Universal Pictures has tasked Meledandri with finding some fresh story lines to reintroduce the lovable ogre and the sword-wielding feline to new generations of moviegoers. One thing the animation guru doesn’t want to mess with is with the vocal performances. Part of the popularity of “Shrek” is attributable to a voice cast that included Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas, and in a lengthy profile in Variety, Meledandri says he would like to get the band back together.
“When you look back on those vocal performances they’re awesome, and while you certainly could make a case for a complete reinvention, I find myself responding to my own nostalgic feelings of wanting to go back to those characterizations,” explains Meledandri. “The challenge for us has been to find something that really does feel like it’s not simply yet another film in a series of sequels.”
The move comes after the studio’s parent company, Comcast, bought DreamWorks Animation, the studio behind “Shrek,” in 2016 for $3.8 billion. Initially, there had been speculation that Meledandri, whose Illumination Entertainment is co-owned by Universal, would be asked to oversee DreamWorks Entertainment. However, Meledandri says he came to feel that he couldn’t manage the two companies and still maintain the same level of quality in the films he makes.
“The way in which I work with my team to make movies is very intensive and hands-on, and it really doesn’t allow me the opportunity to think about running a second operation,” says Meledandri. “I love the process of making films and working with artists. I don’t think I’m particularly great at managing companies.”
Even though he hasn’t cracked the code on “Shrek,” Meledandri sounds confident that it’s only a matter of time before moviegoers get to revisit the magical fairy tale setting that made the original movies such a treat.
“There’s a tremendous amount of fun to be had in that world, but it’s a high bar to find a story that’s truly world,” said Meledandri. “You want to find something in the narrative that really feels like a departure.”
Illumination’s next film, “The Grinch,” opens in theaters on Friday.
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