TORONTO -- Kicking off their new partnership in high style, 20th Century Fox has dated a dozen DreamWorks Animation movies through the middle of 2016 -- marking the most ambitious slate for an animation house in Hollywood history.
The 12 DWA films include newly announced B.O.O: Bureau of Otherwordly Operations, set to hit theaters on Nov. 6, 2015, and How to Train Your Dragon 3, dated for June 18, 2016, and returning Dean DeBlois in the directors' chair.
The Seth Rogen-voiced Bureau of Otherworldly Operations is based on an original idea by Tony Leondis (Igor), who is directing the ghost pic. It is produced by Maryann Garger (Flushed Away) and the screenplay is being written by Tom Wheeler (Puss in Boots).
"This is the moment when we can declare that we will have three films a year going forward on a continuing basis," DWA chief creative officer Bill Damaschke said in an interview with THR. And, in the case of 2015, there will be four titles.
"Everyone of the movies in our lineup – whether it is an original film or a sequel to one of our beloved franchises – comes from the unique and special vision of our filmmakers, and we look forward to joining together with Fox to make them available to family audiences starting next year," Damaschke said.
The other titles and dates are: The Croods (March 22, 2013), Turbo (July 19, 2013), Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Nov. 1, 2013), Me and My Shadow (March 14, 2014), How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 20, 2014), Happy Smekday! (Nov. 26, 2014), The Penguins of Madagascar (March 27, 2015), Trolls (working title, June 5, 2015), Mumbai Musical (working title, Dec. 19, 2015) and Kung Fu Panda 3 (March 18, 2016).
Fox's upcoming in-house animation slate includes Epic (May 24, 2013), Rio 2 (April 14, 2014).
While DWA's movies themselves have been in the works for years, Jeffrey Katzenberg's company held back on dating many of them -- or even revealing some of them, in the case of B.O.O. and Dragon 3 -- until it knew who its new distribution partner would be upon ending its deal with Paramount at the end of this year.
That new partner is Fox, which has its own successful animation operation in Fox Animation Studios and Blue Sky Studios. The addition of DWA movies to its pipeline gives the studio enviable leverage in the family market.
"When I look at these movies, I am so proud because they are the results of years of work. This last year, while we waited to find out who our new partner would be, we could have targets for them. It was fantastic to be finally be able to sit down with Fox and date them. We've come up with a great release plan," Damaschke said.
The only other year when DreamWorks Animation has had three titles was in 2010 (How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever After and Megamind. This year, the company has two, summer 2012 tentpole Madgascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and Rise of the Guardians, in theaters Nov. 21.
"It's unprecendented for any studio to do three animated films in a year and they've been gearing up for some time," Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman-CEO Jim Gianopulos said.
He and fellow Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman-CEO Tom Rothman added: “We have had the privilege not only to view many of these films in their various stages but also to meet the incredible leadership teams behind each one, and we are very confident about DreamWorks Animation’s robust future slate."
Fox's 2012 summer tentpole Ice Age: Continental Drift is the No. 3 grossing film of the year, earning north of $840 million to date.
Tatiana Siegel contributed to this report.