Eras of DreamWorks Animation

Since everyone knows I pay more attention to DreamWorks more than most people, I have dedicated another blog to them. but this time, it is to dissect the eras of the company. The eras in WDAS and even Pixar have been discussed to death, but once again, never DreamWorks. After looking through the canon, it is pretty easy to divide it into eras.

Pioneer/Experimental Era

This era is the easiest one to group together, because this is when the company was at its most creative and ballsy. Most of these films received strong critical reception, though many of them were financial flops.

Topics such as religion, sexuality, and dictatorship was touched upon in this era, and there was a lot of mature content in pretty much all of the films in this era. This was during the late 1990s and the early 2000s, so traditional animation was still in the mix. These films consisted of traditional animation, CGI, and stop motion, since the studio was still trying to figure out what worked for them. Even in this era, there was an emphasis on lowbrow humor, though it was much more toned down in this era. The films in this era consist of:

  • Antz
  • The Prince of Egypt
  • The Road to El Dorado
  • Chicken Run
  • Shrek
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas

Transitional Period#1

Consists of the more commercial aspects of the company that would be known for, but there is still the more creative aspect from the first era. These three films are also the last films to be distributed by SKG, before Paramount took over distribution.

  •  Shrek 2
  • Shark Tale
  • Madagascar

The next era is what I would like to call the Paramount Era, which lasted from 2005-2012, but these eras can easily be divided in half, kind of like how the Disney Renaissance is divided into two halves. Overall, there was a large case of sequel-itis in this era, but what splits them apart is that there was a decrease in financial and critical reception for the first half, while both seemed to have improved in the second half.

Commercial Era

This half of the Paramount era consists of DreamWorks focusing on CGI animation altogether, and the fallout of the partnership with Aardmin Animationsm, which results in the loss of stop motion in DreamWorks. A lot less emphasis on quality and creativity, and more emphasis on pop culture jokes, trying to replicate what made them successful, and to be “in the in”. Sequels started to become a pattern that was inserted in this era, and creating another franchise was what the company was hoping for at this time. Financial and critical success was a hit or miss.

  • Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  • Over the Hedge
  • Flushed Away
  • Shrek the Third
  • Bee Movie

Resurgence era

The name of this half of the Paramount era is very much a stretch, but it is one of the most creative and successful eras. Financial success was a lot more consistent, and they were able to take more creative risks when they tried to make them. Some of the films were still nothing to ride home about, but there was a lot more effort, and it was definitely getting noticed by critics and audiences alike. Sequels and franchise-itis continued throughout the era.

  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
  • Monsters vs. Aliens
  • How to Train Your Dragon 
  • Shrek Forever After 
  • Megamind 
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 
  • Puss in Boots 
  • Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted 

Transitional Era #2

A new deal with 20th Century Fox emerges as the Paramount distrbution deal expires, and the studio starts to transition in the period of financial flops, and an inconsistent critical reception.

  • Rise of the Guardians
  • The Croods

Dark Age/20th Century Fox Era

The era continues the deal with 20th Century Fox, which ends at the end of the era, due to issues with marketing, and continuance of underperforming films, and financial flops. Critical reception took a downturn, especially with original films, while sequels progress in creativity in comparison to the other films released in the era. A need for another successful franchise was very evident in this era.

  • Turbo
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Penguins of Madagascar
  • Home
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • Trolls

6 thoughts on “Eras of DreamWorks Animation

  1. Maybe the second transitional era needs another name. It bothers me somehow if there are 2 eras with the same name haha…

  2. I would just combine Transitional 1# with Commercial and Transitional 2# with Dark Age. The periods do not need to be that specific.

    1. I was initially going to do that, but I know that people have many different interpretations of where it could begin and end, so the transitionals are really safety havens.

  3. Shrek 2 does not belong in the transitional era because it’s immediate successor, Shark Tale is the first non-PDI computer animated film from that company as well as the first to receive a rotten rating from the critics. Also, Wallace and Gromit was distributed by Dreamworks. It’s immediate successor, Over The Hedge was the first Dreamworks Animation film distributed by Paramount.

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