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