Animal Crackers (2017 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Music by||Bear McCreary|
|Edited by||Ximo Romero|
|Box office||$9.5 million|
Animal Crackers is a 2017 3D computer animated comedy fantasy film, co-directed by Scott Christian Sava and Tony Bancroft, and written by Sava and Dean Lorey, based on the animal shaped cookie. The film stars the voices of John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Danny DeVito, Ian McKellen, Sylvester Stallone, Raven-Symoné, Patrick Warburton, and Wallace Shawn.
The film premiered at the 2017 Annecy International Animation Film Festival on June 12, 2017. Originally intended to be released on April 28, 2017, then on September 1, 2017, the film was dropped on both release dates due to the financial difficulties of multiple distributors. It was first released in China on July 21, 2018.
In 1962, brothers Bob and Horatio run a traveling circus, remaining on good terms despite carrying different ambitions. During a performance in Indiana, their gypsy partner Esmerelda introduces them to her daughter Talia. The two brothers are instantly infatuated by her, but Talia gradually ends up falling for Bob, slowly infuriating Horatio. When the two become engaged, Horatio tells Bob to choose between Talia or himself to spend his future with. Bob ultimately decides to stick with his heart and marries Talia. On their wedding day, Esmerelda gives the couple a mysterious box as a gift, which allows for them open a new circus; Buffalo Bob's Rootin' Tootin' Animal Circus, known for their magical animals performing defying stunts.
Years later, Bob's young nephew Owen falls for a girl named Zoe during a performance at the circus. When they grow up, Owen proposes to Zoe with a clown's red nose in the middle of the circus ring. Everyone at the circus is initially excited until Zoe's father Mr. Woodley coerces Owen into proving himself as a capable provider by leaving the circus and going to work for him at his dog biscuit factory, where he is given the position of taste testing.
Meanwhile, Horatio, whose success has been greatly depleted since his and Bob's split, begins sneaking into his brother's circus at night trying to find the secret to the magic animals; one night, he gets into a scuffle with the circus pets Old Blue and Zena, and accidentally starts a fire as a result. Owen learns later that Bob and Talia died in the fire, and he and Zoe, along with their daughter Mackenzie attend their memorial service at the burnt down circus. Horatio makes an unexpected visit at the service, announcing that he is going to take over the circus because of what he perceives to be Bob's betrayal for "stealing" Talia and severing their partnership years earlier. He and his henchmen then start a brawl, causing Owen, Zoe, and Mackenzie to flee the service.
Before they leave, however, Old Blue and Zena give them the mysterious box that allowed for the start of the circus. In the car, Owen discovers that the mysterious box holds animal crackers. During a stop, Owen inadvertently eats one of them and turns into a hamster. To figure why he turned into one, they return to the circus after finding a note explaining the cookies. They learn from clown Chesterfield that the animal crackers are the secret to the circus; they will turn the user into the animal they eat, and that it always remains full of an unlimited number of animals, but there is only one human cookie that can change them back to their normal selves. Later, he tells the couple they have inherited the circus. While Zoe is excited, Owen, still wanting to prove himself to Mr. Woodley, is resilient, and decides to remain at the dog biscuit factory. He continues his job there while Zoe restores the circus. Mr. Woodley, angered that her daughter left her job, begins to consider her and Owen's rival Brock, an egotistical saboteur, to become his successor.
Zoe persuades Owen to come to the grand re-opening of Buffalo Bob's Rootin' Tootin' Animal Circus; however, it soon turns out to be a disaster when the audience learns that there are no animals at the circus. Owen is first reluctant to do something, acknowledging he is not a performer, but is otherwise persuaded by Mackenzie, the other performers, and the dying audience. While he is first uneasy about performing stunts as an animal, he soon grows to enjoy it, and by the end of day, Owen decides to quit the dog biscuit factory, declaring that circus is his family. However, as he finishes packing up at the factory, Brock unwittingly takes the animal cracker box, eats one of the cookies and turns into a mandrill. To catch up with Brock, Owen turns into a lion, but Brock falls out of a window, where Horatio's henchman Mario Zucchini takes the box before Owen comes out and frightens him, causing him to drive off with an unconscious Brock, and leave the box.
Returning home, Owen realizes he lost the human cookie, meaning that he will be an animal forever. Zoe refuses to accept this, but has hopes that Owen can adjust to life as a certain animal. Woodley's employee Binkley, who has been trying to come up with a new type of dog biscuit, discovers the magical animal crackers, and she persuades Mr. Woodley to go to the circus to see his family. Weeks pass, and Owen is unable find a suitable animal to remain as, and the stress begins taking its toll on his relationships with Zoe and Mackenzie. One evening at the circus, Horatio arrives with Owen's human cookie (which he'd found in Brock's hand along with broken pieces of other cookies following Mario's return), offering to turn him back to normal as long as he turns over the circus to Horatio. Owen refuses, believing that he will remain an animal as long as he keeps his family together. Angered, Horatio forces Owen into the deal by bringing in his now-mutated animal henchmen, who were transformed by the broken pieces of the animal crackers Mario had taken earlier, and transforms him back by force-feeding him his human cookie.
The circus performers discover Horatio's presence immediately afterwards, and work together to fight his henchmen, giving Owen back the box in the process. However, Horatio, dissatisfied with how they use the animal crackers, eats the remaining the broken pieces in his hand and turns himself into a chimera. Old Blue and Zena then reveal themselves to be Bob and Talia, explaining that they both survived the fire, but their human cookies were destroyed, forcing them to remain animals forever, and ask Horatio to stop his evil actions, and redeem himself. Horatio refuses, grabs them and tries to fly off with them. Owen, Zoe and Mackenzie work together to save Bob and Talia, and capture Horatio, with Owen turning him into a hamster as punishment. Mr. Woodley, who saw the performance, reevaluates his views on the circus, and allows Owen and Zoe to continue working there. He and Binkley decide to rework the failed dog biscuit experiments into a new circus souvenir. Owen and Zoe now work happily at the circus, with Owen going on the stage once more as a new transformation: a dragon.
- John Krasinski as Owen Huntington, MacKenzie's father, Zoe's husband, Horiato and Buffalo Bob's nephew and the circus owner
- Brendan Sava as a young Owen
- Emily Blunt as Zoe Huntington, MacKenzie's mother and Owen's wife
- Noelle Ellison Thomason as a young Zoe
- Lydia Rose Taylor as Mackenzie Huntington, Owen and Zoe's daughter.
- Ian McKellen as Horatio P. Huntington, Buffalo Bob's brother and Owen's uncle.
- Danny DeVito as Chesterfield
- Sylvester Stallone as Bullet-Man
- Raven-Symoné as Binkley
- Patrick Warburton as Brock
- Wallace Shawn as Mr. Woodley, Zoe's father
- Gilbert Gottfried as Mario Zucchini
- Harvey Fierstein as Esmeralda the Fortune Teller, Talia's mother 
- Tara Strong as Talia, Esmeralda's daughter and Buffalo Bob's wife.
- James Arnold Taylor as Buffalo Bob, Talia's husband, Horiato's brother and Owen's uncle and former owner of the circus.
- Kevin Grevioux as Samson the Strong Man
- Tony Bancroft as Stabby the Knife Thrower
- Anthony Sava as El Diablo the Fire Breather
- Donna Lynne Sava as Petunia the Fat Lady
- Alyssa Trama as Gretchen the Bearded Lady
In 2010, Scott Christian Sava wrote a screenplay for Animal Crackers but was unable to garner any interest. In June 2013, Harvey Weinstein had seen a short film of the screenplay made by Sava and two months later the Weinstein brothers made an offer to buy the rights to Animal Crackers. Sava co-directed the movie with Tony Bancroft and co-wrote the screenplay with Dean Lorey.
Financing the movie were executive producers Mu Yedong on behalf of Wen Hua Dongrun Investment Co., La Peikang, board chairman of China Film Co., and Sam Chi for Landmark Asia.
The voice cast was completed by casting director Jamie Thomason.
In the last week of October and throughout November, 2014, Sava via the Animal Crackers Facebook page, there were sneak peeks to the look of some characters along with announcing the voice cast for those characters Kevin Grevioux as Samson the Strong Man, James Arnold Taylor as Buffalo Bob, Tara Strong as Talia, Harvey Fierstein as Esmerelda the Fortune Teller, Gilbert Gottfried as Mario Zucchini, and Raven-Symoné as Binkley.
On November 6, 2014, Blue Dream Studios announced Sylvester Stallone, Danny DeVito, and Ian McKellen as lead voice cast. On February 3, 2015, John Krasinski and Kaley Cuoco joined the cast as Owen and Zoe Huntington, respectively. On March 30, 2015, Emily Blunt replaced Cuoco due to a scheduling conflict.
"When I was writing Animal Crackers I had specific voices in my head. Certain characters I wrote with actors in mind. Horatio was always Sir Ian McKellen. Brock was totally Patrick Warburton. Bullet-Man could be no one else but Stallone! To find out that each and every one of these actors have agreed to come on board this film and bring these characters to life... I'm flipping out," said Sava.
It was announced via Sava's Facebook page that his son, Brendan, would play 12-year-old Owen Huntington and his wife, Donna, would play the Fat Lady. On May 22, 2015, it was revealed that Wallace Shawn had been cast as Mr. Woodley, Zoe's (Blunt) father.
The film had its world premiere in competition at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival on June 12, 2017. The film was originally set to be released on April 28, 2017 by Relativity Media, however, a financial crisis within the company prevented them from releasing the film. It was then set to be released on September 1, 2017 by upstart film studio Serafini Releasing before they also shut down. A few months later, in November 2017, it was announced that Entertainment Studios would distribute the film worldwide. In April, Sava posted on Facebook that film was set for a release date of August 10, 2018. The deal with Entertainment Studios was dropped in June 2018, however, and the film is currently without a domestic distributor. The film was released in China on July 21, 2018. Eventually Sava managed to regain the film's rights and currently has the film scheduled for release on August 30, 2019.
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