–With his contract recently extended until 2013 and “Monsters Vs. Aliens” one of the year’s top grossing films so far, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has now revealed plans to release five feature films every two years, adding an additional film every other year to its existing two picture a year release schedule.
With today’s news, DWA’s release slate through 2012 now includes eight feature films, including five original films and three sequels based on the company’s existing franchises, Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. And as previously announced, all DWA features will be produced in 3D.
This commitment to 3D content should come as good news for stakeholders, but it could also mean added pressure on theater owners to install digital cinema and 3D capabilities, as well as on those working to advance 3D for the home market.
DWA’s schedule includes:
—“How to Train Your Dragon,” based on the book by Cressida Cowell, will be released on March 26, 2010. It will star a cast that includes Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
—“Shrek Forever After” will be released on May 21, 2010. It features the original cast, including Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas.
—“Oobermind” (formerly “Master Mind”) will be released on November 5, 2010. It will star Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey.
—“Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom” will be released on June 3, 2011. Returning is a voice cast that includes Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross.
—“The Guardians” (working title), based on the forthcoming books by William Joyce, will be released on November 4, 2011.
—“Puss In Boots” (working title) will be released on March 30, 2012 and star Antonio Banderas as Puss In Boots and Salma Hayek as Kitty, Puss’ love interest.
–The next Madagascar sequel is due to be released on May 25, 2012. It will find the zoo animals continuing to get back to New York. This time the road takes them through Europe.
–On Nov. 2, 2012, DWA plans to release one of three original projects currently in pre-production at the studio.
–There is more on this news announcement in a Reuters article, reporting that Katzenberg spoke yesterday at the Cowen and Co. Technology and Media and Telecom Conference and predicted that he could get its production budgets down to $130 million (including 3D) for the 2011 films. (“Monsters Vs. Aliens” was estimated to cost $175 million.) The Reuters article also said that Katzenberg expects a positive shift it distribution costs, come 2012 when DWA’s distribution contract with Paramount expires.
–In related box office news, at press time DWA’s debut 3D title “Monsters Vs. Aliens” is just shy of an impressive $194 million in the domestic box office—the highest grossing digital 3D release to date. It had also been the biggest money maker of the year so far, but today it was just passed by the Starship Enterprise. “Star Trek” reached $194.8 million. “Monsters” will surrender the majority of 3D screens this weekend to Disney/Pixar’s “Up.”
—Dolby announced new 3D installations this week: The Empire Leicester Square in London has become Europe’s first auditorium to use the new Dolby 3D Digital Cinema large screen system.
The company reported that the new Dolby 3D large screen solution combined with Barco’s digital cinema twin-projector allows exhibitors to project Dolby 3D onto standard, non-silver screens ranging from 12.5 to 21 metres, surpassing the previous size limit of 12 metres. The Empire Leicester Square, one of the UK’s oldest and largest cinema venues, offers a 20-metre screen.
In related news, Dolby reported that Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco has installed Dolby 3D Digital Cinema in its 160-seat auditorium, in time for Disney/Pixar’s “Up” opening.
–Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release director Henry Selick’s stop-motion animated feature “Coraline” on Blu-ray Hi-Def combo pack, 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD and single disc DVD on July 21.
All editions feature both the 2-D and 3-D versions of the film and four pairs of 3-D glasses, making “Coraline” the next 3D home release to watch. In theatres, digital 3D release “Coraline” made $75. 2 million in North America and $85.2 million worldwide.