'Shrek': Terry Press

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"Shrek," the computer-animated fractured fairy tale from DreamWorks SKG, ascended to the top of the summer 2001 box office and turned out to be the top grossing picture of the year to date, with domestic box office grosses of $262.9 million as of Sept. 4. The film proved a moviemaker other than Walt Disney Co. can deliver an animated blockbuster. "Shrek" opened in May with monster weekend grosses of $42.3 million, second-highest start of any animated film (behind Disney's "Toy Story 2").

Terry Press, 41, DreamWorks' head of marketing, led a 30-person team that helped it achieve those numbers.

The studio used a full media plate-trailers; TV, radio and newspaper ads; and in-theater displays-to sell this genre-skewing saga of a green ogre to kid and teen targets. But its most potent weapon proved to be the three hot stars who gave "Shrek's" main characters their voices-Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy. The trio eagerly passed out "Shrek" ears to the studio audience of Nickelodeon's madcap "Kids' Choice Awards," generating pre-release buzz. Numerous promotional partners, including Burger King Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores, provided extra pop.

"Shrek's" rapid-fire jokes keep audiences returning, with as many as one in 10 seeing it more than once. A sequel is in development.

Such Disneylike success is no surprise, since Ms. Press, as well as DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, are veterans of the Mouse house. Longtime colleagues, Ms. Press followed Mr. Katzenberg out of Disney, and into DreamWorks, after his acrimonious split with the company in 1994.

A year ago it was a Roman general who was benefiting from Ms. Press' prowess, as DreamWorks' "Gladiator" stalked Oscar glory. Now Hollywood watchers say the well-reviewed animated film, based on William Steig's children's book "Shrek!," may grab a nomination for an Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Oscar for an animated feature. But Ms. Press has bigger dreams: "I'm not convinced it can't get nominated for best picture of the year."

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