Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Animal Logic

Animal Logic is a special effects/animation company that was founded by Zareh Nalbandian and Chris Godrey in 1991. Based out of Sydney, Australia, they started working on TV shows and commercials, but eventually moved onto movies. In 2002, they started working on their first animated movie, Happy Feet. Happy Feet was written and directed by George Miller, the same man who brought us all the Mad Max films. Seems like a weird transition, going from Australian post-apocalypse to a cartoon about penguins singing and dancing, but Miller also brought us Babe and its sequel. Miller had been shooting Mad Max 2 when he ran into a cameraman whose father was on the Shackleton expeditions, who told him he should make a movie about Antarctica, as it was as barren as most of Australia. That meeting always stuck with Miller and years later he brought it up to producer Doug Mitchell, who was able to get Warner Bros. to distribute. The movie wasn’t supposed to be made until after Mad Max: Fury Road, but geo-political complications caused Miller to put that one on the back burner until ten years later. The film utilized motion capture to give the penguins better movement when dancing, and it took an enormous amount of computers to make the movie. The animation process itself took four years, that’s how animation intensive this movie was. Happy Feet is a jukebox musical, as it includes only songs that are already well-known to the public. The movie proved to be extremely successful, grossing $384 million against a $100 million budget. It received rave reviews, most focusing on the animation, cinematography, and the message of the film. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for 2006. Miller decided after that success that he could make the sequel with his own company, so he formed Dr. D Studios, a partnership between Kennedy Miller Mitchell and Omnilab Media. It took them just as long to make the movie, but the results weren’t the same. Released in 2011, it received lukewarm reviews and ended up losing the studio $40 million. This, plus the continued delay of Mad Max: Fury Road caused Miller to close the studio.

While Dr. D Studios was defunct, Animal Logic was still going strong. Their next animated movie was Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole. Based on the book series by Kathryn Lasky, Warner Bros. had bought the rights back in 2005. Production took over three years, with a release in 2010. Interestingly enough, this film was directed by Zack Snyder, most known for his comic book adaptations. It received mediocre reviews upon release, most praising the animation but not the story. It was not a financial success for Warner Bros. or Animal Logic, as it grossed only $140 million against an $80 million budget. Animal Logic would rebound with 2014’s The Lego Movie, which I already talked about in the Warner Bros. Animation post. In between those movies they had one called Walking with Dinosaurs, which serves as a documentary of sorts. It received pretty bad reviews and failed to make a profit. Animal Logic continues to make the Lego Movies and has recently inked a deal to make six films for Imagine Entertainment.

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