Cannes: DreamWorks Animation Celebrates 20 As 'Dragon 2′ Breathes Fire On The Fest

Among other things, Cannes this year might as well be called the Jeffrey Katzenberg International Film Festival. He’s had his cast and starCannes2014_badge dragon from How To Train Your Dragon 2 cruising the Croisette looking for paparazzi — and finding them. He’s had his cast, including new Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, working the press. He’s celebrating in style the 20th anniversary of DreamWorks Animation here with a gala World Premiere screening in a prime Friday night Out Of Competition slot in the Grand Lumiere Theatre, where fest topper Thierry Fremaux broke all precedent at this by-the-book festival and personally000_dv1727981 introduced the film and its players. DWA threw a big bash at Baoli beach featuring a special exhibit of concept art with more than 100 pieces from the film — and the weather cooperated. Perfect night on the Cote d’Azur. On Saturday at noon at the Palais, Katzenberg will be the recipient of a rare Commander of Arts honor presented by the French Minister Of Culture. And best of all he’s getting tons of worldwide publicity in advance of the June 6 launch of the sequel to one of DWA’s biggest hits, and one I think should be a major Best Animated Feature Oscar contender. It really manages to top the 2010 first film in terms of heart, laughs, action and pure exhilaration. And it won a major ovation at its official screening Friday. On top of all that, Katzenberg’s “date” for Saturday’s Vanity Fair party at Hotel du Cap is Harvey Weinstein. Yes, they are going together. “I told him he will be the missus — Mr. and Mrs. Katzenberg,” he laughed.

Related:
Cannes 2014: A Look At Hot Titles; Was It Over Before We Got Here And Paramount Made Record Deal?
Harvey Weinstein Defends Actions On ‘Grace Of Monaco’

How-to-train-Your-Dragon_320Fremaux’s remarks were pretty extraordinary as he himself acknowledged the rare breaking of tradition. In introducing a special reel highlight “DWA At 20,” he said, “It is under rather exceptional circumstances that I come up onstage this evening, as DreamWorks Animation is 20 years old this year, and it is an anniversary we would like to celebrate,” he said. Fremaux then recalled his first encounter with Katzenberg, who first called him more than a decade ago and suggestedhow-to-train-your-dragon-2-00136-Cannes-2014-Photo-Nick-Wall_rgb-560x373 that perhaps he would like to consider an animated film for Cannes – an almost unheard of idea at the time. Shrek screened in Competition in 2001, and the rest is history. Fremaux expressly thanked him as DWA has been back on the Croisette many times since. “These moments of cinema, of laughter, of emotion, of friendship, we owe to one man, who I have the pleasure to welcome tonight — Jeffrey Katzenberg! Jeffrey is American animation. I agree. 20 more years, Jeffrey — 20 more years of animation cinema in Cannes, ” he said.

Related: Cannes: Paramount Confirms ‘Story Of Your Life’ Acquisition; $20 Million Is Fest Record Deal

How To Train Your Dragon 2 was very well received, and early reviews were upbeat. DWA won the first Animated Feature Oscar with Shrek but has been largely FranceCannesHowtoTrainYourDragon2PhotoCall-09b76overshadowed by Pixar and Disney ever since. Could this be the year? “Come on, Pete, it’s only May,” Katzenberg said when I brought up the subject of Oscar at the afterparty. There’s no question the first Dragon would have won were it not for the Pixar juggernaut of Toy Story 3, which also had a Best Picture nomination and was impossible to beat. That year was an embarrassment of riches. This year, for the first in a long while, Pixar isn’t in the game, and this Cannes launch will bring a lot of attention to the quality of the new film. Can a sequel win? Obviously yes, since it was a second sequel to Toy Story that beat Dragon in 2010. But Katzenberg, clearly in a great mood, just wanted to focus on the moment right now in France and what Cannes means for him and the film. “This is such a fantastic platform,” he said. “You have the entertainment media from all over the world here at one place and one time. We’re able to bring our whole cast together from around the world.”

And will there be a third ‘Dragon’ down the line?  Producer Bonnie Arnold who has now brought in the first two  says they just finished this one two weeks ago and this was the very first screening of the final finished film. “We just made it. As for a  third we have talked about it and hopefully planning on it but Jeffrey said this about this early on. ‘You have to make the movie the best, most satisfying that you can and we’ll figure out what comes next’, ”  she said.

  1. Why in the world do studios spend so much money to take an animated film to Cannes? It is the height of ridiculousness. From a marketing perspective, it does NOTHING for their film; it does not reach the target audience, it makes barely a ripple in the mainstream media, and the impact on box office is absolutely zilch. Perhaps from an investment standpoint, it helps raise the profile of the studio’s executives, but that’s about it. It is a perfect example of how Hollywood wastes millions of dollars on needless activity that has no benefit to a film — and, in fact, ends up adding to inflated marketing costs. Given that Katzenberg has been through the wringer on this lately, you would HOPE he would have learned his lesson about spending needless money (Cannes costs at least $1 million for all participants and activities) profligately.

  2. Are you one of those people who think animated films are just “kiddie stuff?” I do agree that Hollywood doesn’t need to spend so much money promoting mainstream movies at Cannes, which it has been doing for years. However, animation is a more serious business than what you seem to be claiming. Cannes has played small, non-mainstream animated films in the past too. In the case with HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2, the first movie earned acclaim, an Oscar nomination, and was a B.O. hit. (After all, it showed that DreamWorks Animation was capable of “serious” stories, instead of sticking to its usual comedic formulas.) Perhaps the sequel deserved a warm welcome at Cannes. By the way, I hated when MADAGASCAR 2 or something played at Cannes one year, because I thought the first movie was the epitome of a plotless movie with stupid talking animals made solely to make money.

    1. News flash: all movies are made solely to make money. Except possibly for everything Woody Allen makes.

      1. He’s talking about whenever a movie comes off as a labor of love, or a complete cynical cash grab.

  3. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT IS IN THE ANIMATION WORKS FOR THE WEEKLY SERIES DRAGONS OF BERK. I HAVEN’T SEEN ANYTHING IN WEEKS DID THEY KILL THE CARTOON SERIES AND ARE JUST FOCUSING ON THE MOVIE. I ENJOYED WATCHING WEEKLY DRAGONS OF BERK. PLEASE BRING BACK THE WEEKLY SERIES WITH NEW DRAMAS FOR HICCUP AND THE REST OF THE CREW.

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,236 other followers