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Feature Film

DreamWorks Will Outsource ‘Captain Underpants’…But Not Where You Think

One of the most buzzed-about revelations from yesterday’s crushing mass layoffs at DreamWorks, the largest in the studio’s history, was that DreamWorks would begin outsourcing the production of some of its feature film projects. The first of these outsourced movies will be the adaptation of the bestselling children’s book series Captain Underpants, scheduled for completion in 2017.

Upon hearing this news, many assumed that the outsourced production would happen in either India or China, where DreamWorks has been training animators and building production hubs. But the outsourced production will remain much closer to home.

Montreal, Canada-based Mikros Image, a satellite of the French-owned vfx/animation/post-production firm, is expected to produce Captain Underpants. A commenter on Cartoon Brew, “Tabarnac,” pointed out that the decision to use Mikros had been in the works for a while: “Last summer, Katzenberg was up at Mikros in Montreal. Talks were already in place for Mikros to provide animation ‘outsourcing’ since he was so impressed with his private screening of Mune.” While there has been no official confirmation yet from DreamWorks, Mikros was also referenced as the outsource company in a Variety piece yesterday.

In fact, there may have been some other clues that Mikros would be the beneficiary of DreamWorks outsourcing, since some key DreamWorks artists have been working with the studio for the past few years.

mune-posterSEE ALSO: Nico Marlet-Designed French Feature Mune Has a Trailer

Veteran DreamWorks character designer Nico Marlet (How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda) designed Mikros’s new film Mune, Guardian of the Moon, the same one that the Cartoon Brew commenter identified as having impressed Katzenberg. Meanwhile Kung Fu Panda director Mark Osborne has been living in Montreal while he directs Mikros Image’s soon-to-be-completed feature The Little Prince. (The studio also animated the recently released CGI Asterix movie.)

DreamWorks artists like Marlet and Osborne were definitely ahead of the curve when they signed on to work with Mikros Image. For now, at least, some DreamWorks productions appear to be headed north to Canada.

  • AmidAmidi

    Please make sure to follow Cartoon Brew’s commenting guidelines to ensure that your comment will be approved: http://www.cartoonbrew.com/commenting

  • jonhanson

    Wow, the movies from Mikros Image look really good, especially for the budgets I’m seeing listed. They’ve obviously got a talented team and I’m sure it’s nice to get the extra power of DreamWorks behind them but I’m still not sure I’d like to be in their position. Things are looking good for Canada now, but I can’t help but worry that if costs start to rise to American levels the execs will be looking for somewhere else with cheaper labor and more generous subsidies.

    That said I can’t wait to see Mune and Little Prince.

  • Mark Mayerson

    The Canadian dollar, close in value to the U.S. dollar not long ago, is now worth about 81 cents U.S. due to the drop in the price of oil. That gives U.S. companies an additional 19% discount on top of whatever subsidies are available.

  • David Chambers

    Also a 25% Fed tax credit. They can’t send them there though for you have to be a Canadian citizen and provincial resident for 10 months. It’s been like this for 20 years btw.

  • Animator

    As a junior animator on TLP, no one was ever asked to do free overtime. During crunch, paid overtime on the weekend was optional. Mune was run a little differently, and it sucks that you guys weren’t treated as fairly.

  • MukosImage

    They were supposed to cut with 20% the incentives. The Mayor was against, obviusly since he might get some slice from the cake. I was wondering if they did…

  • Pathetic.

    But somehow outsourcing work to Canada, and taking jobs away from US Animators is Ok with you?

    Speaking with people at Dreamworks in both Glendale, and Redwood City, they have all said the work that came back from India was sub-par, and much of it had to be cleaned up, or re-animated completely. Don’t really know how that is cost-effective when you pay to have the work done twice.
    We have yet to see what work will come from Oriental Dreamworks.

    • Animator606432

      Which is another question I have with outsourcing animation to sub par studios in Asia. Obviously, Asia has produced some amazing pieces of animation and this is not to imply that ALL studios in Asia are bad. But I’ve noticed with the trend of cheapening out and sending work to Asia the quality of American Animation and even Canadian Animation seems to have gone down drastically. But maybe that’s just me and I could me wrong.

  • Animator606432

    I don’t think you meant that to be a response to be, as I was specifically talking about Asian Animation studios. But maybe you did..

  • akear

    America is losing its animation and SFX industry, just like it lost its auto and machine tool industry. Everything is going down hill in America today.