It’s hard to remember now that the animation genre has become so diverse and complex, but 2001’s Shrek was just as groundbreaking for the realm of animated feature films as 1994’s Toy Story. It marked DreamWorks Animation’s first foray into the new territory of CG animated films, and spurred by his ousting from Disney Animation after overseeing films like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg set about upending the politeness and overt family friendly tone that permeated throughout the genre at the time. Shrek was a film in which kids would look at their parents puzzled as to why they were laughing—a film loaded with double entendres and in-jokes way over young ‘uns’ heads, yet still maintaining enough heart to pack an emotional punch.
The film was also a box office behemoth, grossing $484.4 million worldwide and spawning three sequels and a slew of spinoffs. And now, six years after the fourth installment Shrek Forever After, it looks as though the franchise is poised for a resurrection.
DreamWorks Animation is in the midst of being acquired by NBC Universal, and speaking at the Guggenheim TMT Symposium in New York (via THR), NBCU chief executive Steve Burke revealed that more Shrek sequels are definitely part of the studio’s plans:
NBCU has agreed to pay $3.8 billion for DreamWorks Animation, and Chris Meledandri of Illumination Entertainment, its partner in the Despicable Me film franchise, will get creative control.
“He is creatively going to try to help us figure out how to resurrect Shrek,” Burke said of Meledandri on Tuesday.
This is both good and bad news. Shrek is a highly lucrative property—its sequels made $920 million, $799 million, and $753 million respectively—with plenty of story left, but I’ll admit I’m wary of the series in Meledandri’s hands. Illumination has crafted profitable franchises of its own with Despicable Me and Minions, but the quality of those films is severely lacking, and their continuing efforts to adapt Dr. Seuss stories for the big screen got off to a bad start with the horrendous, cloying The Lorax. Admittedly Shrek the Third was pretty terrible, so it’s not like the franchise is a stranger to lesser sequels, but Katzenberg struck a specific tone for the series and I’m not exactly itching to see what the franchise looks like without his influence.
So yes, more Shrek is coming, but it may be quite different from the Shrek you’ve come to know and love.