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Happy ‘Shrek’ Day!

Everyone’s favorite ogre celebrates his 20th anniversary today. How did Shrek leave such a legacy?

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Members of the New York Police Department stand by as the Shrek balloon at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Members of the New York Police Department stand by as the Shrek balloon makes its way across 42nd Street during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010, in New York.

Tina Fineberg, Associated Press

Today marks the 20th anniversary of DreamWorks’ “Shrek” which hit theaters across the U.S. on May 18, 2001. Since its release, the animated ogre has become a critically acclaimed film and pop culture icon, leaving a legacy in film, music and memes.

Starring the power cast of Mike Myers as Shrek, Eddie Murphy as Donkey and Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona, the movie’s fantasy comedy has all the usual fairytale features turned completely on their head, according to The New York Times. The movie broke the mold, according to the Ringer, and set a precedent for future DreamWorks movies.

  • But the movie’s journey from idea to icon started out with challenges in casting, music and technology.

Shrek’s early days: Unpromising project

Based on a children’s book by William Steig, “Shrek” took years to develop for the screen, according to USA Today. The project underwent numerous script revisions, director and casting changes, and a general lack of support from DreamWorks employees, according to the Ringer.

  • “‘Shrek’ was considered Siberia at DreamWorks,” co-director Vicky Jenson said, according to The Ringer. “If you had finished up on a project and they couldn’t quite place you, or somebody felt you weren’t working out on another project, they said, ‘Well, Shrek needs people.’”

Not many had high hopes for the project, The New York Times reports. At the time, no other film had achieved the level of complex animation that “Shrek” needed; the genre of fantasy comedy had barely been made into movies, The New York Times says, and no other animated films included pop culture references in their music or dialogue.

When “Shrek” opened, the film grossed more than $484.4 million at the box office worldwide. The production budget for the film was about $60 million, The New York Times and USA Today report. Following the success of “Shrek,” DreamWorks went on to make three sequels and a spinoff, “Puss in Boots.”

‘Shrek’ through the years: Movie turned cultural phenomenon

The themes of finding love, self-acceptance and the joy of unlikely friendships resonated with multiple generations of audiences, The New York Times reports. Over the years, “Shrek” has built a strong — and surprising — resume of achievements:

The film has also gotten theme park attractions, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and, of course, inspired millions of memes.

‘Shrek’ today: New reboots and sequels

The “Shrek” film universe has been dormant for years, but that’s about to change. According to The Ringer, “Shrek” is being rebooted and “Puss in Boots” is getting a sequel.