Given the radio silence surrounding the project, some are wondering if Madagascar 4 will ever release. Or, was it quietly cancelled?
DreamWorks' hit animated franchise was last heard from (at least in mainline film form) in 2012 with Madagascar 3: Europes Most Wanted.
The billion-dollar franchise, starring like likes of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, and David Schwimmer, has since seen a number of spin-offs including a movie focused on the series' iconic band of nefarious penguins, as well as several TV and streaming shows set in the universe.
However, given the fact that Madagascar still ranks as the sixth biggest animated franchise of all time, one would expect DreamWorks and Universal to dip their toes back into its animal kingdom world at some point in the near future.
Will Madagascar 4 Ever Release?
Madagascar 4 has actually been alluded to before; however, it has been years since the last update on the film.
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg previously told Empire in 2010 about this "next chapter" of the franchise, revealing he thinks "there’s probably one more [movie] for them [to do]:"
"Ultimately they will come back to New York and they will come to terms with that, which they will do in this next chapter. Because of the way that movie concludes there’s probably one more for them."
However, in June 2012 (shortly after the release of Madagascar 3) DreamWorks Animation's head of worldwide marketing, Anne Globe said (via MSN), "There hasn't been a lot of discussion about [a fourth film]," potentially hinting that the movie would not happen
Eric Dearnell, who directed the first three films in the franchise, once pondered that "two things have to happen" to make Madagascar 4 a reality, "One is that the world has to want Madagascar 4" and "we have to make sure that we have an idea that is incredible:"
"Two things have to happen. One is that the world has to want 'Madagascar 4,' because if they don't want it, it doesn't matter what we do. And the other thing is even if the world wants Madagascar 4, we have to make sure that we have an idea that is incredible, that is great, that is unexpected. If the audience wants it and we have a great idea, we will see – maybe."
In 2014, the movie was put onto the DreamWorks slate with a tentative release date of May 18, 2018 (via Collider).
However, just a year later the movie was quietly removed from the release calendar, as DreamWorks underwent corporate restructures and a new DreamWorks Animation policy to only release two films a year going forward.
The last update the project got came from Madagascar writer Tom McGrath, where - in an interview with HeyUGuys - he confirmed a fourth movie was still being worked on:
"There are things in the works, nothing is announced yet, but I think they'll show their faces once more..."
As of now, the fourth Madagascar movie remains without a release date and has not been given an official update from DreamWorks since 2014.
What Could Happen in Madagascar 4?
After their time on the island of Madagascar, the African savannah, and a European traveling circus, the band of New York Zoo escapees at the heart of the Madagascar films seemingly turned down the opportunity to remain back at home in NYC by the end of the third film.
Madagascar 3 (the last time fans saw these characters) ended with the group turning their back on their Central Park enclosures and joining the circus full-time.
Of course, if the franchise were to come back, there could be plenty of opportunity for some incredible international storytelling.
One place the Madagascar crew has not visited yet is Asia. Given the band of former New Yorkers is now traveling the world as a part of the Circus Afro, this could be a great chance to take the franchise even more international than it already has.
Another place a fourth movie could go would be back to New York City. As DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg mentioned all the way back in 2010, by the end of 3 the main cast would "come back to New York and they will come to terms with that."
Madagascar 4 could see the direct fallout of that decision, with some of the group being called back to the Big Apple, perhaps splitting up this band of friends that audiences have grown to love since the franchise's 2005 debut.