Shrek 2 is a 2004 American computer-animated fantasy comedy film loosely based on the 1990 children’s picture book Shrek! by William Steig. Directed by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, and Conrad Vernon (in Vernon’s feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Adamson, Joe Stillman, J. David Stem, and David N. Weiss, it is the sequel to Shrek (2001) and the second installment in the Shrek film series. The film stars Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz, who reprise their respective voice roles of Shrek, Donkey, and Fiona. They are joined by new characters voiced by Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, and Jennifer Saunders. Shrek 2 takes place following the events of the first film, with Shrek and Donkey meeting Fiona’s parents as her zealous Fairy Godmother, who wants Fiona to marry her son Prince Charming, plots to destroy Shrek and Fiona’s marriage. Shrek and Donkey team up with a swashbuckling cat named Puss in Boots to foil her plans.
Development began in 2001, and following disagreements with producers, the first film’s screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were replaced with Adamson. The story was inspired by Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), and new animation tools were utilized to improve the visual appearance of each character, particularly Puss in Boots. The lead actors also received a significant bump in salary to $10 million, which at the time was among the highest contracts in their respective careers. Like its predecessor, Shrek 2 also parodies other films based on fairy tales and features references to American popular culture. The film is dedicated to the memory of Shrek creator William Steig, who died in October 2003, 8 months before the film was released.
Shrek 2 premiered at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2004, where it competed for the Palme d’Or, and it was released in theaters on May 19, by DreamWorks Pictures. Met with highly favorable reviews like its predecessor, the film grossed $935.3 million worldwide. It scored the second-largest three-day opening weekend in United States history and the largest opening for an animated film at the time of its release. It went on to become the highest-grossing film of 2004. Shrek 2 is also DreamWorks Animation’s highest-grossing film to date and the highest-grossing film released by DreamWorks Pictures, and it held the title of being the highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide until Pixar Animation Studios’ Toy Story 3 surpassed it in 2010. The film received two Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song, and its associated soundtrack charted in the Top 10 on the US Billboard 200. A sequel, Shrek the Third, was released in May 2007. The film’s character Puss in Boots has also received his own series of spin-off media—Puss in Boots (2011), The Adventures of Puss in Boots (2015–2018) and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022)—following his debut.
In 2001, soon after the original Shrek proved to be a hit, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz negotiated an upfront payment of $10 million each for voicing a sequel to the film. This pay increase represented a significant rise from the $350,000 salary that each of the three were paid for the first film. According to Jeffrey Katzenberg, the executive producer of Shrek 2 and a co-founder of DreamWorks Pictures, who led the negotiations, the payments were probably the highest in the actors’ entire careers. Each of the actors were expected to work between 15 and 18 hours in total. The film was produced with a $70 million budget.
Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the screenwriters of the first Shrek film, insisted that the sequel be a traditional fairytale, but after disagreements with the producers, they left the project and were replaced by director Andrew Adamson. His writing of Shrek 2 was inspired by the 1967 comedy-drama film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and was completed with the help of the film’s co-directors, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon, who spent most of the film’s production duration in Northern California while Adamson spent most of his time with the film’s voice actors in Glendale, California.
DreamWorks began production of Shrek 2 in 2001, before the first Shrek film was completed. The studio added more human characters to the film than there were in its predecessor and improved character appearance and movement with the use of several new animation/rendering systems. In particular, Puss in Boots necessitated development of a whole new set of film production tools to handle the appearance of his fur, belt, and hat plume; Puss’ fur especially required an upgrade to the fur shader. All of the character setup was completed in the first three years of production.
In an early version of Shrek 2, Shrek abdicated the throne, and called for a fairy tale election. Pinocchio’s campaign was an “honesty” campaign, while Gingy’s was a “smear” campaign. Adamson said that although this plot did have many funny ideas, it was also too overtly satiric and political, and considered “more intellectual than emotional”. Shrek 2 also appears much darker in terms of lighting when compared to the original film. Designers reportedly took inspiration from 19th century French illustrator and engraver Gustav Doré to improve the film’s richness of detail and setting. According to production designer Guillaume Aretos, “There are a lot of medieval paintings and illustrations [and] my own influences, which are classical paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries…The design of Shrek is always a twist on reality anyway, so we tried to [pack] as much detail and interest as we could in the imagery.”
- Mike Myers as Shrek
- Eddie Murphy as Donkey
- Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona
- Julie Andrews as Queen Lillian
- Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots
- John Cleese as King Harold
- Rupert Everett as Prince Charming
- Jennifer Saunders as Fairy Godmother
- Joan Rivers as Red Carpet Announcer
- Kate Thornton provides the voice for the UK version
- Larry King as Doris the Ugly Stepsister
- Jonathan Ross provides the voice for the UK version
- Aron Warner as Big Bad Wolf
- Cody Cameron as:
- The Three Little Pigs
- Christopher Knights and Simon J. Smith as Three Blind Mice
- Conrad Vernon as:
- Muffin Man
- Chris Miller as Magic Mirror
- Mark Moseley as Dresser
- Kelly Cooney as Fast Food Clerk
- Kelly Asbury as:
- Nobleman’s son
- Andrew Adamson as Captain of the Guard
May 19, 2004
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