Abominable (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jill Culton|
|Written by||Jill Culton|
|Music by||Rupert Gregson-Williams|
|Cinematography||Robert Edward Crawford|
|Edited by||Susan Fitzer|
|Box office||$168.4 million|
Abominable is a 2019 computer-animated adventure film produced by DreamWorks Animation and Pearl Studio. It was written and directed by Jill Culton and co-directed by Todd Wilderman, and stars the voices of Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin, and Michelle Wong. The film follows a teenage girl named Yi, who encounters a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building in Shanghai, names him Everest and embarks on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth along with her mischievous friends Jin and Peng, but the trio of friends will have to stay one-step ahead of Burnish, a wealthy man intent on capturing a Yeti, and zoologist Dr. Zara to help Everest get home.
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019, and was released by Universal Pictures in the United States on September 27, 2019 while Pearl Studio distributed the film in China. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and has grossed $168 million worldwide. In Southeast Asia, Abominable has garnered controversy for a scene involving a map of the region with the Nine-Dash Line, a contested demarcation line used by China to lay claim over a portion of the South China Sea. Due to this, the film has been banned in several countries involved in territorial disputes with China over the South China Sea—namely, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
A young Yeti escapes from a compound in Shanghai owned by wealthy businessman Mr Burnish (Eddie Izzard), who intends to use him to prove the existence of yetis to the world. Meanwhile, teenager Yi (Chloe Bennet) lives with her mother Yi (Michelle Wong) and Nai Nai (Tsai Chin) in an apartment building. She lives a busy life and neglects to spend time with her family and her friends, football fan Peng (Albert Tsai) and the tech-savvy and popular Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor). Yi is also a violinist who misses her late father, who was also a violinist.
One evening, Yi encounters the Yeti near her cubby house on the roof of her Shanghai apartment building, which she names "Everest." While hiding him from Burnish Industries' helicopters, Yi gains his trust by feeding him Baozi and treating his wounds. Yi learns that Everest wants to reunite with his family on Mount Everest while Everest learns about Yi's desire to travel across China. When Burnish Industries' private security forces closes in on Everest' hiding place, Everest flees with Yi. After narrowly escaping a Burnish helicopter at the Oriental Pearl Tower, Yi and Everest flee on a ship carrying red cola cans, followed by Peng and a reluctant Jin.
Yi, Everest, and the boys reach a port in southern China and travel on a truck. After their crate falls off the truck, they end up in a forest. There, Everest awes the humans with his mystical powers of stimulating growth among blueberry plants. Meanwhile, Mr Burnish and the zoologist Dr. Zara (Sarah Paulson) continue the hunt for Everest. Following Everest and his human friends' trail, they catch up with them in the Sichuan region but Everest uses his power to cause a plant to grow to a gigantic size. While Yi, Everest, and Peng manage to escape on the wind-blown shoot, Jin is left behind and captured by Burnish Industries' Goon Leader (Richard Dietl).
Despite Dr. Zara's outward love for animals, Jin learns that she is planning to hunt down and kill the yeti for medical research. He also learns that the seemingly cold–hearted Mr Burnish has a soft spot for animals including Dr. Zara's pet jerboa. Meanwhile, Yi, Everest and Peng reach the Gobi Desert where they befriend several tortoises, who gratefully accept their giant shoot. Later, they travel to a town on the banks of the Yellow River but Burnish Industries corners them. Peng helps them escape by unleashing a yak stampede. With the help of Jin, they escape across the Yellow River to a field of yellow flowers, which Everest causes to blossom to gargantuan sizes.
Continuing their journey, the humans and Everest eventually reach the Himalayas. While crossing a bridge, they are trapped on both sides by Burnish Industries' forces. However, Mr Burnish experiences a change of heart after seeing Everest protecting the children; causing him to experience a flashback to his first encounter with the yeti which was protecting its young. Seeking to exploit Everest for scientific research, Dr Zara injects Mr Burnish with a tranquilizer before tranquilizing Everest as well. When Yi tries to protect Everest, Dr Zara throws her over the bridge. Burnish Industries then departs the mountain with the captive Everest, Peng, and Jin in tow.
However, Yi manages to cling on to a rope. She then uses her violin, which Everest has magically repaired, to summon ice which reinvigorates Everest, who breaks free of his cage. Dr Zara makes a last-ditch attempt to kill Everest but the poacher is herself killed along with the Goon Leader in a self-triggered avalanche. To protect Everest and the yetis from humanity, Mr Burnish agrees to help Yi, Peng, and Jin keep his existence a secret. Yi, Peng, Jin, and Everest continue the journey to Mount Everest where they reunite Everest with his family.
Returning home to Shanghai with the help of Mr Burnish, Yi spends more time with her mother, grandmother, Peng, and Jin.
- Chloe Bennet as Yi, a violin-playing teenager.
- Albert Tsai as Peng, a friend of Yi.
- Tenzing Norgay Trainor as Jin, a friend of Yi.
- Eddie Izzard as Burnish, a wealthy man who wants to catch a Yeti.
- Sarah Paulson as Dr. Zara, a poacher posing as a zoologist who works with Burnish.
- Tsai Chin as Nai Nai
- Michelle Wong as Yi's mother 
- Rich Dietl as Goon Leader
- James Hong as Yak Leader
- Christine Lin as Teenage Girl #1, Boy's Mother, Female Customer
- Kym Miller as Teenage Girl #2
- Jason Ko as Teenage Boy
- Trevor Devall as Van Driver
- Karen Huie as Dog Lady, Doc Worker
- Vic Chao as Jin Impersonator
- Fernando Chien as Merchant
- Rupert Gregson-Williams as Everest Humming
Abominable was in development at DreamWorks Animation since 2010. For some time, Jill Culton was writing and directing the film, originally titled Everest, which was about a little girl and a Yeti, but by 2016, she had left the project. She was then replaced by Tim Johnson and Todd Wilderman.
In December 2016, DreamWorks announced that the film would be released on September 27, 2019, and that it would be co-produced by Oriental DreamWorks (now Pearl Studio), marking their second collaboration after Kung Fu Panda 3. On February 2, 2018, it was announced that Culton had returned as the director, replacing Johnson. On March 20, 2018, it was announced that Chloe Bennet has been cast in the lead role as Yi. On May 18, 2018, DreamWorks and Pearl Studio have announced that the film has been retitled from Everest to Abominable, and Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, and Tsai Chin were cast the following month.
The film's music was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams who had previously collaborated with the studio on Over the Hedge and Bee Movie. Also featured on the soundtrack is an original song titled "Beautiful Life" sung by American musician, Bebe Rexha. The soundtrack was released digitally on September 13, 2019 by Back Lot Music.
Abominable had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019. The film was released on September 27, 2019 in the United States and on October 11 in the United Kingdom by Universal Pictures. Universal also handles worldwide distribution alongside various regional partners except for China, where the film was solely distributed by co-producer Pearl Studio, who (under their former name of Oriental DreamWorks) had distributed all of DreamWorks Animation's films in the country since the partnership began.
Abominable is scheduled to be released on digital and Movies Anywhere by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on December 3, 2019, with Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and DVD releases scheduled to follow on December 17. All releases will include the short film Marooned, which had previously been screened at the 2019 Annecy International Animated Film Festival and as part of a cross-promotion between DreamWorks Animation and AMC Theatres. The 4K Ultra HD version will additionally use HDR10+, making it Universal's second animated film to use the format after The Secret Life of Pets 2 and the sixth overall.
As of November 13, 2019[update], Abominable has grossed $59.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $109 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $168.4 million, against a production budget of $75 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was projected to gross $17–20 million from 4,200 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $5.7 million on its first day, including $650,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $20.9 million, finishing first at the box office and marking the best opening for an original animated film of 2019. The film made $12 million in its second weekend, finishing second behind newcomer Joker.
Rotten Tomatoes reported that 83% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 139 reviews, with an average rating of 6.68/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Working with admittedly familiar ingredients, Abominable offers audiences a beautifully animated and overall engaging adventure that the whole family can enjoy." On Metacritic, the film has an weighted average score of 61 out of 100 based on 28 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 4 out of 5 stars.
Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com gave Abominable two out of five stars, opining that it "lack[ed] the personality to distinguish it from superior animated films that cover most of the same ground." Similarly, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film 2.5 out of five stars, likening it to How to Train Your Dragon. While praising Yi's violin music and the animated scenes featuring whooping snakes and Everest' visual wonders, he thought that Abominable failed to distinguish itself in a crowded market. Glenn Kenny of The New York Times praised the film for its "exceptionally watchable and amiable" story and animated visual effects.
Clarissa Loughrey of The Independent gave Abominable three out of five stars, describing the film as "occasionally original, but not quite daring enough." She also praised the director Jill Culton for writing Yi as a grounded and authentic female protagonist while avoiding forcing her to prove herself and shoe-horned romances. Nick De Semiyen of Empire magazine awarded Abominable three out of five stars. He praised the film for its first female animated film director Culton, female lead character Yi, and for embracing its Chinese milieu including Yi's grandma Nai Nai. However, he observed that the film brought nothing new to the animation genre but praised it for incorporating a reference to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave Abominable two out of five stars, regarding the yeti as a bland character and observing the film's similarities to How to Train Your Dragon and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. By contrast, Simran Hans of The Observer gave the film a more favorable review, awarding it three out of five stars. She praised the film for its animation effects of the yeti's magical powers and also likened the film to How to Train Your Dragon.
The film was banned in Vietnam on October 14, 2019, ten days after its release, due to the appearance of the Nine-Dash Line in a scene. The Philippines and Malaysia also reacted negatively to this scene. Filipino lawyer Jay Batongbacal requested that the film be banned, while the Philippines' Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. thought it was better to cut the "offending" scene. On October 17, Malaysia ordered the scene be cut from the film through its film censorship board. However, after Universal refused to make the censor cut, the film was banned entirely in Malaysia. The following day, the Philippines' Movie and Television Review and Classification Board followed suit, also banning the film.
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