Charlotte's Web (2006 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gary Winick|
|Produced by||Jordan Kerner|
by E. B. White
|Narrated by||Sam Shepard|
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$144.9 million|
Charlotte's Web is a 2006 American live-action/computer-animated comedy-drama film based on E. B. White’s 1952 children’s novel of the same name. Directed by Gary Winick and written by Susannah Grant and Karey Kirkpatrick, it is the second film adaptation of White's book following a 1973 cel-animated version produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions. The film stars Dakota Fanning, Kevin Anderson, Beau Bridges and Louis Corbett with voices provided by Dominic Scott Kay, Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey, Cedric the Entertainer, Kathy Bates and Thomas Haden Church.
Produced by Walden Media, The K Entertainment Company and Nickelodeon Movies, the film premiered in Australia on December 7, 2006 and was released theatrically by Paramount Pictures on December 15, 2006 in the United States. The film grossed $144.9 million against an $85 million budget.
On a farm in Somerset County, Maine, Fern Arable finds her father John about to kill the runt of a litter of newborn pigs and successfully begs her father to spare the piglet's life prompting John to give the piglet to Fern which she nurtures the piglet lovingly and naming him Wilbur. To her regret, when Wilbur has matured, Fern is forced to take him to her uncle Homer Zuckerman whose barnyard he is left yearning for companionship but is despised by other barn animals until he is befriended by Charlotte, a spider who lives in the space above Wilbur's sty in the Zuckermans' barn. When the other animals reveal to Wilbur that he will be prepared for dinner in due time, Charlotte promises to hatch a plan guaranteed to spare Wilbur's life.
With the help of the other barn animals including a comedic rat named Templeton, Charlotte convinces the Zuckerman family that Wilbur is actually quite special, by spelling out descriptions of him in her web: "Some pig", "Terrific", "Radiant", and "Humble". She gives her full name to be Charlotte A. Cavatica, revealing her to be a barn spider, an orb-weaver spider with the scientific name Araneus cavaticus.
The Arables, Zuckermans, Wilbur, Charlotte, and Templeton go to a fair, where Wilbur is entered in a contest. While there, Charlotte produces an egg sac containing her unborn offspring, and Wilbur, despite winning no prizes, is later celebrated by the fair's staff and visitors (thus made too prestigious alive, to justify killing him). Exhausted from laying eggs, Charlotte cannot return home because she is dying. Wilbur bids an emotional farewell to her as she remains at the fair and dies shortly after Wilbur's departure, but Wilbur manages to take her egg sac home, where hundreds of offspring emerge. Most of the young spiders soon leave, but three, named Joy, Aranea, and Nellie, stay and become Wilbur's friends.
- Dakota Fanning as Fern Arable
- Kevin Anderson as John Arable
- Beau Bridges as Dr. Dorian
- Louis Corbett as Avery Arable
- Essie Davis as Phyllis Arable
- Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Edith Zuckerman
- Gary Basaraba as Homer Zuckerman
- Nate Mooney as Lurvy, the Zuckermans' farmhand worker
- Dominic Scott Kay as Wilbur the Spring Pig
- Julia Roberts as Charlotte A. Cavatica the Spider
- Steve Buscemi as Templeton the Rat
- John Cleese as Samuel the Sheep
- Oprah Winfrey as Gussy the Goose
- Cedric the Entertainer as Golly the Gander
- Kathy Bates as Bitsy the Cow
- Reba McEntire as Betsy the Cow
- Robert Redford as Ike the Horse
- Thomas Haden Church as Brooks the Crow
- André Benjamin as Elwyn the Crow
- Abraham Benrubi as Uncle the Pig
- Sam Shepard as the Narrator
Charlotte's Web was produced without any involvement from E. B. White's estate. It was the first film based on a book by E. B. White since 2001's The Trumpet of the Swan. Paramount had distributed the film as a result of its acquisition of DreamWorks, whose animation division became its own company in late 2004.
Major shooting was completed in May 2006. It was filmed on location in Greendale, Victoria and suburbs in Melbourne, Australia. The fair scene in the story was filmed in Heidelberg in Melbourne, Australia at Heidelberg West Football Club's football ground. The school scenes were filmed at Spotswood Primary School.
The CGI animation of the film was made by various visual effect studios such as Rising Sun Pictures, Fuel International, Proof, Rhythm and Hues Studios (who also animated 1999's Stuart Little, another film based on an E. B. White book as well as its 2002 sequel), Digital Pictures Iloura and Tippett Studio. The visual effects supervisor for the film was John Berton, who noted that a live-action version of Charlotte's Web has become much more practical in recent years due to advances in technology. Winick "was adamant" that Charlotte and Templeton (the film's two entirely computer-generated characters) should be realistic and not stylized, although they did give Charlotte almond-shaped eyes. John Dietz, visual effects supervisor for Rising Sun Pictures, notes that there was a debate over whether to give her a mouth and that in the end, they decided to have her chelicerae move in what he describes as being almost like a veil as if there were a mouth behind it.
The film was scheduled for a June 2006 release, but was pushed back to December 15, 2006 to avoid competition with two other films from Nickelodeon Movies - Nacho Libre and Barnyard - as well as Over the Hedge, Cars and Monster House (which also starred Steve Buscemi) among other animated films.
Charlotte's Web was released on DVD on April 3, 2007 in the United States and Canada and on May 28 in the United Kingdom. It was released on Blu-ray on March 29, 2011 along with The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. The film was then re-released on DVD on January 24, 2017.
Reviews were generally positive, especially with respect to Dakota Fanning's portrayal of Fern. The film currently holds a 79% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, saying that "Kids will be entertained by the straightforward plot and cute animals, and adults will be charmed by how quiet and humble the production is, a fine translation of E.B. White's genteel prose." Michael Medved gave Charlotte's Web three and a half stars (out of four) calling it "irresistible" and "glowing with goodness". Medved also said that Dakota Fanning's performance was "delightfully spunky". Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman complains that the film is "a bit noisy" but applauds the director for putting "the book, in all its glorious tall-tale reverence, right up on screen." He goes on to say that "What hooks you from the start is Dakota Fanning's unfussy passion as Fern."
Colm Andrew of the Manx Independent gave the film 6/10, saying that the main problem was "the ultra-cute characterisation of Wilbur, resulting in half the audience rooting for his demise" although overall it was "a competent retelling of a classic story that won't offend".
The film debuted in third place at the box office with only $11 million. The film performed very well after spending 14 weeks in theaters for a total of $82 million, $61 million elsewhere, for a total of $144 million before closing on March 22, 2007.
|Film score by Danny Elfman|
|Danny Elfman chronology|
Charlotte's Web: Music from the Motion Picture was released by Sony Classical on December 5, 2006. In addition to the instrumental score by Danny Elfman, the soundtrack includes a song named "Ordinary Miracle" by Sarah McLachlan, which she herself performed during the opening ceremonies of her hometown Vancouver Winter Olympics. A CD compilation of "Music Inspired by the Motion Picture" was issued on December 12, 2006.
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- Peszko, J. Paul (December 19, 2006). "Spinning A New Charlotte's Web". VFXWorld. AWN, Inc. Retrieved July 30, 2008.
- "Charlotte's Web (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- Medved, Michael (December 15, 2006). "Charlotte's Web". Michael Medved's Eye on Entertainment. MichaelMedved.com. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2006.
- Gleiberman, Owen (December 15, 2006). "Movie Review: Charlotte's Web". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 18, 2006.
- Review by Colm Andrew, IOM Today
- "Charlotte's Web". Variety. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
- "Charlotte's Web Box Shot for PlayStation 2 - GameFAQs". www.gamefaqs.com. Retrieved July 13, 2016.