Surprisingly Interesting Behind-The-Scenes Stories About DreamWorks Movies

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Vote up the most interesting details about the making of DreamWorks films.

For the longest time, one of the few studios producing quality animated entertainment was Walt Disney. Granted, several smaller studios have knocked it out of the park, including the likes of Rankin/Bass, Hanna-Barbera, Don Bluth Animation, and several others. While those studios managed to carve out a reasonably nice niche in the market, they never grew to the point that they consistently produced high-earning franchises.

That all changed when DreamWorks Animation came into the world in 1998 with the release of The Prince of Egypt. Now, that film didn't do remarkably well, but you've probably heard of the one that followed: ShrekShrek became a massive hit in a very short time, and it's spawned sequels and spin-offs that continue to do well more than 20 years after the first movie was released. Since then, the studio has launched Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, The Croods, and a whole lot more to make it a powerful player in the world of feature-length animated films.

Because almost all of DreamWorks' movies have been created via CGI, there's a lot that happens behind the scenes that few fans know. There are tons of interesting facts and stories about the nuances of the animation process, but it doesn't stop there. Changes in casting, failed projects, and everything else you can imagine has happened behind the scenes of nearly every DreamWorks picture, and the best of those stories are included below. Take a look, and don't forget to upvote your favorite BTS facts about DreamWorks movies before you go binge all the Shrek films for the hundredth time!

  • 1
    37 VOTES

    Guillermo del Toro Was A Consultant On ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’

    Thousands of people come together to make a movie, and most of the time, viewers never know their names. Granted, they could watch the credits, but not a lot of people do that outside of waiting around for a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to end. As a result, all the people who work tirelessly to entertain folks around the world often go by without anyone outside their field knowing their accomplishments. Still, there's another reason people should watch the credits.

    Every so often, a familiar name will scroll by, leaving fans to wonder, "How did that person become involved with this movie?" That's likely what many thought when they saw Guillermo del Toro's name scroll by at the end of Kung Fu Panda 2. In an interview with Den of Geek, Jennifer Yuh explained that it was del Toro who gave her and her staff the confidence they needed to make the movie:

    He came in right in the middle of the miserable middle, when we were very tired, and second-guessing stuff. And he came in and said, "You’re second-guessing yourself!" He gave us that boost of confidence to stop doubting the vision of the movie.

    37 votes
  • 2
    131 VOTES

    Failed Animators At DreamWorks Were Sent To Work On ‘Shrek’ As A Sort Of Punishment

    Shrek is arguably one of the most successful non-Disney animated franchises, having earned over $2 billion. However, it might surprise you to learn that the studio wasn't always supportive of the project. When Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen formed DreamWorks in 1996, Shrek was thought of as the "ugly stepchild" of the fledgling studio's animation wing. Few thought it would ever be made, it was given a relatively small budget, and when it came time to staff it with animators, only the ones who had failed on other projects were assigned to work on Shrek.

    The film that DreamWorks was betting its money on was The Prince of Egypt, so anyone who wasn't cutting it on that project was moved to what the animators called "the Gulag." One animator noted that "if you failed on Prince of Egypt, you were sent to the dungeons to work on Shrek." It was called being "Shreked." The production crew constantly changed for Shrek, including the writers, directors, and animators, so it wasn't given much hope. In the end, Shrek took home the very first Academy Award for best animated feature, while The Prince of Egypt flopped.

    131 votes
  • 3
    34 VOTES

    Bryan Cranston (Vitaly The Tiger), Unlike His Co-Stars In ‘Madagascar 3,’ Did Not Need A Voice Coach For His Foreign Accent

    The Madagascar films have never been hurting for talented voice actors, and they consistently cast exceptional people to bring their characters to life. For the third film in the franchise, several characters required European accents. Stefano and Gia are both Italian, so they needed to be portrayed by actors who could convincingly manage those linguistic hurdles.

    Martin Short and Jessica Chastain both had to work with an Italian vocal coach to nail their roles, but not every actor had to work that way. Bryan Cranston was cast to play Vitaly the Tiger, who needed to have a Russian accent. Director Eric Darnell explained to Entertainment Weekly that "Bryan came in, and we said, 'Tell us what a big Russian tiger would sound like.' He read a couple of pages, and it was like, wow, that's it!" So Cranston didn't need any help getting his accent just right for the character because he managed it naturally without any assistance.

    34 votes
  • 4
    30 VOTES

    Jay Baruchel’s Sloppiness Might Have Inspired Hiccup’s Beard In ’How to Train Your Dragon 3’

    The first two How to Train Your Dragon films featured a Hiccup without any facial hair. That was partly due to the character's age and the overall design of Hiccup, but things changed for the third film in the franchise. Hiccup was shown with a glorious beard, and while you might think that was all about showing the character's age, it wasn't entirely the reason the animators decided to skip shaving for Hiccup in the film.

    Jay Baruchel spoke with Entertainment Weekly to promote the movie, and he was asked if he would grow out his beard to look like Hiccup:

    [Laughs] I love it! Actually, I suspect [he has one] because, in 90 percent of the recording sessions, Dean saw me on Skype with a beard. One of the things I love most about voice recording is that I don’t have to wear makeup and put on other people’s clothes and have a bunch of people staring at me, so I just look like me on my nights off, and so maybe this is just a function of my narcissism and vanity, but I like to think I had a beard long enough that eventually, they thought, "Oh, maybe Hiccup could have one, too."

    30 votes
  • 5
    26 VOTES

    William Joyce, Author Of The Book ‘Rise of the Guardians’ Is Based On, Tossed A Coin To Decide If The Tooth Fairy Would Be Male Or Female

    The Tooth Fairy has most often been depicted as a woman since she started popping up in fairy tales centuries ago. There are some notable exceptions to this unwritten rule, including Art LaFleur in The Santa Clause 2 and Dwayne Johnson in Tooth Fairy. Outside of those examples, pretty much every depiction of the tooth-loving fairy has been female, and that's how the character is depicted in Rise of the Guardians.

    The interesting thing about that is that it could have gone either way. In the film, the Tooth Fairy is a half-human, half-hummingbird collector of teeth, and the author of the book, William Joyce, struggled with the character's gender for a long time, as he explained to Entertainment Weekly: "I spent about a year asking people is the Tooth Fairy a boy or a girl? It was surprisingly split almost 50/50, like tossing a coin. So I went ahead and tossed the coin myself and said, 'It's a girl.'"

    26 votes
  • 6
    26 VOTES

    Technology To Create The Flood Scene In ‘Antz’ Was Developed By A Visual Effects Crew Member As His Doctoral Thesis

    As CGI techniques were being created in the late 1990s, animators found themselves having to create things that hadn't been done before. Some of the most challenging things to animate via computer back then were hairs and liquids. The animators of Antz luckily didn't have to worry about hair or fur, but they did have to animate water for the flood scene in the final act of the film. It may seem fairly simple looking back decades later, but it was no easy task at the time.

    To animate the water, a water simulation program had to be developed. Fortunately, Nick Foster created one for his doctoral thesis while working on his degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Ken Bielenberg, the effects supervisor on Antz, noted, "What's great about Nick's system is that he focused on the needs for animation, not on making it 100% physically accurate."

    Foster explained, "The basis of my thesis was that in computer animation, we had height fields that could behave like water but could never splash, or we had particle systems that could have full-3D motion but didn't look like water. Our concentration was to try to get the total freedom of real water and to calculate it fast enough to put it together for a three-minute sequence in a film." Foster's system was able to simulate fluid dynamics to accelerate production for what would have otherwise taken weeks to accomplish.

    26 votes