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.