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The animation company that was orginally a subsidiary of DreamWorks, created by Jeff Katzenberg's portion of the company (the "K" in "SKG") merging with animation studio and partner PDI. The company currently owns the rights to the DreamWorks trademarks, used under license by Paramount and Steven Spielberg's new Indian-backed DreamWorks operation. After Spielberg's previous animation studio Amblimation shut it's doors, most of its animators moved to DreamWorks too.
Katzenberg came roaring out of the gate with his new animation studio with the film, The Prince of Egypt, an animated Biblical epic meant to compete directly with Disney. Oddly, what was meant to be Dreamworks's signature animated film looks like it was made by a completely different studio entirely to people who are only familiar with the more recent Dreamworks animated films. (A fine article about the environment in which Prince was made can be read here.). Unfortunately, the lavishly budgeted, but artistically timid film (with all the religious communities it strove to appease) proved a bitter disappointment.
While this success influenced DA's tendency to be derivative, the company soon found a more creative success in partnership with Aardman Animations with Nick Park creating hailed cinema like Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit Curse Of The Were-Rabbit. Meanwhile, while DA's in-house cel animation films like Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas proved a hopeless box office cause, in part because of the typcial North American All Animation Is Disney prejudice,
Computer Animation was another story entirely. While the blatant Follow the Leader variant of Pixar's A Bugs Life, Antz, proved a surprisingly big hit in 1998, DA really came alive on its own with the smash success of Shrek in 2001. Using DA's penchant for rampant celebrity casting and for modeling the characters from their movies after the actors voicing them to the max, this film finally put DA on the map as a real competitor in the feature film market, permanently opening the door Disney largely held shut for decades.
Post-Shrek, they became known for sticking various pop culture references and crude bathroom humor into their films as well with films like Shark Tale and Madagascar, hitting its nadir in 2007 with Shrek the Third and Bee Movie all disappointing at least critically and Aardman breaking away from DA. Beginning in 2008 however, the studio grew its beard with a new crop of films arising with an greater focus on story, characters, and quality. So far, this new direction has been paying off handsomely in the box office worldwide.
Originally rivals with Disney; currently rivals with Pixar. Disney alum Jeffrey Katzenberg has, of now, produced more films in his animation studio alone than Walt Disney did when he was alive! While the quality of the films have been more inconsistent than Disney, the best of the bunch manage to reach for Disney and Pixar quality (with How to Train Your Dragon sharing a director team with Lilo and Stitch). In fact, in 2011, DWA exceeded them in critical reception with Kung Fu Panda 2 (RT 81%) and Puss in Boots (RT 82%) considered far and away superior films to Pixar's Cars 2 (RT 38%) and both were nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar while the Pixar film was shut out. Furthermore, KFP 2 outgrossed Cars 2 as well in the box office worldwide. In short, a Katzenberg dream come true that year.
However, the lower-than-expected box office performances and lowering company value in the recent years has influenced Katzenberg to back off on his previous announcement about a slew of sequels in the next decade, and may make him have second guesses about his goal of establishing another Disney Company. As it is, the company's current distribution contract with Paramount is not going to be renewed as that company's getting back into animation itself after the success of Rango while DWA will be looking for a new home while also considering the option of distributing its films itself.
- The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror VI" (1996; Technically animated by PDI prior to partnership with the company, but still a noteworthy mention)
- Antz (1998)
- The Prince of Egypt (1998)
- The Road to El Dorado (2000)
- Chicken Run (2000)
- Joseph King of Dreams (2000)
- Shrek (2001)
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)
- Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)
- Shrek 2 (2004)
- Shark Tale (2004)
- Madagascar (2005)
- Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
- Over the Hedge (2006)
- Flushed Away (2006)
- Shrek the Third (2007)
- Bee Movie (2007)
- Kung Fu Panda (2008)
- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
- Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
- How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
- Shrek Forever After (2010)
- Megamind (2010)
- Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
- Puss in Boots (2011)
- Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)
- Rise of the Guardians (2012)
- The Croods (2013)
- Turbo (2013)
- Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014)
- How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
- Penguins of Madagascar (2014)
- Home (2015)
Live Action work (Through PDI; either prior or after merging)
- AI Artificial Intelligence
- Angels in the Outfield
- The Arrival
- Batman Returns
- Broken Arrow
- Carlitos Way
- Double Dragon
- Executive Decision
- Freddys Dead the Final Nightmare (Dream Demon Animation)
- Heart and Souls
- Natural Born Killers
- The Mexican
- The videos for Michael Jackson's Black or White & Ghosts
- Minority Report
- The River Wild
- RoboCop 3
- Rookie of the Year
- Star Trek VI the Undiscovered Country
- Terminator 2: Judgement Day
- True Lies
Tropes for Dreamworks Animation
- All Animation Is Disney: All non-Pixar CGI is credited to these guys under this trope.
- And sometimes Dreamworks CGI animation is even falsely credited to Pixar, or Dreamworks' traditional animation is mistaken for Disney.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude
- Arch-Competitor: Pixar Animation Studios.
- Balloonacy: How that kid in the logo gets to the moon.
- Be Yourself: Often very important in pushing the main characters before the climax.
- Cash Cow Franchise: Being an independent company specializing in animation and hounded by unpleaseable stockholders, DWA has to develop every successful property into one. For instance the Shrek series has made over $2 Billion from the four movies alone (and that's not counting merchandising), while Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon are becoming the company's new bedrock ones.
- Celebrity Voice Actor: One of the most Egregious perpetrator of this trope. Every last one of their movies has an All-Star Cast (save for How to Train Your Dragon).
- And even How to Train Your Dragon has Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson...
- Dance Party Ending: Popularized it in animated films.
- Disneyesque: All their hand-drawn animated films.
- Dreamworks Face: Trope Namer and Codifier.
- Dueling Movies/Follow the Leader: Earlier on in their history, before they decided to go in a "light fantasy" direction to counter Pixar's more "epic" films, they were notorious for copying the template of whatever Pixar film was being developed at the same time. Examples include Antz vs. A Bugs Life and Shark Tale vs. Finding Nemo.
- Genre Shift: While of course not uncommon for a film studio, it's just a bit jarring to go from serious adaptations of biblical text to parody comedies just within the first three years. And it's also having another Genre Shift in combining "heavy" and "light" elements more effectively with Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon, creating the company's next foundation franchises to replace the Shrek series.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar
- Hans Zimmer: Produces the soundtracks for all their movies.
- Ink Suit Actor: Among the most notorious examples.
- Medium Blending: With Rough Draft Studios on The Simpsons.
- Parental Bonus: Where to start?
- Stunt Casting: A side effect of having more celebrity actors than important characters.
- Trailers Always Lie: This seems to be their modus operandi since Kung Fu Panda. The movies tend to have more substance compared to the trailers.
- Trailers Always Spoil: An Egregious case as it looks like DWA won't stop having big spoilers in their movies like the trailers for Megamind.
- Troperrific: It's no secret that the folks up at the studio are very Genre Savvy, and they seem to have gotten a better hang around using well-ingrained story tropes- star examples include Shrek (a Take That to Disney as well as an Affectionate Parody of fairy tales), Kung Fu Panda (a send-up of the Unlikely Hero and Wuxia), How to Train Your Dragon (fantasy Coming of Age Story with dragons), and Megamind (an Affectionate Parody of Superman and the superhero genre as a whole).
- What Could Have Been: They nearly got John Kricfalusi to direct for them, but after meeting the executives, he backed out.
- There are dozens of whole films that were never made. These include Punk Farm, Boo U, and Truckers.