Soria’s move comes four months after Comcast Corp. closed its $3.8 billion acquisition of DreamWorks Animation.
Arnold and Soria had been the lead producers behind the studio’s “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Madagascar” franchises. They were named co-presidents of feature animation in early 2015 when Bill Damaschke stepped down as chief creative officer, then became co-presidents of the studio after Ann Daly exited as president on the day after the Comcast acquisition closed.
Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures, said in a Dec. 12 memo to staff that Soria would be transitioning out of her executive role as the studio wrapped up its “Boss Baby” and “Captain Underpants” movies in 2017. She also said Soria would continue to produce the studio’s “Madagascar” films.
“As we are all fortunate to know firsthand, Mireille is an incredibly passionate and talented filmmaker who has contributed to the DreamWorks Animation legacy,” Langley said. “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.”
The four Madagacar movies, including spinoff “Penguins of Madagascar,” have grossed more than $2.1 billion worldwide. DreamWorks has not yet announced details on the next entry in the franchise.
Fox is releasing “The Boss Baby,” directed by Tom McGrath with a voice cast of Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow, on March 31. Fox is also handling “Captain Underpants,” based on Dav Pilkey’s children’s novel, which hits theaters on June 2. Universal will take over distribution of the DreamWorks animation movies, with “Larrikins” set for Feb. 16, 2018.
DreamWorks Animation announced on Dec. 5 that it had moved back “How to Train Your Dragon 3” to March 1, 2019. It also set “Everest,” an Oriental DreamWorks movie, for Sept. 27, 2019. Variety first reported in November that DreamWorks Animation and Universal had pulled the plug on “Croods 2.”
Here is Langley’s memo:
I am writing to let you know that Mireille has decided to return to focusing solely on producing and will be transitioning out of her executive role as Co-President as we wrap up both Boss Baby and Captain Underpants in the new year. Bonnie will remain President, with full oversight of development and production for the feature animation group.
As we are all fortunate to know firsthand, Mireille is an incredibly passionate and talented filmmaker who has contributed to the DreamWorks Animation legacy. 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.
I want to personally thank both Mireille and Bonnie for their guidance and stewardship during this time of transition. As we close out 2016, we are energized for the New Year and looking forward to accomplishing great things together in 2017.