DreamWorks Previews ‘Rise of the Guardians,’ ‘Madagascar 3′

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Select members of the media got a sneak peek Wednesday at footage from DreamWorks Animation’s 2012 releases: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and Rise of the Guardians.

The studio showed 25 minutes of Madagascar 3, due out June 8, and about 15 minutes of footage from Guardians, up for release Nov. 21 at the Directors Guild of America.

Guardians is based on co-director William Joyce’s children’s book The Guardians of Forever, and tells the tale of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost teaming up to stop a villain named Pitch. The cast includes Alec Baldwin as the Santa character, dubbed “North” and played with a Russian accent; Hugh Jackman as the Easter Bunny, dubbed “Bunnymund”; Isla Fisher as “Tooth,” a.k.a. the Tooth Fairy; and Chris Pine as Jack Frost. Jude Law voices Pitch.

The scene presented showed the group of characters trying to recruit a reluctant Frost to their cause.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted reunites cast members Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Sacha Baron Cohen and Jada Pinkett Smith, and adds new cast members Bryan Cranston, Jessica Chastain and Martin Short. Frances McDormand plays the villain, a driven police captain named DuBois.

The first clip shown saw the animal group finding its way to Monte Carlo, where they disguise themselves to enter a casino and are discovered — resulting in a high speed chase. The second shows the animals pretend to work in a circus to hide from Dubois, while the final clip showed them performing in the circus to the Katy Perry tune “Firework.”

Speaking after the presentation, DreamWorks co-president of production Bill Damaschke says both films fulfill the studio’s creative goals.

“The  movies we have coming up this year really deliver the full meaning of what a DreamWorks movie is — which is innovative, great storytelling, great characters, big-hearted movies, big adventures and worlds that we’ve never seen before in the way our movies are showing them,” he says.” I’m very excited about Madagascar 3 and The Rise of the Guardians. If you put them next to each other, you can see the stark contrast and demonstrates that our studio doesn’t have one house style and isn’t about one tone of film. It’s about really leaning into the sensibilities of the filmmakers that come to work on our moves. Our brand will continue to be defined by innovation and entertainment as it always has before.”

Looking to the future, Damaschke says he expects animation to remain on the cutting edge of movie storytelling. “On one hand, it feels like we’ve been doing this forever, but it also seems like it’s the beginning of it all in many ways. CG animation is a 15-year-old industry, and what we’re seeing are more and more live-action filmmakers choosing to tell their stories in animation,” he says. “It’s clearly interesting to have this blend of live-action and animation filmmakers working together, and it will continue to push storytelling and technology. I think the look of animated movies will also evolve and change because of the new developments in technology. Rise of the Guardians is a perfect example of a movie that looks very different from anything before it. That’s partly because of the technology. In the early days, we had movies about toys and bugs and animals, because they were much easier to depict in CG Animation, but now you can tell a great story with human and humanesque characters.”

You can read more of our conversation with Damschke in the upcoming 25th Anniversary issue of Animation Magazine.