DreamWorks Starts War With Disney: Calls People “Stupid” for Liking Mermaids

in Disney, Movies

Halle Bailey as Ariel in 'The Little Mermaid' live-action remake

Credit: Disney

DreamWorks Animation has always had an interesting relationship with The Walt Disney Company, and now it seems they’re going all out against the animation giant.

Credit: Disney

Related: DreamWorks Retires Old Logo, Pushes New Brand Redesign Mimicking Disney

DreamWorks’ War With Disney: a History

The Walt Disney Company has a rather colorful history with DreamWorks Animation Studios, as the very founding of DreamWorks came about in an attempt to explicitly create a rival animation house to Walt Disney Animation Studios. The company began as DreamWorks SKG — where SKG stood for the initials of director and producer Steven Spielberg, former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, and music executive David Geffen. These three had come together after Katzenberg’s exit from The Walt Disney Company, following a perceived snub from then-CEO Michael Eisner and internal tensions with Walt Disney’s nephew, Roy E. Disney. DreamWorks Animation Studios is currently a subsidiary of Universal Pictures, under NBCUniversal, making it a Comcast company.

Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) Po (Jack Black) and Monkey (Jackie Chan) in 'Kung Fu Panda'
Credit: Dreamworks Animation

DreamWorks Animation Studios is known for its many animated feature film franchises, namely their movie franchises like How to Train Your Dragon (2010)Kung Fu Panda (2008), The Boss Baby (2017), Trolls (2016), and the Shrek (2001) franchise.

But it was really DreamWorks’ 2D projects that got the company its start, namely the much-lauded The Prince of Egypt (1998), and even The Road to El Dorado (2000). Since then, they’ve expanded significantly into more commercial projects, like Trolls and Trolls 2: World Tour / Trolls World Tour (2020) franchise, as well as The Boss Baby and The Boss Baby 2 / The Boss Baby: Family Business (2021), the Madagascar franchise and even less critically-favored Shark Tale (2004) and Bee Movie (2007) animated films.

Shrek (left) Donkey (right) DreamWorks
Credit: DreamWorks

Related: Fans Rejoice “Return of Cinema” After New ‘Shrek 5’ Update

DreamWorks’ 2023 Declaration of War

However as of late, it seems like Disney’s most prominent rival has been on the up and up. With ridiculously popular and stunningly animated Shrek spin-off movie, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022) starring Antonio Banderas as the titular Puss, the animation company has started to gain a lot of audience favor as well as box office profit — seriously threatening Disney’s place at the top of the industry. Meanwhile, Disney seemingly doubles down on remaking their classic films.

Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots in 'Puss in Boots: The Last Wish' (2022)
Credit: DreamWorks Animation

The new DreamWorks movie trailer for Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken (2023) is playing before The Walt Disney Company’s live-action reboot of 1989’s animated classic of the same name, The Little Mermaid (2023).

But the reason that’s suddenly contentious has become the subject of much debate of late: because DreamWorks is openly calling Disney out on their portrayal of the mythical mermaid — and calling people stupid for liking. The official DreamWorks Twitter account recently posted their trailer of the new movie:

Giant Krakens Vs Evil Mermaids. This summer experience Ruby Gillman #TeenageKrakenMovie only in theaters June 30.

This immediately went viral with a tweet by Stefan Ellison that garnered almost 40K likes at the time of writing,

“People love mermaids.”
“Of course, they do. People are stupid.”

This trailer will play before showings of The Little Mermaid.

The directed jibe calls people (implying: audiences) “stupid” for liking mermaids — with its deliberate placing in front of Disney’s latest mermaid-centric film a rather obvious callout.

Here @KyleKozmikDLuxO sharply notes the tendency for many to read into this line in the DreamWorks film as “another Disney/DreamWorks war” which is “clearly all in good fun” (with a notably sarcastic tone). User Mike Kobela adds to this, with another “sarcastic” comment about “the Ghost of Katzenberg” returning to DreamWorks — referencing both studios’ sordid past and active rivalry:

@KyleKozmikDLuxO: Can’t wait for some folks to interpret this as another Disney/DreamWorks war when this is merely all in good fun. /s (/sarcasm)

Mike Kobela: “The Ghost of Katzenberg Past returning??????” /s

But it seems others think differently — with users like @lazyariel insisting that it is absolutely still an active warzone between the two premier animation companies:
I mean, it kind of is. They played the first trailer same week as TLM live action. Some people used this redhead to be racist towards the live action. And now it plays in front of it. It’s clever but we all know the guy running dreamworks hates Disney specially Ariel 💀
Clearly, these jibes are rather deliberate — but although it’s been years, it seems like DreamWorks just can’t shake this fierce rivalry with The Walt Disney Company. The entire Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken movie is almost like a direct shot aimed at Disney, especially seeing as the very premise has to do with debunking the likeability and surface-level “niceness” of mermaids — instead celebrating the “monstrous” krakens inside us. Which ironically isn’t unlike the plot to Disney Pixar’s Turning Red (2022).

What do you think about DreamWorks waging war with Disney over mermaids? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is a forthcoming animated film that combines elements of coming-of-age, fantasy, action, and comedy. Produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures, the film is helmed by director Kirk DeMicco and co-director Faryn Pearl. The screenplay is penned by Pam Brady, Brian C. Brown, and Elliott DiGuiseppi.

The cast of Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken includes Lana Condor as Ruby Gillman, a shy 16-year-old kraken in high school and unknowing member of the legendary sea krakens; Toni Collette as Flora “Flo” Gillman, Ruby and Sam’s overprotective mother; Emmy winner Annie Murphy as Chelsea, a snobbish mermaid-turned-human; Sam Richardson as Finn Gillman, Ruby and Sam’s enthusiastic uncle; Colman Domingo as Peter Gillman, Ruby and Sam’s supportive father; Jaboukie Young White as Connor, Ruby’s crush; Liza Koshy as Margo; Blue Chapman as Sam Gillman; Jane Fonda as the Warrior Queen; Eduardo Franco as Trevin; and Ramona Young as Bliss. Will Forte, Ramona Young, Echo Kellum, Eduardo Franco, and Emmy nominee Nicole Byer have also been cast in undisclosed roles.

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