SDCC 2014: Dreamworks Animation Panel With Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, And Craig Ferguson

Joseph Schmidt liveblogging from Hall H:

Craig Ferguson has jaunted to the stage, and immediately the crowd is rolling with laughs.


After throwing barbs at producer Jeff Katzenberg and proclaiming to be Shrek's understudy, the panel begins its first clip by way of Home, an adaptation of children's book The True Meaning of Smeck Day starring the vocal talents of Jim Parsons and Rihanna.

The trailer is about an outcast from a nomadic alien race called. Parsons plays Oh, an alien who chances across a young woman (Rihanna) and strikes up an Odd Couple-esque relationship with her while on the run from his people.


After the clip, Ferguson introduced Parsons and director Tim Johnson. After talking about the filming process, the two introduced a Hall H-exclusive scene, an action sequence in which the Eifel Tower flips upside down.

The quality was up to the usual standard of Dreamworks Animation, who has knocked their last few films out of the park.


After talking about working with Rihanna, Parsons said they redesigned Oh in one of the pop singer's wilder outfits. After taking a photo op with a cardboard to tweet to her, Parsons and Johnson left the stage.

Ferguson then prepped a clip of the Penguins of Madagascar spin-off film.


Directors Simon Smith and Eric Darnell and star Tom McGrath came to the stage first and played the first clip. Afterwards they spoke of the film's villain, Dr. Brine voiced by John Malkovich, someone with an axe to grind against the penguins.


John Malkovich then was introduced to the stage who spoke about working on the film. After a clip that reveals the evil Doctor's squid-like tendencies, the cast and directors began speaking about the group of heroes the penguins join up with.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the leader of Northwind, a group of animals who joined together to protect others.  Then ole Benny sent the ladies wild by gracing them with his presence.


After 20 minutes of new footage, Ferguson debuted a new mobile App that allows you to take a picture with the penguins photobombing. There you go, another app you'll use once.

The Q&A began and the first fan asked Cumberbatch about his process of preparing for the role. He retreated to the woods where he lived among the wolves for a time, becoming the dominant alpha, and leading his pack on the path of survival. Those Brits! So dedicated to the craft.


Next question of course is for Cumberbatch again, who really should be deemed Comic-Con's Official MVP or Most Likely to be Fawned Over at this point. The question? Oh yeah. Why'd he do the movie? Because he wants to work with the penguins.

The next question was about the children's books and stories the panel consumed as kids. Malkovich had the only response worth noting: ANYTHING WITH HAYLEY MILLS. Amen, brother.

Finally, Craig Ferguson was shown some love when a fan prefaced her question by saying she always watches his show. She then turned to Cumberbatch for the actual asking, and poor Craig looked so lonely on that podium.


Cumberbatch was asked a repeat question, and after Ferguson demanded her sneak in something about Sherlock (which Dreamworks tried to squash), but the fan asked anyways: will he return for Season 4?

"Maybe," he said.

Last question: What comic-book hero would you guys play? The crowd, as expected, went crazy.

Malkovich: Lois Lane.

Benedict Cumberbatch: I don't know. Batman, I guess.

One final treat before they left, Ferguson showed the first 6 minutes of Penguins of Madagascar. The footage was rough with low-res textures and minimal backgrounds, but it was near fully animated and voiced.

The footage depicted how the titular characters first come together and established there M.O. Many laughs were shared and it was a fitting end to the Dreamworks Animation panel.

The Giver is up next.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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