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Shrek is a 2001 American computer-animated fantasy-comedy film produced by PDI/DreamWorks, released by DreamWorks Pictures, directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow. It is loosely based on William Steig’s 1990 fairy tale picture book Shrek!, and somewhat serves as a parody film, targeting other films adapted from various children’s fantasies (mainly animated Disney films). The film made notable use of popular music; the soundtrack includes music by Smash Mouth, Eels, Joan Jett, The Proclaimers, Jason Wade, Baha Men, and John Cale (covering Leonard Cohen).
The rights to the books were originally bought by Steven Spielberg in 1991, before the founding of DreamWorks, when he thought about making a traditionally animated film based on the book. However, John H. Williams convinced him to bring the film to DreamWorks in 1994, the time the studio was founded, and the film was put quickly into active development by Jeffrey Katzenberg after the rights were bought by the studio in 1995. Shrek originally cast Chris Farley to do the voice for the title character, recording about 80%–90% of his dialog. But since Farley died in 1997 before he could finish, Mike Myers was put in to work for the character, who after his first recording decided to record his voice in a Scottish accent. The film was also originally planned to be motion-captured, but after poor results, the studio decided to get PDI to help Shrek get its final computer-animated look.
Earning $484.4 million at the worldwide box office, the film was a critical and commercial success. Shrek also received promotion from food chains such as Baskin-Robbins (promoting the film’s DVD release) and Burger King. It was acclaimed as an animated film worthy of adult interest, with many adult-oriented jokes and themes but a simple enough plot and humour to appeal to children. Shrek won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was also nominated for six BAFTAs, including the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Eddie Murphy for his voice-over performance as Donkey, and won the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film’s main (and title) character was awarded his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in May 2010.
Shrek established DreamWorks Animation as a prime competitor to Pixar in the field of feature film animation, particularly in computer animation. The film’s success prompted DreamWorks to create three sequels, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, and Shrek Forever After, two holiday specials, Shrek the Halls and Scared Shrekless, and a spin-off film, Puss in Boots. A fifth film, planned as the last of the series, was cancelled in 2009 with the announcement that the fourth film would conclude the series. The film’s success also inspired other merchandise, such as video games, a stage musical and even a comic book by Dark Horse Comics.