Andrew Adamson is a writer, producer, and director. He dreamed of being an architect in his native New Zealand, but missed university enrollment due to a car accident. He was then recruited by Pacific Data Images to go to work in Los Angeles, California. Although he worked largely in ads, he also served as a technical director for 1992’s Toys and 1994’s Angels in the Outfield, and as a visual effects supervisor for 1995’s Batman Forever, 1996’s A Time to Kill, and 1997’s Batman and Robin. Afterward, he was hired by Dreamworks Animation to help further develop what would become 2001’s Shrek. For this latest installment of Animation Corner, I’ll be looking back at Shrek and its first sequel, Shrek 2.
Co-directed by Adamson and Vicky Jensen, 2001’s Shrek centers on an ogre who agrees to rescue a princess in exchange for having thousands of newly-exiled fairy tale characters removed from his swamp. Featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Vincent Cassel, and Jim Cummings, this critically acclaimed film grossed $267 million domestically on a $60 million budget (it made another $216 million internationally). Based on the picture book Shrek! by William Steig, the film originally featured Chris Farley as the voice of Shrek, but he died in 1997 before he could complete recording his dialogue. Mike Myers was brought in to replace Farley and, after recording his dialogue, he convinced Jeffrey Katzenberg (head of Dreamworks Animation) to re-record his voice in a Scottish accent. The film also featured a score by John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams (their third collaboration after 1998’s Antz and 2000’s Chicken Run). Among the film’s accolades are five Saturn Award nods (including one win), six BAFTA nods (one win for Best Adapted Screenplay), a Golden Globe nod for Best Picture- Comedy or Musical, winning eight Annie Awards, and two Oscar nods (one win for Best Animated Feature; the very first Animated Feature Oscar winner).
Co-directed by Adamson, Kelly Asbury, and Conrad Vernon, 2004’s Shrek 2 centers on Shrek and Fiona’s journey to Far Far Away to meet her parents, but things get complicated when her Fairy Godmother plots to break up their marriage and have Fiona end up with Prince Charming (Fairy Godmother’s son). Featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Rupert Everett, and Jennifer Saunders, this critically acclaimed film grossed $441 million domestically on a $150 million (it made another $478 million internationally). Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, two of the Oscar-nominated screenwriters from the first film, withdrew from the sequel after a disagreement over the storyline. Director Adamson used 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner as an influence on the sequel. Medieval paintings and illustrations also strongly influenced Guillaume Aretos’ production design. Due to a conflict, co-composer John Powell did not return for the sequel, leaving Harry Gregson-Williams to score the film himself. Among the film’s accolades are two Saturn Award nods, seven Annie Award nods, a Golden Globe nod for Best Original Song, and two Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song and Best Animated Feature (it lost to The Incredibles).