By Adam B. Vary
July 12, 2012 at 07:55 PM EDT

The Projects: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted; Rise of the Guardians; and The Croods

The Panel: Bill Damaschke, chief creative officer of DreamWorks Animation; James Baxter, supervising animator for The Croods; Tom McGrath, director of Madagascar 3; and Patrick Hanenberger, production designer for Rise of the Guardians. EW’s Anthony Breznican moderated the panel.

The Big Revelations: At the very end of the panel, Madagascar 3 director McGrath (who also voices Skipper the penguin) confirmed that the penguins of Madagascar will be getting their own feature film, out in 2015. It will be titled, appropriately enough, The Penguins of Madagascar (the same title as an animated TV Nickelodeon series from DreamWorks Animation). 

Damaschke was also guilt tripped by an audience question into revealing that Kung Fu Panda 3 is in the works. (Another questioner got a bit of a mini-scoop on the DreamWorks Animation project Me and My Shadow. More on that in a bit.)

And we also got a first look at The Croods, about a caveman family who are forced from a sheltered life into the world beyond, after their cave is destroyed. Along the way, we learned they will encounter “a guy named Guy,” said Damaschke. The character, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, is “a different kind of person because he has ideas.”

Footage Screened: The panel began with clips from Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and a trailer for Rise of the Guardians released earlier this week, followed by what looked like the first trailer for The Croods. The footage starts out with a distinctly Brave-like feel, featuring the eldest, unnamed daughter escaping her cave to scale a sheer cliff face. Then after her family’s cave is ruined, the dusty, monochromatic world of the Croods explodes into a wildly lush and dangerous landscape filled with giant animals and vibrantly colorful plant life. The film, explained Damaschke, takes place in the fictitious Croodacious Period. “We call it evolution’s puberty.”

Snap Judgment: Any wholly original project that makes its way to theaters is quite welcome, and The Croods could be a great feast for the eyes.

Most Incisive Audience Question: The laconic man who asked if DreamWorks would ever go back to 2-D, hand-drawn animation learned that the DWA project Me and My Shadow, out spring 2014, will be half CG animation, half hand-drawn. The premise: What would happen if your shadow — which will be traditionally animated — took over your life?

The Winner of the Panel: Madagascar 3 director Tom McGrath landed the biggest laugh of the panel with this line: “We really wanted to do something psychedelic in Madagascar 3 so kids could experience drugs without taking them.”

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