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‘Shrek’: Is it really the final chapter?

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DreamWorks Animation gave Friday’s fourth ‘Shrek’ film almost as many titles as a cat has lives, including ‘Shrek Goes Fourth’ and ‘Shrek: The Final Chapter’ before settling on ‘Shrek Forever After.’ The studio is calling it ‘one ‘Shrek’ of a finale.’ But is it really the green ogre’s last hurrah?

DreamWorks President Jeffrey Katzenberg acknowledged at the film’s Sunday premiere that his animation studio was built by ‘Shrek,’ which as a franchise has global box-office revenues in excess of $2.2 billion. While the series’ trend is going in the wrong direction--2007’s ‘Shrek the Third’ film grossed 15% less than 2004’s ‘Shrek 2’--the prospects for ‘Shrek Forever After’ look enormous.

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Opening only against Universal’s action spoof ‘MacGruber’ in wide release, the fourth ‘Shrek’ film should play deep into the summer. While at least one analyst says the film could open below expectations, ‘Shrek Forever After’s’ overall gross doubtlessly will be boosted by surcharges for 3-D admissions. So assuming (even a bit conservatively) that ‘Shrek Forever After’ grosses about $650 million worldwide, are those the kind of numbers that cause you to throw in the towel?

DreamWorks is developing a sequel with the swashbuckling feline Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), but some people (including two agents with clients involved in the series) are leaving open the possibility of a fifth ‘Shrek’ movie, even as DreamWorks and distributor Paramount Pictures insist it won’t happen.

“I’m hoping the same thing everyone else is—that they’re going to come back in a few years and go, ‘We were just kidding,’ ” said Cameron Diaz, the voice of Princess Fiona in all four films. After Sunday’s premiere, she said she was depressed the series was ending. “I’m really sad, actually. I think yesterday we were all kind of going, ‘Is this really it?’ It’s very sad. It’s something that’s been a constant in all of our lives for so long.”

Said director Mike Mitchell: “I’m sure if this does phenomenal that Jeffrey will make another.’

--John Horn and Amy Kaufman


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