Animated Movies, DreamWorks, Reviews, Studios

DreamWorks Countdown: Conclusion

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The DreamWorks Countdown has come to an end…

What makes DreamWorks Animation SKG unique? What makes it a notable animation studio?

DreamWorks Animation SKG is one of the oldest, still-standing animation houses successfully producing feature-length films in this day and age. The DreamWorks enterprise will turn thirty in 2024. One modern studio has already passed that – Blue Sky. Blue Sky’s first feature, however, wasn’t released until fifteen years after the company was founded. DreamWorks released its first film almost exactly four years after it was established. DreamWorks’ successes – both critical and commercial – have shown that competitor studios could indeed co-exist with Disney and Pixar in a post-Renaissance animation world.

Founded in October 1994 by ex-Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg alongside Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, it was one of the few studios to stand tall after a barrage of houses were set up and swiftly shut down. DreamWorks came on the scene with a slightly different approach to features, and was also responsible for helping bring Aardman Animations’ features to the big screen. Like plenty of animation studios, it has gone through many phases and the people running the ship have taken many different directions. One can argue that DreamWorks’ output can be carved up and assigned to different eras.

Still, some 23 years later, the studio has completed and released – counting its three Aardman co-productions – 35 animated features. Walt Disney Animation Studios, founded in 1923, has 56 features in its canon. Over 25 of them have been produced since the early 1990s… DreamWorks has been through many ups and downs, and many of its stumbles have been large. Despite these struggles, DreamWorks still lives and is now owned by Comcast/NBCUniversal, which suggests that value is seen in its output and history. One can’t say the same about other animation studios that were started in the 1990s that aren’t Disney and Pixar…

Prior to DreamWorks, few filmmakers and studios had the kind of longevity Disney’s animation studio has. Don Bluth put up a great fight in the 1980s and even got features out throughout the 1990s. Ralph Bakshi had a decent-sized filmography that spanned three decades.

DreamWorks has certainly produced a large quanity of films that have delighted audiences. Some of its films have even set trends in mainstream feature animation, for better or worse. Many animation fans have named films like the original Shrek, the Kung Fu Panda trilogy, the How To Train Your Dragon adventures, The Prince of Egypt, the three Aardman movies, Captain Underpants, and many more as good quality animated cinema. Even DreamWorks’ more divisive efforts have spawned fanbases, whether it’s something like The Croods or Megamind or even something like Bee Movie! What’s also fascinating is that DreamWorks doesn’t quite have a house style, and this can definitely be attributed the fact that it’s changed direction many times. You certainly can’t say The Prince of Egypt is the same movie as Shrek or Madagascar. You can’t say Rise of the Guardians is The Croods, nor can you say Home is Kung Fu Panda. A lot of its movies use their own unique animation style and art direction, while some other studios tend to have a house style.

DreamWorks has left a large body of work, and the crew is not releasing a new picture in 2018. The last time DreamWorks didn’t release a movie in a calendar year was 1999. Why’s this? Because of the transition, they’re going from independent house to cog in the Comcast machine. What the new era will bring, we don’t quite know just yet… But it all starts March 1, 2019 with the release of How To Train Your Dragon 3

We here at Rotoscopers give many thanks to all the writers who have covered this vast amount of features, and all the editors who have helped bring their thoughts to the site. What’s exciting is that we’ve gotten a lot of new writers for this project – we hope you’ve enjoyed their unique contributions – and we certainly are excited to hear what else they have to say.

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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  • Jordan Briskin

    On the subject of DreamWorks’ standing in the field, it rather saddens me that it’s no longer an independent studio, as it was meant to be.

    Moving on to the films in the DreamWorks animated canon, I personally feel that the only time that they were really focused on creating the best films that they could, was when they were starting out, with PRINCE OF EGYPT, SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON, CHICKEN RUN, and the admittedly flawed, but still enjoyable, SINBAD and THE ROAD TO EL DORADO. From that point onward, they seem to have fallen prey to the trend of focusing mostly on commercial gain. Truth be told, I’d very much like to see DreamWorks Animation return to its roots….

    • Sebastian

      Indeed. It would be amazing to see Dreamworks do another 2D film. But now with Comcast, Chris meledandri I have no faith that Dreamworks will ever reach that level of storytelling for a long time. The only saving grace can be HTTYD3 if it hasn’t been dumbed down. However aside from golden age Dreamworks, HTTYD, KFP, PIB, ROTG & MP&S have delivered outside of the typical pop culture that was funny but not very much improvement on their storytelling. When I re-watched Spirit this week I wish they had made a movie similar to that tone in present.

      • Manuel Orozco

        I actually haven’t seen Rise of the Guardians before

        • Sebastian

          You should check it out and see what you think.

          • Manuel Orozco

            I will and I already have the movie on my DVD Netflix list. So basically I put it there because I watched the Santa Clause trilogy the week before Christmas on Netflix streaming. And the idea of Santa aka Scott being part of a Legend council with the Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost seemed a little familiar to me. The reason I never watched Rise of the Guardians in the past five years was because I was not familiar with the source material that inspired it.

  • Wanna say thanks as well to the folks here who
    wrote those articles. While DW has not made a
    lot of great movies, a lot of them are still fun to
    watch. As for the future, I honestly have no clue
    about what’ll happen to them. My gut tells me
    that their future doesn’t look that good, but I do
    hope otherwise.

  • Manuel Orozco

    Been great being part of this little throwback journey! Perhaps this was even more fun than Walt Disney Animation Studios last year

  • Alex Beezley

    I greatly enjoyed this countdown series, and I appreciate the time and effort that all of the writers put into looking back on these films. While DreamWorks has had its ups and downs over the years, all of their films, even the ones that are not particularly good, are unique in their own way. It may not be my favorite animation studio, but I admire DreamWorks for what it brings to the table.

  • This was such a fun countdown and seeing different points of views of movies I may have overlooked the first time watching but now have a new POV! Awesome job writers!! :DDD

  • Amber Dvorak

    I really enjoyed writing for this series, and thank all my fellow Roto Writers who contributed their reviews! DreamWorks is not my favorite studio, but this series did make me interested in some DW films I haven’t seen before, and gave me a new persepctive on ones I have already watched. It’s definitely interesting to look at DreamWorks’ entire catalog of films all lined up! I hope the studio continues to succeed in the future, but at the moment I’m only really cautiously looking forward to HTTYD3.

  • Happy New Year Everybody! I am looking forward to what the future has in story for all of us. I do hope that DreamWorks can last another ten years under its belt. If it can go past the 30 year mark I think it’ll have a place to stay, just as long as it keeps making great films of course. I am both excited and scared to see the conclusion of HTTYD. 2019 will be a good year I hope.

    Here’s to 2018 having a good list of animated films.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I’m excited and scared for the end of HTTYD as well.

  • Margaret Bell

    This is awesome!