DreamWorks Animation comes to the Annecy Animation Festival again on a wave of success: last spring, despite the pandemic and theater closures, “Trolls World Tour” hit a limited number of venues but really hit big on-demand, while “Croods: A New Age” reaped pent-up demand at theaters in the fall and winter as venues opened around the world. Its TV animation unit boasts buzzy hits such as “Trollhunters,” “Tales of Arcadia: Wizards” and “3Below: Tales of Arcadia” from Guillermo del Toro, “Voltron Legendary Defender,” “She-Ra,” “Spirit Riding Free” as well as spinoffs from “Madagascar,” “Fast and Furious,” “Kung Fu Panda” and ‘How to Train Your Dragon.”
This year at Annecy, DreamWorks is showcasing “Spirit Untamed,” “The Boss Baby: Family Business” and “Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans.” All works will be the focus of panels at Annecy, with del Toro leading the “Titans.”
“We’ve been going to Annecy for years,” says DreamWorks Animation president Margie Cohn, who adds that because it’s dedicated to global animation, the fans and industryites there know the value of a project, really understand what goes into making it and it’s a real “celebration of the art.”
Not to mention the natural beauty of the setting, she notes. “Plus you’re meeting students, you’re meeting directors, you’re meeting just fans, you’re meeting other industry executives.”
And it’s valuable to have a place where the world’s animation community — and it’s not that large — can come together.
“Our recruiting team goes [to Annecy] and we do a lot of portfolio reviews. So we are actually looking for artists and at the same time, we do a lot of networking. And you could stay in your bubble, even your Hollywood bubble, but then when you go to Annecy, it’s a worldwide community. So you are very stimulated by things coming out of other countries that you may not have known about,” she says.
“Boss Baby: Family Business,” sequel to 2017’s $175 million-grossing “The Boss Baby” brings back Alec Baldwin in the titular role for another adventure, to be released July 2 in U.S. theaters, and streaming on Peacock. Director Tom McGrath is also back. And you could say that for McGrath and Cohn, showcasing their “Baby” at Annecy is like coming home, having unveiled the first toon there in 2016.
“It is relentlessly funny, but it also is beautiful,” Cohn says, noting that the film “has these fantasy sequences that look different than the rest of the movie. [McGrath] loves traditional cartoons. And so even though it’s CG, it has a lot of the [elements] of a squash and stretch comedy. It’s really kind of amazing what they can do with the characters. And, you know, a lot of that has to do with the animators and the technologists at Dreamworks — give them a challenge and they’re all in.”
At Annecy, del Toro will lead a panel with executive producer Chad Hammes, and directors Andrew L. Schmidt, Francisco Ruiz Velasco and Johane Matte on the anticipated film “Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans,” the capstone of the “Tales of Arcadia” trilogy.
Cohn says that they will also be at Annecy supporting “The Croods: A New Age,” which begin its big-screen European journey in June. “The film released in November, but it’s still rolling out in France on July 7,” she says, as well as a panel for “Spirit Untamed.”