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Feature Film

Dreamworks’ ‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’ Has A Trailer

Here’s the first trailer for Dreamworks Animation’s upcoming film, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, to be released in the U.S. by 20th Century Fox on June 2, 2017.

The trailer pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the film’s set-up: two schoolkids hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a superhero named Captain Underpants. It needs little set-up because the movie is an adaptation of the smash children’s book series created by Dav Pilkey, whose 12 volumes have sold 70 million copies worldwide.

The Dreawmorks version is directed by David Soren (Turbo) from a script by Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors, Storks). The two leads, George and Harold, are voiced respectively by Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch. Other voices include Nick Kroll as Professor Poopypants, Jordan Peele as Melvin Sneedly, and Ed Helms as Captain Underpants.

This film represents a historic moment for Dreamworks Animation in one important way: it’s the first Dreamworks project that had its animation outsourced to a non-Dreamworks studio. The movie is being animated in Montreal, Canada, by Technicolor-owned Mikros Image, whose other animation credits include Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods, The Little Prince, and Mune: Guardian of the Moon.

Cartoon Brew first reported on the Mikros connection back in 2015. The studio’s involvement isn’t being heavily promoted by Dreamworks, because Jeffrey Katzenberg’s original goal was that Mikros would deliver at a level where audiences wouldn’t discern any difference between this movie and other internally-made Dreamworks productions. If the trailer serves as any indication, Mikros has succeeded in creating a Dreamworks-level film — and most likely at a fraction of the cost of typical Dreawmorks projects.

  • Harry Bastard

    Personally, I’m shocked. These actually LOOK like Dav Pilkey’s original characters.

  • Darissa Townes

    Hm. Can’t say that I’m very fond of the kids’ voices. I know these kinds of movies need celebrity voices, but could they have at LEAST given the kids voice that SOUND like kids?

    • Roman Reigns Owns The IWC

      I know people who like that Kevin Hart is in this, so I guess they wanted that audience.

  • Michael Helmer

    “Mikros would deliver at a level where audiences wouldn’t discern any difference between this movie and other internally-made Dreamworks productions. ” AND cheaper! no unions! sweet deal !

    • AmidAmidi

      It’s up to artists to fight for what they feel they are worth. The reason that unions exist in LA isn’t because movie studios in LA felt generous and decided to treat their artists well. It’s because artists FOUGHT and SACRIFICED a lot to achieve that.

      What the guys and gals in our industry did 75 years ago still benefits this current generation of artists. A lot of younger artists in LA today don’t even understand why they have the benefits they do, which is why we encourage people to recognize and understand the contributions of the earlier generation of artists: http://www.cartoonbrew.com/artist-rights/day-75-years-ago-disney-animation-changed-forever-140103.html

      • Michael Helmer

        I apologize if this came across as being anti-union – not my intent at all to slag unions or to diminish the artists who fought so hard to achieve their rights as a union.

        Let me ask this “What are the thoughts of a Dreamworks feature film being produced at such a high quality not in the United States?”

        • Steve Kaplan

          I’d have to say it did “slag unions”, both in the value of union membership and representation. However, your point regarding costs is a valid one, and one that should be considered with even more weight after hearing Chris DeFaria’s comments in the recent interview with the Freakanomics podcast (http://freakonomics.com/podcast/no-hollywood-ending-visual-effects-industry/).

          As Amid pointed out in his comment, the actions taken by the brave and frustrated Disney artists in the 1940s translated to an animation industry here in Los Angeles that provides livable wages, retirement pensions, portable healthcare from one animation job to the next and an opportunity to have a voice in ongoing adjustments to these conditions and more on a regular basis. This is something I aim to not only grow in Los Angeles, but across the United States and introduce in Canada.

          • Tim Perri

            An interesting point I’ve thought about– I find that the same people wagging their finger at DWA for the deterioration of their China and India studio, are the same people wagging their finger when a studio leans towards another country for tax incentives, which are an unfortunate reality of current business… So my question is this… do LA animation folk represent a top of the food chain in animation generally, and where does that leave my artist friends in Vancouver? Or visual effects people in London? Do we default to “Team LA” for the unions or because of the historical context in which the industry has grown here?

            I would think both a little bit of both, but I think we would be lying if we didn’t come off a little hypocritical with our unconcerned attitude towards animators not based in LA. (And to that point I’d say we need to encourage unions in all other major cities mentioned!)

          • As much as I’d like to see Los Angeles bursting at the seams with work, I’m not one that faults a company or production for moving their work center to chase subsidies. I’m against them philosophically, but understand the game enough to know why production chases them. I can make arguments as to why a locale shouldn’t offer them, but I was also one of the people who urged a Yes vote on California’s AB1839 (the state’s entertainment incentive).

            Are LA folks the best? I’m not one to say. I know that LA folks are busy now for a variety of reasons. LA folks are talented, just as Vancouver and London folks are. As for unionization, I hold regular meetings in Los Angeles and Vancouver for VFX and Animation folks. I know my London counterparts do the same.

          • Michael Helmer

            I suppose sarcasm doesn’t come across so well even after my apologies.

            My statement re: AND cheaper is in reference to the fact that this is never mentioned, only what a great job they thought the Canadian studio could deliver.

            No unions! Basically in reference to.the fact that DreamWorks (who recently was part of a lawsuit regarding wage fixing) was choosing to relocate a project to a Canada where they fully understand there is no union and they can pay sub-union rates across the production.
            Sweet Deal! Again sarcasm. No apologies here. The fact DreamWorks is doing this really hurts all of the people in the States in the animation union, and how you aren’t all super angry about this is beyond me. It isn’t helping the employees here either. Offering short term less than scale wages to produce top notch animation on a short term project with no benefits, does not help Canadian workers. Not only are foreign businesses counting on paying Canadians less they know with the idiotic tax incentives they can pay them even lower wages!
            How is it that the tough questions are never asked why these choices like these are made? And pressed further with follow up questions?
            Dreamworks made a settlement of $50 million dollars of admission to wage fixing!
            Writing fluff pieces to kiss the ass of studios who at every turn will undercut their employees, or even outsource work to avoid dealing with the union workers is truthfully disgusting.

          • Fluff piece? The fact that Dreamworks is chasing higher profits hurts the members of the Animation Guild? Dreamworks is bringing work to Canada is a bad thing because they’re putting downward pressure on wages? I’m a bit confused. Maybe you’re not seeing it from my perspective.

            Maybe you’re unaware that the members of Local 839 went out on *TWO* strikes (1979 and 1982) to stop and then keep “runaway production” from happening. The first one was won because the producers were caught unprepared. The second strike was lost because they were prepared, and teaches us that producers are nothing more than business people, and the agreements we have with the animation studios provides the best working conditions at the studios we have under the agreement. Are members happy that Dreamworks took Capt. Underpants to Canada? Doubtful, but there is a lot of work in town right now so many of the members are just working. I haven’t spoken to many members working at Dreamworks Feature though. They could feel as you describe.

            What tough questions are you wanting to be asked? Do you feel that the studios should act in the best interests of the artists, and therefore want to wag a finger at the likes of Dreamworks management and say something like “Hey! You’re hurting people here! Shame on you!!” Good luck with that. I regularly sit across from those people, and I’ll reiterate my previous point: they want nothing more than bigger profits.

            Conversely, if is downward pressure on wages and conditions in any part of Canada, I know a great way to combat that. The artists can work collectively to bargain their working conditions regularly with their employers. I happen to be able to help facilitate that and visit Canada regularly to speak to animation artists about the steps and possibilities available to them. It seemed to work out well for the industry in Los Angeles, and I’m confident it will work out well for cities in Canada too.

          • J

            The studio parent companies have realized what’s going on and seek to create a studio in every subsidized location with the same pipeline so they can quickly shift work from one studio to the next if one studio’s labor force starts to organize. That’s part of the impetus behind the consolidation of studios under a few parent corporations. Although as Dreamworks has shown, trying to maintain separate studios in LA, China, India, and Canada stretches their resources thin and can bankrupt them in the end.

            Also finding the people who can maintain a pipeline of that size is nearly impossible. It’s funny to watch them try.

          • I agree that the subsidies are an extremely important part of production budgets now. However, saying that productions are going to subsidies areas to avoid unionization just isn’t correct. It may be that in Canada the animation industry isn’t unionized yet, but that is certainly not why Dreamworks sent Capt. Underpants to Montreal.

        • Steve Kaplan

          “Let me ask this “What are the thoughts of a Dreamworks feature film
          being produced at such a high quality not in the United States?” ”

          Personally, and I may be biased, I don’t see the same quality as previous Dreamworks features. However, I feel that the animation work is exactly what is asked for by the story and characters.

          I’d answer your question by saying that Dreamworks (and any other producer) will work as cheaply as they can and sell for as high as possible to return as much profit to them and their investors as can be achieved. Ultimately, will the public pay to see this film? If so, will they pay to see many other films like it? If the answer is yes to both, Dreamworks (every producer) will make more films like this.

          I want to know how wide this feature will be released theatrically, and when will it be shown on Netflix? I think that’s got a lot to do with this as well.

        • RCooke

          High Quality? Kung Fu Panda 3, mmmmm….OK. This? This looks like a cheap tv show for toddlers. Only more bland. Producing a film in Asia is one thing, but designing one there? Quality control might be a problem.

          • Dave 52

            Actually, this looks like any other DreamWorks animated film but with a more distinctive style that is unique and faithful to the material it came from. Calling it “cheap” is like calling The Peanuts Movie’s animation style cheap. It is kind of a disservice to the animators who did a great job emulating Dav Pikey’s style and bringing it to CG which was probably hard to do. It is also a disservice to the book by calling it “bland”. As someone who has read some of the books and thoroughly enjoyed them, I can tell you they were gleefully goofy and embraced the silliness of the title and overall concept. They had a childlike charm to them that made them lovable. The movie looks to be no different and with it incorporating many different styles such as puppetry, 2D hand drawn animation, and “Flip-O-rama” along with the movie’s overall “anything goes” tone from the books it’s hard to see this being a bland movie or even a bland DreamWorks movie. If anything, this movie will probably be in the category of Megamind, Monsters Vs Aliens, Shrek, and the Madagascar category of DreamWorks films that aren’t really groundbreaking but are still fun movies with good comedy nonetheless.

  • It does have that Asterix feel in its art direction (they did a great job replicating the overall look and feel of Uderzo’s art for that film)..

  • Dave 52

    I’m really liking the look of this. The animation style is great and really brings the art and style of the books to life in a new way similar to The Peanuts Movie and Smurfs: The Lost Village. It really does separate itself from other Dreamworks movies. The humor is also surprisingly good as well and some of the jokes and physical humor did make me chuckle and smile throughout. That’s saying something since I thought that the humor, even with Nicholas Stoller writing the movie, would still aim more towards something like Boss Baby and I’m glad it doesn’t look that will be the case. Seems like Stoller is giving this movie more class than a movie called “Captain Underpants” should have. Who would have thought Captain Underpants has a better since of humor than Boss Baby? I’m also hoping that with this film Stoller can bring the same zaniness he brought in Storks and push it even further. Overall, this looks like it could be entertaining and fun and I definitely think that this will be the better film Dreamworks has to offer this year.

    • Roman Reigns Owns The IWC

      Well, I actually like the trailers for Boss Baby, I like the main character so far too.

      • Dave 52

        It’s not that I didn’t find the Boss Baby trailers amusing or that some parts in the trailer didn’t make me chuckle it’s just that in terms of what made me chuckle it was this one over Boss Baby. The character of the Boss Baby, thanks to Baldwin, will probably be the highlight of the film it’s just that everything surrounding him is a mixed bag for me. I love the animation style and the idea that the story is taking place in the young boy’s mind but on the other hand the humor has been more “miss” than “hit” and I worry that the imagination element will start to become confusing if not executed right.

        • Roman Reigns Owns The IWC

          I have laughed at the humor so, I’m not sure why you say it’s mixed.

          • Dave 52

            I just said why its a mixed bag for me. The humor from the trailers is missing the mark more than hitting it and the imagination aspect not being handled well. I hope the movie in the end is good as a whole.

          • Roman Reigns Owns The IWC

            I don’t share the same opinion as you.

        • Rachel

          :0. Jacob sartorius: hit or miss ;)

  • Pper79

    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.”]

  • Roman Reigns Owns The IWC

    I like how this movie looks, the problem I have though is that we are just now getting this trailer. Trailers for both Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3 came out before this one, why did we have to wait so long for this? It could hurt the film at the box office, as if the competition this summer didn’t already.

  • Marc Hendry

    I like the style, even though this isn’t to my tastes now, I liked the books as a kid and this doesn’t seem too different.
    The one weird thing is the adult voices for the kids. I guess if they’re making the first of multiple movies, they wouldn’t want to get child actors who’d grow up as the franchise goes on

  • jhalpernkitcat

    This actually looks faithful to the books–it definitely has the humor down perfectly. Also, the mime joke was great.

  • J.S

    Sweet animation style!

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    Looks fun. Personally,I’d love to see some studio adapt Glen Keane’s Adam Raccoon books.

  • Blackimar

    The fact that the kids are voiced by grown ass men making no attempt to change their voices at all bugs me. Its nitpicky of course, but they REALLY don’t sound like kids.

    • Ashley Samour

      I had the same complaint.
      The VO of Harold and George throws me off way too much to get into it… and I’ve been reading this series since I was 9. They’re supposed to sound like actual 4th graders. Many animation studios use celebrity voices, but at least they adjust for character.

  • Pper79

    This looks good, I just hope success at the box office does not lead to more US/Los Angeles animation jobs going to Canada.

  • Karen Drastal

    Wow, AFTER massive layoffs in Glendale they’re cutting costs by shipping it to Canada….yeah too bad for the hundreds of artists here that are out of jobs :/ Where does the union stand in all this?

    • J

      I’m sure they’re against it but they have no mechanism to control where these studios send work. It will go where it can be done cheapest but at an acceptable quality.

    • J is correct. The agreement that is in place with Dreamworks Animation and Dreaamworks Television Animation addresses the working conditions at their Glendale studios. While we certainly do not feel good about layoffs there, we also feel responsible to reach out to Animation and VFX artists in all of the Canadian provinces to educate them about their right to work collectively to establish similar working conditions and benefits at their studios.

      It’s important to remember that members of The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE did work to put restrictions on subcontracting in the agreement in 1979. It took a strike to achieve it, and then another strike before it was removed. The 1982 strike was a bitter one because the members didn’t want to lose that language, and the studios didn’t want to work under the restriction.

      The lesson it taught me is that the agreements we bargain address how the members are treated. I also feel personally responsible to travel to places like Montreal and work with the artists at studios like Mikros to establish agreements for them.

  • J

    Really fun style.

  • Inkan1969

    This trailer greatly deemphasizes the grossout that the book series is notorious for.

  • Mark Walton

    Well…I guess I don’t have to pay to see this movie in the theater anymore. Not that it doesn’t look good – I like the cartoony, graphic stylings, and the story looks fun, but I feel like I’ve already watched most of the movie in this trailer, so what would be the point? Money and time saved, I guess. That seems to be the trend these days: show a condensed version of the movie in ridiculously long trailers.

  • Mr.Anonymous

    While I think that critics are going to hate this movie, I still think it’s going to be great. Everything from the writing to the character designs make this film feel like one giant love letter to the Captain Underpants series & the fans

  • I just saw the trailer finally.

    The character designs and animation were a huge surprise, as they were done very well (and way better than Boss Baby). For this look and feel to be a DreamWorks film, it really shows diversity in their palette (they have shown diverse feels and looks in the past, this adds to it).

    I agree that it does have a Peanuts/Blue Sky feel, which is great – that the transition from 2D to 3D, while keeping 2D in mind for the animation, makes it more appealing. Finally, I’m not bothered too much but the voices at all. I understand the voices should be more kid age like, it’s not sticking out badly like the new DuckTales series (with Huey, Deweu, Louie). Hopefully this film delivers.