Friday, December 10, 2010

Katzenberg Planning 6 ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Movies

This past summer, DreamWorks Animation closed the book on Shrek, putting the once lovable green ogre out of his unhappiness with Shrek Forever After, the fourth fairy tale adventure in the studio’s highest-grossing franchise. The widely popular series, which grossed $1.27 billion theatrically in the U.S. alone, seeded two holiday DVDs, a Broadway musical, and an upcoming Puss in Boots spin-off, but the big, bad Shrek only lasted for four features.

Which is why it’s a shock that Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of DreamWorks and CEO of DreamWorks Animation, believes Kung Fu Panda, easily the next big thing at the cartoon production house, will make bigger into six individual chapters?

Speaking with Empire about Madagascar 3, Katzenberg said, “Kung Fu Panda actually has 6 chapters to it, and we’ve charted that out over the years. How To Train Your Dragon is at least three: maybe more, but we know there are a least three chapters to that story. There are in fact 8 books.”
I love KFP and I’m all for planning ahead (make a list before you go to the store!), but plotting out six sequels before a second is even in theaters is absurd and underscores the “dollar first” model of DreamWorks Animation versus the “story first” mentality of its closest competitor, Pixar though they have curved some to the pressure of sequels recently.

DreamWorks Animation defenders will cry out, “But it’s a business! It has to turn a profit and answer to shareholders!” Of course it does, and sequels are a proven way to take advantage of on a brand audiences have responded to before. But that argument/cop out doesn’t hold water when DWA’s “How to Train Your Kung Fu Shrek” is compared to the regular output of original, successful content at Pixar, or Disney Animation in its heyday.

The studio isn’t putting all its eggs in Po’s proverbial bowl of noodles, although. Maybe in response to raised eyebrows over Katzenberg’s master plan, DWA formally proclaimed it will bring Me and My Shadow to the screen in 2013. According to the press release (via ComingSoon), the original concept will unite hand-drawn and CGI animation into a 3D feature about “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.” Until Shadow Stan breaks the one rule (”they lead, we follow”) and takes control of Stanley.

It sounds talented. Maybe even seven sequels promising. But is it original? Aside from the obvious Peter Pan reference, “Me and My Shadow” is a song written in 1927 by Al Jolson, Billy Rose, and Dave Dreyer (then later famously performed by Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.) about a man and his shadow. I wish them the best on this non-sequel.


Post a Comment