Curtains for Shrek marks challenge for DreamWorks

Wed May 19, 2010 7:59pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Shrek has done a lot for DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc and as the lovable ogre undergoes a mid-life crisis in his latest movie outing, the studio is looking for ways to replicate his success.

"Shrek Forever After," which opens on Friday, is billed as the fourth and final film in the animated Shrek franchise.

If the green ogre voiced by comedian Mike Myers is showing any signs of wear, it may be reflected in forecasts from some analysts that the movie might open below expectations.

DreamWorks is as dependent on franchises as any Hollywood studio in this age of big budget movies and, with the curtain coming down on Shrek, the company increasingly will have to rely on its three other franchises to keep growing.

In a conference call with analysts last month, DreamWorks chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg called "Shrek Forever After" one of the "most highly anticipated movies of 2010."

He added that the company's "growing stable of franchises will continue to generate value at the box office and beyond for many years to come."

But so far, those franchises -- "Kung Fu Panda," "Madagascar" and "How to Train Your Dragon" -- have failed to match Shrek, with its stellar DVD sales, merchandise licensing, touring stage show and California theme park attraction.

"Shrek made DreamWorks. You might think that DreamWorks made Shrek, but it's really the other way around," said analyst Barton Crockett of Lazard Capital Markets.   Continued...

<p>Jeffrey Katzenberg (L), CEO of Dreamworks Animation, and Mike Mitchell, director of "Shrek Forever After", pose for Reuters in Los Angeles, May 10, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>