Saturday, September 19, 2015

DreamWorks Slate Shuffle: 'Boss Baby' Moves Back, 'Captain Underpants' Flies Away

20th Century Fox, distributors of DreamWorks' films since 2013, has rearranged their whole movie slate. Two DreamWorks films have been moved...

The first of which is Boss Baby, the romp based on the children's book of the same name. The film, up until now, was set to open on January 13, 2017. Now it's set to open on March 10, 2017. Another DreamWorks film had that slot...

Captain Underpants.

The film has been delayed indefinitely. It's in that rather uncertain "TBD" phase...

This comes as no surprise, because the film lost its director back in March. Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens, Goosebumps) was set to direct it, with Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets) writing the script. No replacement was announced since, though it was implied that Turbo director David Soren would be the one to get the gig. Maybe he is the current director, but I didn't see that get announced anywhere.

Captain Underpants is also interesting because when DreamWorks whittled down their release slate at the beginning of this year, Captain Underpants went from in-house production to co-production. The film will be mainly produced by Canadian studio Mikros Image for a significantly lower cost. DreamWorks' main in-house films, starting with Trolls, will cost $120 million. I liked this idea a lot, actually: Two big-scale DreamWorks films every year, and a smaller - possibly experimental - film in-between. I had suggested it many months before DWA revised their entire slate.

Now that it doesn't have a release date, it's possible that the project may go the way of the dodo... Or the way of scrapped DreamWorks projects like Monkeys of Mumbai. (A film I'd rather see than Trolls and Boss Baby, but I digress...) I think for the time being this is a good thing, for DreamWorks is still on their slow road to recovery and perhaps a third movie release in 2017 isn't a great idea at the moment. Perhaps focusing on the main stuff (Boss Baby and The Croods 2) is better for them until they get it together.

It's also surprising to me that Fox still hasn't moved Trolls out of the 11/4/2016 slot. As I said a few articles back, opening it - a $120 million family film that probably has to make over $300-350 million worldwide to be a success for the recovering studio - against guaranteed Marvel smash Doctor Strange is a bad idea. Mid-October would be a much better place for this film. If it looks good to parents, I guess they won't be in too much trouble, since that's the audience Jeffrey Katzenberg is after rather than the whole smorgasbord that any family-friendly animation studio should go after. I argue the studio should aim higher, but that's another rant for another day.

Then again it took Fox/DreamWorks forever to announce a good release date for Kung Fu Panda 3. For many months it was set to open five days after Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which obviously would've crushed it. Late in the game (as in, roughly a year before Force Awakens' opening) they finally moved Kung Fu Panda 3 to a better slot. (First it was 3/18/2016, now it's 1/29/2016.) I suspect  in a few months we'll get a new and better release date for Trolls. Like I said, mid-October. Maybe now that Boss Baby has moved, it'll go to 1/13/2017.

Anyways. The current slate...

01/29/2016 - Kung Fu Panda 3
11/04/2016 - Trolls
03/10/2017 - Boss Baby
12/22/2017 - The Croods 2
Q1 2018 - Untitled Oriental DreamWorks Film
02/16/2018 - Larrikins
06/29/2018 - How To Train Your Dragon 3

What do you think of these decisions? Where would you slot Trolls? Sound off below!


  1. Dreamworks should not release 3 films a year since it is growding the animation market and it is not as if this looked a very promising project so this is good news. Dreamworks canceles maybe too many projects however, it is bad for publicity and if they cancel projects late it might cost money and be frustrating for the people who worked on the project. Captain Underpans was not that late in production but still, the amount of TBD films in Dreamworks animations Box Office Mojo page is so much.

    Doctor Strange might draw some family audience true, but animated films can still deal with live-action films if the film is promising. The date Trolls had not is worth much more than avoiding Strange since it is close to holidays that can help the films leggs. Anx Doctor Strange probably will probbaly make something between 160-200M so I do not think will be a huge box office juggernaut that will crush everything around it.
    I am more concerned with how close Trolls is to Moana. They are similar type of female led adventure films with music. If Kung Fu Panda 3 had the Trolls date and vice versa it might be better for all films.

    1. Now I don't think 'Doctor Strange' will be a "juggernaut", it could still steal some family audiences should 'Trolls' not look that good from the marketing, which could very well happen. I'd rather it be moved to a much more breathable spot, especially a good distance from 'Moana'. If it is to open low (say, $35m), it would need lots of room in order to get past an acceptable $150m stateside, hence me suggesting Oct 2016 or 1/13/2017.