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BusinessFeature Film

Dreamworks Kills Tim Minchin’s ‘Larrikins’

Dreamworks Animation new owner Comcast/NBCUniversal continues to break apart the studio, which they bought last year from Jeffrey Katzenberg for $3.8 billion.

Their overall strategy is not yet clear to the public, but their latest move is the cancellation of Larrikins, a forthcoming feature that was being spearheaded by Australian comedian/musician Tim Minchin.

Micnchin made the news public Sunday on his website. In a message posted to his fans, he wrote:

I’ve recently been working in 3 different continents, missing my kids a lot, sleeping too little and not playing piano enough. And then a couple of days ago, the animated film to which I’ve dedicated the last 4 years of my life was shut down by the new studio execs.

According to the post, the project was cancelled by Dreamworks just a couple days earlier, on Friday, March 3. Minchin invited his fans to attend a performance last night in New York City, but warned that, “The only way I know how to deal with my impotent fury and sadness is to subject members of the public to the spectacle of me getting drunk and playing ballads. I suspect I won’t be very funny, I won’t be doing any stand-up, and I might act a bit bitter and spoilt.”

It marks the second project that the new Dreamworks management has cancelled in recent months. Last November, the new NBCUni bosses canned Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders’ Croods sequel.

The studio’s current line-up of confirmed release dates looks like this: The Boss Baby (March 31, 2017), Captain Underpants (June 2, 2017), How to Train Your Dragon 3 (March 1, 2019), Everest (September 27, 2019), Trolls 2 (April 10, 2020).

If the current schedule holds, Dreamworks will not release a film in 2018, marking just the second time in the studio’s history that that has happened (the first time was 1999, after the then-young studio had released its first two features in 1998).

There is no word yet whether the Larrikins crew will be transferred to another project or if studio employees will have to brace for another round of layoffs. There have already been multiple rounds of layoffs at Dreamworks since the Comcast takeover.

Larrikins was a musical comedy set in the Australian Outback and told the story of a desert-dwelling bilby who leaves his home under a rock to go on a roadtrip with a music band. It was being co-directed by Tim Minchin and Chris Miller (Shrek the Third, Puss in Boots) from a script by Harry Cripps. Minchin was also writing the film’s songs, while the voice cast included Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts, and Margot Robbie.

Illustrator Peter de Sève (Ice Age series) confirmed on Twitter that he had been the first designer hired on the project, and shared a few pieces of concept art that he’d created for the project: