Penguins of Madagascar

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Penguins of Madagascar
Four Adélie penguins (Private, Skipper, Kowalski and Rico) standing in front of a black and white striped background, with the tagline saying: "The movie event that will blow their cover."
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Alan Schoolcraft
  • Brent Simons
  • Michael Colton
  • John Aboud
Produced by
Starring
Edited byNick Kenway
Music byLorne Balfe
Production
companies
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • November 14, 2014 (2014-11-14) (China)
  • November 26, 2014 (2014-11-26) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes[5]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$132 million[6]
Box office$373.5 million[7]

Penguins of Madagascar (also known as Penguins of Madagascar: The Movie) is a 2014 American animated spy action comedy film[8] produced by DreamWorks Animation and PDI/DreamWorks and distributed by 20th Century Fox. A spin-off of the Madagascar franchise, and the fourth film overall in the series, the film was directed by series director Eric Darnell[9] and Simon J. Smith from a screenplay written by Brandon Sawyer and the writing team of Michael Colton and John Aboud,[2] based on a story conceived by Colton, Aboud, Alan Schoolcraft, and Brent Simons. Despite the title of the film, it is not directly related to the Nickelodeon animated television series The Penguins of Madagascar. Starring the voices of Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, Peter Stormare and John Malkovich, it takes place directly after the events of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012),[10] following the adventures of four Adélie penguins - Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private - as they join forces with the North Wind intelligence agency to stop the Giant Pacific octopus Dave, who seeks revenge on all Adélie penguins across the Earth for being upstaged by capturing them.[8]

Development of a direct-to-video (DTV) spin-off film featuring the four penguins began following the release of the first Madagascar film in 2005, initially planned for a 2009 release date, but did not come to fruition until March 2011, when it was announced that the penguins would be given their own theatrical film instead. By 2012, DreamWorks Animation announced that the film would be released in March 2015 before being pushed forward to November 2014 in May of that year. Cumberbatch and Malkovich signed in August 2013. Lorne Balfe composed the score, and Pitbull performed a song featuring DJ Frank E.

Penguins of Madagascar was released theatrically in China on November 14, 2014, and in the United States on November 26, 2014.[2] The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with specific praise going to the vocal performances (particularly Cumberbatch and Malkovich), but despite grossing $373.5 million on a $132 million budget, the film underperformed by DreamWorks' standards and lost the studio $57.1 million, along with Mr. Peabody and Sherman earlier that year.[11] This is the final DreamWorks Animation film to be produced by PDI/DreamWorks before its closure on January 22, 2015, with DreamWorks Animation (DWA) Glendale taking over.[12]

Plot[edit]

In Antarctica, penguin chicks Skipper, Rico, and Kowalski, upon seeing a runaway egg roll away from their colony, rescue it from leopard seals on an abandoned whaling ship and are set adrift on an iceberg. When the egg hatches, the trio adopt the chick as their brother, Private.

Ten years later, after defeating Captain DuBois,[a] the penguins temporarily leave their new home of Circus Zaragoza to celebrate Private's birthday by breaking into Fort Knox to get Cheesy Dibbles from a vending machine, despite Private's real wish of being recognized as an official team member. The penguins are subsequently kidnapped and taken to a submarine, where they are confronted by Dave, a Giant Pacific octopus who was once the star attraction at Central Park Zoo until the penguins upstaged him with their cuteness. After being repeatedly passed between zoos and aquariums, and each time being upstaged by penguins, a bitter Dave disguised himself as a human scientist named Dr. Octavius Brine to enact his revenge. Rico swallows a vial of Dave's bioweapon – the Medusa Serum – and his snow globe collection before the penguins escape.

Fleeing through Venice while being pursued by Dave's henchmen, the penguins are rescued by the North Wind, an inter-species intelligence agency consisting of British Eurasian wolf leader Classified, Norwegian polar bear muscle Corporal, Belgian harp seal demolitionist Short Fuse, and Russian snowy owl intelligence analyst Eva. After Rico shows the North Wind the Medusa Serum, Dave hacks into the North Wind's computers to reveal he has made more of it. Deeming Skipper's team a liability to the mission, Classified darts them and puts them on a plane bound for Madagascar.

The penguins escape the plane, and, using Dave's snow globes, realize Dave is targeting every zoo and aquarium he was kicked out of and kidnapping their penguins, with the Shanghai Zoo as his next target. Skipper's team forms a plan to stop Dave, and Private reluctantly agrees to be the bait. The other penguins manage to trap Dave with a dinosaur skeleton after creating a water leak in the aquarium, just as the North Wind shows up. However, Dave escapes through a drain and captures the Shanghai penguins along with Private. Skipper, Rico, and Kowalski hijack the North Wind's jet to pursue him, accidentally destroying it. At Dave's lair, Private learns that Dave is planning to use the Medusa Serum to turn penguins into mindless, disfigured monsters, so that the public will hate and exterminate them.

Upon reaching Dave's hideout, the penguins and the North Wind clash over their different plans to infiltrate the submarine, before Skipper finally relents and goes with the North Wind's plan. The penguins distract the octopus guards while the North Wind sneak inside, but both teams are captured. Dave tests the Medusa Serum on Private, but he escapes at the last second using a paper clip he swallowed earlier, causing everyone present to believe Private has been vaporized. Private finds and frees the North Wind, but they refuse to help without their equipment, so Private heads off to rescue the penguins alone.

Dave uses the Medusa Serum to transform all the penguins, and, as Dr. Brine, unleashes them on New York City. In the chaos, Private obtains Dave's ray, finds Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico, and restores their sanity. As the penguins and the North Wind battle Dave and his henchmen, Private inserts himself into Dave's ray, using the power of his cuteness to restore the other penguins to normal. This leaves Private mutated, and Dave shrunk and trapped inside one of his snow globes, which a little girl plays with. For his heroism, Private finally earns his place as a qualified member of the team. Classified congratulates the penguins and apologizes for his earlier behavior. As a reward, the North Wind gives the penguins jetpacks, which they use to fly back to Circus Zaragoza.

In a mid-credits scene, the penguins and King Julien hook Mort up to Dave's ray and use his cuteness to restore Private to normal. As the penguins leave to celebrate, King Julien expresses disappointment that Mort has not shown any monster qualities, until the latter swallows him whole.

Cast[edit]

John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch talking at the Penguins of Madagascar panel at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International

Alex, Melman and Gloria also appear through Shadow cameos

Production[edit]

A direct-to-video spin-off feature film featuring the Madagascar penguin characters had been in the works since 2005, when the first film was released, with a release date initially planned for 2009.[20] Years later, DreamWorks Animation announced in March 2011 that the penguins would be given their own theatrical film, directed by Simon J. Smith (the co-director of DreamWorks' Bee Movie) produced by Lara Breay, and written by Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons (the writers of DreamWorks' Megamind).[21][22]

At the July 2012 Comic-Con, DreamWorks Animation announced that the film, then titled The Penguins of Madagascar, would be released in 2015.[23] Bob Schooley, one of the developers of The Penguins of Madagascar series on Nickelodeon, said that the film would be unrelated to the TV series of the same name, but added that that could always change.[24] In early September 2012, 20th Century Fox - the studio's new distributor - and DreamWorks Animation announced the film's release date of March 27, 2015 and a new team of screenwriters for the film, Michael Colton and John Aboud.[25] Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich joined the cast in August 2013.[2] Malkovich, who had been offered the role of Dr. Octavius Brine three and a half years before the film's release, told an audience at the July 2014 Comic-Con that he thought that it "was a funny idea" to use his voice for an octopus.[26]

Music[edit]

On January 8, 2014, Lorne Balfe was announced to compose the film's musical score, in his first solo debut in a DreamWorks Animation film.[27][28] The soundtrack album was released digitally on November 21, 2014, five days before the film's theatrical release, and through CDs on December 5, by Relativity Music Group. Additionally, it featured a special edition bonus track, that consisted the musical score as well as tracks from the extended play, Penguins of Madagascar: Black & White Christmas Album, which featured five holiday songs and was released by Relativity Music Group on November 24, 2014.[29] Pitbull performed a non-album single titled "Celebrate" for the film, which was played during the film's end credits, and released as a part of his eighth studio album Globalization.[30][31]

Release[edit]

Theatrical[edit]

Penguins of Madagascar was originally scheduled to be released on March 27, 2015.[25] On May 20, 2014, the film's release date was moved up to November 26, 2014 from its initial March 27, 2015 date, switching places with DreamWorks Animation's other film Home.[32] Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation's CEO, explained that the film, coming from one of DWA's most successful franchises, would have an easier task to stand out around the Thanksgiving holiday season while Home was to try taking advantage of a less competitive spring release window and repeat successful spring launches of some of DWA's original films, such as The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon.[33] The film was released two weeks earlier in China on November 14, 2014, where it was released by Oriental DreamWorks.[34]

The film was released in RealD 3D, 4DX and Digital 3D formats.[4] It was digitally remastered into the IMAX format, and released in select theaters across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.[35] A four-issue comic book series based on the film was published by Titan Comics, written by Alex Matthews and drawn by Lucas Fereyra.[36]

Home media[edit]

Penguins of Madagascar was released on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on March 17, 2015.[37] It topped the home video sales chart in its first week.[38]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Penguins of Madagascar grossed $83.4 million in North America and $290.2 million in foreign countries for a worldwide total of $373.6 million.[7] The film's production budget was $132 million, which, according to the DreamWorks Animation's president Ann Dally, excluded "incentive-based compensation."[6] By the end of 2014, the studio had to take a $57.1 million write-down, primarily related to the performances of Penguins of Madagascar and another DreamWorks Animation film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman.[11][39]

In the United States and Canada, Penguins of Madagascar was released alongside Horrible Bosses 2, and was projected to $45-47 million from 3,764 theatres over its five-day opening weekend.[40] It earned $6.25 million on its opening day and $3.95 million the next day on Thanksgiving Day.[41] It earned $10.5 million on Black Friday.[42][43] The film underperformed during its opening weekend, earning $35.4 million and debuting at #2 at the box office behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, for which 3D accounted for 24% of its opening-weekend gross.[43] The opening-weekend audience was nearly evenly split by age and gender, with 58% under the age of 25 and females accounting for 51%.[44]

The film was released in China on November 14,[34] two weeks ahead of its North American debut, and earned $11.3 million from 3,500 screens, debuting at number two at the Chinese box office behind Interstellar ($42 million).[45] In its opening weekend, the film earned $36.5 million from 47 markets.[46] Overall, the top openings were in Russia ($8.2 million), Korea ($6 million), Italy ($4.63 million), Germany ($4.2 million), and Australia ($3.68 million).[47][48] The film's opening in Germany was the second-highest for an animated film in 2014, behind How to Train Your Dragon 2.[47]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Penguins of Madagascar holds an approval rating of 74% based on 117 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Penguins of Madagascar is fast and brightly colored enough to entertain small children, but too frantically silly to offer real filmgoing fun for the whole family."[49] On Metacritic, the film achieved a score of 53 out of 100 based on reviews from 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[50] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[43]

Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News gave the film three out of five stars, saying "Granted, it's no classic, but a sassy script and good-natured voice work from Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich should keep kids and grownups entertained over the holidays."[51] Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club gave the film a B, saying "Frenetic and frequently funny, Penguins Of Madagascar represents the DreamWorks Animation franchise style—which boils down to self-aware, but naïve, talking animals who learn kid-friendly life lessons—at its most palatable."[52] Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, saying "The lack of originality is offset by sheer silliness, including Classified and Skipper's Abbott and Costello-style argument over whether there's a long I in 'diversion.' The word fits the movie."[53]

Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Once again the Madagascar team have come up with a winner – a nice way to kick off the Thanksgiving and holiday filmgoing experience for the whole family."[54] Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, saying "While there are plenty of madcap antics to fill a feature, all that manic energy ultimately proves to be more exhausting than exhilarating."[55] Jeff Labrecque of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C−, saying "Penguins of Madagascar aims primarily for the kiddies, racing from one frenetic action sequence to another like some haywire Walter Lantz cartoon."[56]

Accolades[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Award/Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
42nd Annie Awards[57] Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Production Mitul Patel, Nicolas Delbecq, Santosh Khedkar and Yash Argawal Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Ravi Kamble Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Craig Kellman, Joe Moshier, Stevie Lewis and Todd Kurosawa Nominated
51st Cinema Audio Society Awards[58] Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Picture - Animated Tighe Sheldon, Paul N.J. Ottosson, Dennis Sands and Randy K. Singer Nominated
28th Kids' Choice Awards[59] Favorite Animated Movie Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith Nominated
11th St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards[60] Best Animated Film Nominated

Soundtrack[edit]

Lorne Balfe composed the original score for the film,[29] making it his first solo debut in a DreamWorks Animation film. Balfe wrote the additional music for the previous two Madagascar films and helped Madagascar composer Hans Zimmer with the score for Megamind. The soundtrack was released on November 21, 2014, by Relativity Music Group.[29] Relativity also released an EP, Penguins of Madagascar: Black & White Christmas Album, which featured five holiday songs.[29] Pitbull performed a song titled "Celebrate" for the film, which was played during the credits. A music video of the song was also released on YouTube in October 21, 2014.

Video game[edit]

A video game based on the film, titled Penguins of Madagascar, and published by Little Orbit, was released on November 25, 2014, for Nintendo 3DS, Wii, and Wii U.[61]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As depicted at the end of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)

References[edit]

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External links[edit]