LOS ANGELES — Shrek and friends have taken part in a bizarrely metrosexual photo spread for a men's magazine ahead of the release of the fourth installment in the hugely popular animated feature franchise.
Needless to say, the studios behind "Shrek Forever After" say they regret the unorthodox depictions of the family-friendly characters. But no retribution, legal or otherwise, is planned.
The green ogre and his castmates will be featured in the summer edition of Vman, a 144-page glossy magazine that goes on sale April 20, a day before "Shrek Forever After" premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
The photos have Donkey snuggling up to a lingerie-clad model and Shrek and Fiona posing with male and female models wearing barely-there leather and denim outfits. Meanwhile, a mostly bare-chested model wearing a cross feeds grapes to Puss in Boots.
DreamWorks Animation, though, was expecting a less provocative, more reverential treatment of its most valuable characters. In fact, when Vman approached Paramount as the distributor of the animated sequel, the magazine editors likened their vision to a Harper's Bazaar photo spread of Homer, Bart and the rest of the Simpsons two years ago. Released just ahead of "The Simpsons Movie," Harper's featured the cartoon cast wearing Chanel, Hermes, Versace and Louis Vuitton — without the intrusion of human models. The spread essentially was elegant and inoffensive.
Vman initially offered its cover to Shrek, but Paramount declined that treatment. When the magazine's editors came back suggesting an inside spread, Paramount executives — with visions of a successful "Simpsons"-like marketing ploy dancing in their collective heads — gave Vman the OK.
"While we do respect Vman's creative vision, the shoot did not turn out the way originally envisioned when the idea was first presented by the magazine," a Paramount spokesperson said. "In hindsight, we would have declined to include the Shrek characters in such a magazine spread."
Contacted in New York on Tuesday, Vman editor Jacob Brown declined comment.
Copyright 2012 The Hollywood Reporter