best time to bring it up. As for everything else, let’s dig in.

I already mentioned this year’s releases Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2, which I assume you are all already familiar, and if not just click on the titles for more information, pictures and trailers. Otherwise, the first title is Madagascar 3, which will be released on June 8, 2012.

Madagascar 3 is directed by Eric Darnell (Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa) and produced by Mireille Soria (Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa) and Mark Swift (Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa). It is being written by Noah Baumbach (Fantastic Mr. Fox) and once again stars Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer and Andy Richter. Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple and of course, King Julien, Maurice and the Penguins are all along for the comedic adventure. Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent — Madagascar style.

Next is Rise of the Guardians, based on the forthcoming books by William Joyce and will be released on November 21, 2012. It is directed by Peter Ramsey (Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space) and co-directed by Joyce. The film is being produced by Christina Steinberg (Bee Movie, National Treasure) and Nancy Bernstein, long-time head of Production at DreamWorks Animation. Rise of the Guardians is being written by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole) and executive produced by Guillermo del Toro and Michael Siegel. It stars Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Jude Law. More than a collection of the well-known childhood legends, Rise of the Guardians is an epic adventure that tells the story of a group of heroes — each with extraordinary abilities. When an evil spirit known as Pitch lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children all over the world.

The Croods will be released on March 1, 2013. It is being written and directed by two-time Academy Award nominee Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon, Lilo and Stitch) and Kirk DeMicco (Space Chimps) and produced by Kristine Belson (How to Train Your Dragon) and Jane Hartwell (Shrek). It stars Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke and Cloris Leachman. The Croods is a comedy adventure that takes us back to a previously undiscovered era in the history of our planet known as the Croodaceous, when nature was still a work-in-progress… full of never-before- seen creatures and landscapes. Audiences will relate to the hilarious family antics as an imaginative and resourceful newcomer helps The Croods navigate their way through the fantastic world beyond their cave.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the sequel to the Academy Award-nominated original film from 2010, and will be released on June 20, 2014. It is being directed and written by Dean DeBlois (How to Train Your Dragon) and produced by Bonnie Arnold (How to Train Your Dragon). Also based on the book series by Cressida Cowell, the sequel is being executive produced by Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon) together with DeBlois. How to Train Your Dragon 2 again stars Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, TJ Miller and Kristen Wiig.

There are also three titles I don’t remember hearing of until today starting with Turbo which will be released on June 7, 2013. It is being directed by David Soren (Shark Tale), who first brought the project to the studio, and produced by Lisa Stewart (Monsters vs. Aliens). It is being written by Darren Lemke (Shrek Forever After) together with Soren. Turbo tells the story of an ordinary garden snail with an impossible dream: to become the fastest snail in the world. When a freak accident gives him extraordinary speed, Turbo sets out to try to make this dream come true.

Next is Me and My Shadow, which will be released on November 8, 2013. With this title the press release says the studio will pioneer a groundbreaking combination of both CG and traditional animation techniques seamlessly together throughout the film. The film is directed by Mark Dindal (Chicken Little, The Emperor’s New Groove) and produced by Melissa Cobb (Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2) and Teresa Cheng (Shrek Forever After, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron). It is being written by Tom Astle and Matt Ember (Get Smart). Me and My Shadow tells the story of Shadow Stan, an extremely frustrated shadow who yearns for a dynamic life but happens to be stuck with Stanley Grubb, the world’s most boring human. Finally pushed to the brink, Shadow Stan breaks the singular rule of the Shadow World — “They lead, we follow” — and takes control of Stanley!

Finally, Mr. Peabody and Sherman will be released on March 21, 2014. It is directed by Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little, The Lion King) and produced by Jason Clark (Monster House, Stuart Little) and Denise Nolan Cascino (Megamind). It is being written by Craig Wright (“United States of Tara”, “Six Feet Under”). Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey, Bullwinkle Studio’s Tiffany Ward and Classic Media’s Eric Ellenbogen are serving as executive producers on the film, which stars two-time Academy Award nominee Robert Downey Jr. Based on Jay Ward’s classic cartoon, Mr. Peabody is the world’s smartest person who happens to be a dog. He and his “pet” boy Sherman discover that someone has stolen their time traveling WABAC machine and is changing moments in history to disastrous and comical results. It’s up to this most unexpected of father-son teams to somehow put a stop to this villain before his actions destroy the space-time continuum in Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

So there you have it. DreamWorks looks to be improving themselves by bringing in the likes of Guillermo del Toro, Noah Baumbach and Robert Downey Jr. (who was originally supposed to voice a character in the studio’s lackluster Megamind).

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