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The Disney-Dreamworks Feud: Antz vs. A Bug's Life to The Wild vs. Madagascar

By Zeus | 2007-07-27

Ever since Antz and A Bug's Life, Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks/PDI have fought a series of duels, with each releasing animated films with strikingly similiar premises. From The Wild & Madagascar to Ratatouille & Flushed Away, Zeus exposes the gory details.

The Rules of Combat

A duel is a pair of animated movies released by Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks/PDI (Pacific Data Images).


  1. Duels are always released within one calendar year of each other.
  2. These films have the same premise, though the end result is often wildly different. It's as if both companies were told to make an animated feature based on the same one-sentance premise.
  3. There is no Dreamworks counterpart to Disney's Cars nor Disney counterpart to Over the Hedge. Not all films released by Dreamworks/PDI or Disney/Pixar are duels.
Before we begin, we must remind you that "which came first" is not our concern. The glory is in the battle, not a children's game of chicken-or-the-egg. Remember, Carnosaur beat Jurassic Park to the theaters by 21 days. Of course, the book Jurassic Park was based on predates either film. Then again, the book Carnosaur was based on came out back in 1986. The Disney/Dreamworks feud is even fuzzier.

This isn't about one company ripping the other off. It's about two mega-corps waging a very public war, with anthropomorphic animals as their soldiers and CGI as their weapon of choice.

Antz versus A Bug's Life

Title:AntzA Bug's Life
Artwork:antzbugs life
Shared Synopsis:A free-thinking ant in a close-minded hill proves he's no mindless drone when he falls for the princess and saves his colony from an army of bug-eyed badguys.
Release Date:1998-10-02 1998-11-25
Fun Fact: After reviving Disney's animation studios with The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King, Jeffrey Katzenberg asked for a promotion. No can do. Katzenberg swore revenge and founded Dreamworks along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Within ten years, Dreamworks' Shrek 2 became the third highest grossing movie of all time. (At the time of writing, Disney's best effort, Finding Nemo, is only #14.)


The moral of this story? Don't screw with the Jews from Malibu. They will band together like Voltron and leave you in the dust.

The Road to El Dorado versus The Emperor's New Groove

Title:The Road to El DoradoThe Emperor's New Groove
Artwork:Road to El DoradoEmperor's New Groove
Shared Synopsis:Hand-drawn slapstick buddy picture set in ancient Peru follows the adventures of the Man Who Would Be King.
Release Date:2000-03-31 2000-12-15
Fun Fact:A deleted sub- plot implied Dorado's flamboyant heroes were... more than just friends. In the original script, Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh (who recorded their dialog together in the same booth, a rarity in animation), called each other pet names like "darling." This was in addition to the Elton John soundtrack, Miguel's low-cut "he-vage" blouse and the infamous skinny dipping hot tub scene.

The Road to El Dorado: Tulio and Miguel

The "darlings" were excised from the final cut, but you can still read them on DVDs with subtitles based on the original script.

Shrek versus Monsters, Inc.

Title:ShrekMonsters, Inc.
Artwork:ShrekMonsters, Inc.
Shared Synopsis:A big scary monster who's really a big softy on the inside teams up with his diminutive, wisecracking friend to save the girl.
Release Date:2001-05-18 2001-11-01
Fun Fact: We all know that Chris Farley was originally cast as Shrek, but did you know that after being hired as a replacement--years into the project--Mike Myers decided to re-record all of his dialog in a Scottish brogue?

This one request wound up costing Dreamworks $4 million in expenses, as the animators had to change every scene to re-synchronize Shrek's lips. Which reached for comment, Myers had this to say:

If it's not scottish, it's crap!

Shark Tale versus Finding Nemo

Title:Shark TaleFinding Nemo
Artwork:Shark's TaleNemo
Shared Synopsis:Okay, this may be stretching it, but the lead character is a wee fish in a big pond who battles jellyfish and befriends a vegetarian shark.
Release Date:2004-10-01 2003-05-30
Fun Fact: In 2003, French children's book author Franck le Calvez claimed Disney stole his idea for Finding Nemo. Like the Disney character, Calvez's Pierrot Le Poisson-Clown lives in a sea anemone and lost a parent to predators. (Yeesh, this is really stretching the boundries of "fun fact," isn't it?)

Nemo Pierrot

In an interview with the Telegraph, Calvez nicely summed up the concept of these duels by sayng, "The beginning of the story is the same, even if the scenarios then become different."

Madagascar versus The Wild

Title:MadagascarThe Wild
Artwork:MadagascarThe Wild
Shared Synopsis:A lion, giraffe and their animal buddies are forced to leave a New York City Zoo when they follow a friend out of the big apple and onto a boat bound for Africa.
Release Date:2005-05-272006-04-14
Fun Fact: The following "inaccuracies" are listed on the Wikipedia entry for The Wild:
  • The notion that there are alligators in sewers is an urban legend.
  • Chameleons' color-changing abilities are not so sophisticated.
  • Elephants are not afraid of lions.

Flushed Away versus Ratatouille

Title:Flushed AwayRatatouille
Artwork:Flushed AwayRatatouille
Shared Synopsis:A high-culture rat loses his home; his life literally going down the drain of a major European city. In the process he learns a little something about life, love... and how get cheap laughs from raw sewage.
Release Date:2006-11-032007-06-29
Fun Fact: Flushed Away was originally going to be called Ratropolis, but the title was changed for fear it sounded too much like Ratatouille.

The only thing left to say is... Why stop there?

- Zeus (email me!)

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