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So long Shrek, hello Kung Fu Panda. Universal Studios to turn 4-D theater into DreamWorks showcase

Universal Studios Hollywood will transform its existing Shrek 4-D theater into a showcase for a series of short films based on DreamWorks animated movie franchises, starting with “Kung Fu Panda” in 2018.

The new DreamWorks Theatre will host a variety of attractions from the animation studio, whose hits include “Madagascar,” “Penguins of Madagascar,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Trolls.” NBCUniversal acquired DreamWorks for $3.8 billion in 2016.

The Shrek 4-D theater, which opened in 2003, features motion seats that tilt and vibrate with special effects that include air blasts, water misters and leg ticklers. Shrek 4-D attractions also operate at Universal Studios theme parks in Florida, Japan and Singapore.

Universal Studios Hollywood will transform the Shrek 4-D exterior from a stone castle into a Golden Age of Hollywood theater. A movie marquee on the front of the theater will highlight the latest attraction. Inside, the dungeon pre-show area will be converted into a theater lobby with coming-soon movie posters. Projection mapping will extend the action in the films beyond the proscenium onto the theater walls, surrounding the audience with imagery.

The new DreamWorks Theatre allows the theme park to potentially introduce a new attraction every summer that ties in with the latest theatrical release. It’s easy to imagine a 4-D theme park film opening around the same time as the latest DreamWorks sequel debuts in movie theaters. DreamWorks plans to release “How to Train Your Dragon 3” in 2019, “Trolls 2” in 2020 and “Puss in Boots 2” in 2021 with new installments of “Madagascar” and “Shrek” reportedly in the works, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Once the park has a large enough catalog, the 4-D movies could change throughout the day with a flip of the switch. Seasonal films like “Shrek the Halls” and “Merry Madagascar” could be adapted to the 4-D format for the holidays. The theater could play host to 4-D versions of “Monsters vs. Aliens” and “Scared Shrekless” during Halloween Horror Nights.

Across from the theater, the under-used Universal Plaza will be transformed into a DreamWorks character meet-and-greet area. Photo stations will be set up around the plaza with Po and Tigress from “Kung Fu Panda,” Alex the Lion from “Madagascar,” Skipper, Rico, Kowalski and Private from “Penguins,” Poppy and Branch from “Trolls” and Shrek, Fiona and Puss ’n Boots from “Shrek.” A stage in the plaza will host daily dance shows featuring DreamWorks characters.

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