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DreamWorks Animation Unveils New Curtain Raiser, Introduces Redesigned “Moon Child” (Exclusive)

When families settle into their seats to watch the latest release from DreamWorks Animation Puss in Boots: The Last Wishthey will be welcomed by a bunch of new but familiar faces.

To help Trumpet in its latest era, the studio unveils a new curtain raiser, which will debut nationwide during special Nov. 26 “Caturday” early screenings of the Shrek franchise sequel – ahead of its December 21 theatrical release. The dreamlike 32-second sequence highlights some of the studio’s most popular and long-running franchises before settling on its classic moon shot.

“We make dreams come alive on screen, so the idea was really that you step into the dreams of a new kid. They take you through this dreamscape and reacquaint you with these iconic figures we’ve created over the years,” said production designer Kendal Cronkhite, who helped lead the project. “The child surfs, floats and flies through these kinds of galaxies and brings all those very different looking movie characters together into one whole.”

That journey begins with one of the animation studio’s newest titles, The bad guysbefore leading viewers through character interactions in How to train your dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Boss honey and Trolls. The audience is guided across land, sea and space, ending with Shrek — the title that compares producer Suzanne Buirgy to DWA’s Mickey Mouse.

Shrek it all started with really contemporary stories, a realistic look, contemporary jokes. It was not timeless. It wasn’t classic. It was very there and now. And using celebrity voices wasn’t really done in that frequency before DreamWorks came on the scene,” says DWA president Margie Cohn of the impact of the movie-turned-franchise. “But what I love Shrek is that it is disrespectful and spoke to the outsider. It became a symbol of what could be successful – that you don’t have to play by the rules. To me, that’s a great showcase for the brand.”

Throughout the process, viewers are guided through what Cronkhite describes as a “magical” reinvention of DreamWorks’ human silhouette standing on a crescent moon. Long known as the ‘moon boy’, it has been renamed the ‘moon child’, the team said The Hollywood Reporter they took “all sorts of gender-specific things” from the original model so that the silhouette could more broadly represent the studio’s fans and young dreamers.

“We like the idea that we now have a moon child, not necessarily a moon boy, because we wanted that child to be attractive to everyone,” says Buirgy.

“At the studio we like to say all dreamers are welcome here and if you think about who the iconic dreamer is, it’s that moon child,” adds Cohn. “People wish for stars, people look to the sky for inspiration. By making them come off the moon and surf the skies, visiting new and familiar friends, you set the stage for the entertainment to come.

The animated characters themselves also undergo minor design changes, whose art styles have been tinkered with to create stronger visual continuity. That includes characters like Kung Fu Panda‘s Po, which has less fur detail, while the Shrek trio was dusted off and upgraded in light of technological advancements in animation.

“The idea was to take a simplification pass with all the characters so they look more like a graphical character in that graphical world,” Cronkhite says. “They’re going to be a little less quality so they fit better in that space.”

“We had our head of character animation, Sean Sexton, pass it all over the whole piece so there was consistency,” adds Buirgy. “Back then we actually had three animators who specialized in those characters.”

All characters are then placed against a background of 2D art, which serves as a metaphor for the material matter that connects all life and that of which dreams are made. “As humans, we all dream, so it’s part body, part magic, part REM. This is where our imagination comes from, so I wanted to have all of that in the DNA,” says Cronkhite THR.

The Curtain Raiser also offers an imaginative new twist on the studio’s longstanding fairytale musical theme, composed and adapted by Harry Gregson-Williams, who initially co-wrote the song with John Powell for Shrek. In addition to playing with speed, the theme features more strings (versus other studios’ reliance on horns and brass) to ramp up the energy and create more of a “party feel” at the end, according to Cohn.

“The music is emotional. It’s our emotional connection to DreamWorks, so the question was how to change it up a bit, make it fit visually with what was going on, but still keep that great theme,” says Buirgy. “It’s a more energetic opening than in the past.”

“I love the romantic, emotional, heartbreaking melody and I wanted to keep it instead of feeling like we’re barging in on you,” Cohn adds.

Throughout its history, the studio has played with both standardized iterations of the curtain riser (think the focus on the balloons versus the lures) and custom variants that predate movies like bee movie, Madagascar 2, Shark story, Monsters vs Aliens and megamind. Now the plan is to combine those approaches, with the studio sticking to the dream palette but leaving room to change which titles and characters appear in the “biomes.”

All – minus maybe Shrek, says Cronkhite — are expendable and could change as early as 2023, according to Cohn. “If we open another movie with these characters, we don’t necessarily want to repeat the characters that will be in the next movie, if that’s indeed what happens, so we’ve made it so they’re ‘plug and play.'” says Buirgy. “You can literally take one out and put a new character from one of our beloved franchises in place of another.”

In total, the curtain took about eight months to build and was made by a team of 10 to 12 people, with more than 40 separate hands working together, advising and contributing. That group was led by DreamWorks veterans with literally decades of experience between them: Buirgy, Cronkhite, and visual effects supervisor Matt Baer, ​​who teamed up with Matt Trull, to figure out the technical elements of turning biomes on and off, among other things. .

It arrives the same year that Cohn’s own green-lit slate begins to hit theaters and, perhaps, has come full circle, anticipating a new era of the studio’s hit. Shrek franchise that started with a more realistic CGI feel and now with its Cat in boots sequel, is an example of innovative storybook visual styling. It also debuts amid both the studio’s growing library of movie-to-TV crossover series and theatrical release challenges for movies in general.

“I feel like we’re making a really strong creative statement going forward in terms of really trying to have one franchise. But how do you actually break through the clutter of originals? So I thought it was a good time for a brand statement and to remind people why they might have come to see a DreamWorks movie,” Cohn says of the timing of the new curtain raiser’s release. “Not having a corporate identity, not choosing one character, but choosing from the diversity of characters we have in films with different tones illustrates that alternatives are welcome here.”

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