The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Can Jeffrey Katzenberg save 'Shrek: The Musical'?

October 21, 2009 | 12:26 pm

DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg's "Shrek" movie franchise has been one of the most lucrative animation series of all time, with more "Shrek" 3-D installments still in the pipeline. But Katzenberg's "Shrek: The Musical" theatrical extravaganza has been one of the biggest flops on Broadway, the New York Post's Michael Riedel reports today. He quotes production sources who say that the "over-produced, under-imagined cartoon musical" has lost more than $1 million since Labor Day, despite heavy discounts and an aggressive ad campaign.

Shrekmusical While other shows have been doing business this fall, with several shows posting weekly grosses of more than $1 million, "Shrek" has been stuck at roughly $500,000 a week, which the Post says is nearly $300,000 short of the show's weekly running cost. So why is Hollywood's favorite 3-D booster keeping the ailing show afloat?

Riedel's take: "The general sense on Broadway is that it's an ego thing. 'Shrek' was DreamWorks' attempt to take on Disney, which conquered Broadway with 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'The Lion King.' If DreamWorks closes 'Shrek' -- on which it's spent something like $25 million -- after only a year or so, that is a dramatic admission of defeat. And that's something Jeffrey loath to do."

Meanwhile, the Post reports that a number of theater producers are circling "Shrek's" Broadway Theatre like buzzards, eager for access to a prime piece of Broadway real estate. Riedel says, "It's time for 'Shrek' to hit the road."

I, for one, would never underestimate Katzenberg's P.T. Barnum-like skills. Maybe it's time for the debut of "Shrek: The 3-D Musical."

Photo: Brian d'Arcy James as the ogre in "Shrek The Musical." Credit: Andrew Eccles / DreamWorks Theatricals.