Shrek swamped theaters when the animated DreamWorks hit opened May 18, 2001, spawning a five-movie franchise that has grossed ogre $3 billion in global box office receipts. Taking place once upon a time, solitary ogre Shrek (Mike Myers) sets out on an adventure with a fast-talking Donkey (Eddie Murphy) when his swamp is invaded by obnoxious fairy tale characters exiled from the kingdom of Duloc by the short-statured Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). To save his home, Shrek agrees to rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) — Farquaad's desired bride-to-be who is locked away in a castle guarded by a fire-breathing Dragon — setting out on a journey of self-discovery and transformation.
Grossing $484.4 million on a reported budget of $60 million, Shrek lived happily ever after as the fourth highest-grossing movie of 2001, behind only Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ($975 million), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ($871m), and Disney-Pixar's Monsters, Inc. ($525m).
The fifth film from DreamWorks Animation and at the time its biggest hit — outgrossing its premiere feature, Antz, and Chicken Run, then the ruler of the coop at $225 million — Shrek also became the first film to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, premiered during the 74th Academy Awards in 2002.
A sequel, Shrek 2, followed in 2004, grossing $919 million. Two more chapters, Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After, followed in 2007 and 2010, grossing $813m and $752m, respectively. A spinoff-slash-prequel, Puss in Boots — taking place before the suave swashbuckler's (Antonio Banderas) appearance in Shrek 2 — sliced its way into theaters in 2011.
"The interesting thing about a series of films is that the main character has the same hole in the heart but a different rite of passage. So this is about an ogre who doesn’t love himself, and that’s his hole in his heart," Myers said in a 2010 interview with Peter Travers. "He doesn’t love himself enough that he thinks he can be in love, in the second one he doesn’t feel that he can be married, in the third one he doesn’t feel that he can be a father, and in this fourth and final one, he doesn’t feel that ogres deserve a happily ever after."
A fifth film, once planned for release in 2019, is in development with a script by Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and The Boss Baby writer Michael McCullers. In 2017, the screenwriter said Shrek 5 would "reinvent" the beloved series.
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