Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Co-Pilot Exits: Mireille Soria No Longer Co-President of DreamWorks

It looks like more changing and reshuffling is occurring at DreamWorks Animation, now that Comcast owns them and Universal oversees them...

Prior to being named President of DreamWorks Animation alongside producing veteran Bonnie Arnold, Soria has quite a history for herself. After years of live-action work, the ill-fated hand-drawn DreamWorks film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was Soria's first producing gig for the studio, and she went to produce Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, all the Madagascar films, and Home.

In January of 2015, DreamWorks experienced major setbacks after a rough few years of box office disappointments. Over 500 animators were let go, the jam-packed movie slate was condensed, sister studio Pacific Data Images got shuttered, and some upper management folk like Bill Damaschke and Ann Daly were out. Soria and Arnold were named presidents of DreamWorks Animation during this time, and after the Comcast acquisition, they would be the ones to answer to the Universal executives.

DreamWorks is currently without a CEO, a leader akin to their former CEO/founder Jeffrey Katzenberg. Instead of finding another one, or a John Lasseter/Chris Meledendri-type, DreamWorks has opted to simply take the orders from the globe. I assume this is a "for now" kind of thing, but you never know.

Soria is now stepping down from the position, leaving Ms. Arnold alone. She'll remain a producer of future DreamWorks pictures, and curiously, future Madagascar installments. Per a statement by Universal Pictures' chairman Donna Langley, "she has shepherded a successful slate of films during her tenure at the studio, including the Madagascar franchise, of which she will continue to be involved as a producer."

So this confirms that the fourth Madagascar entry is still on. Now, prior to January 2015, Madagascar 4 was actually on DreamWorks' slate with an inked release date. She was, according to many sites, attached as director! When the slate was whittled down, it was one of the pictures that got axed... But from that slate, not for good. It's very possible that a fourth film will still happen sometime down the line, and it's also possible that she will direct it. If not, then I assume the originators Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath will helm it.

That being said, DreamWorks was given the go-head by Universal to terminate The Croods 2 this past autumn. A sequel to a hit original that made $187 million domestically and nearly $600 million worldwide. It's possible that DreamWorks may or may not move forward with the zoo gang if they're not up for another round, regardless of how well the past installments - barring spin-off Penguins of Madagascar - performed. We shall see...

Ms. Soria departs once Captain Underpants, due out on June 2nd, wraps up.

What say you?

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