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Ice Age (2002 film)

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Ice Age
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChris Wedge
Screenplay by
Story byMichael J. Wilson
Produced byLori Forte
Edited byJohn Carnochan
Music byDavid Newman
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • March 15, 2002 (2002-03-15) (United States)
Running time
81 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$59 million[1]
Box office$383.2 million[1]

Ice Age is a 2002 American animated adventure comedy film produced by Blue Sky Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox. The film was directed by Chris Wedge (in his feature directorial debut) and co-directed by Carlos Saldanha from a screenplay by Michael Berg, Michael J. Wilson, and Peter Ackerman, based on a story by Wilson. It features the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Goran Višnjić, and Jack Black. Set during the days of the Pleistocene ice age, the film centers around three main characters—Manny (Romano), a no-nonsense woolly mammoth; Sid (Leguizamo), a loudmouthed ground sloth; and Diego (Leary), a sardonic saber-toothed tiger—who come across a human baby and work together to return it to its tribe. Additionally, the film occasionally follows Scrat, a speechless "saber-toothed squirrel" (Wedge), who is perpetually searching for a place in the ground to bury his acorn.

Ice Age was originally intended as a 2D animated film developed by Fox Animation Studios, but eventually became the first full-length animated film for the newly reformed Blue Sky, which had been reshaped from a VFX house to a computer animation studio. Focus shifted from making an action-adventure drama film to a more comedy-oriented one, and several writers, such as Berg and Ackerman, were brought on to bring out a wittier tone.

The film was released in the United States on March 15, 2002. It received mostly positive reviews from critics and was nominated at the 75th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature. It was a box office success and grossed over $383.2 million, making it the eighth highest-grossing film of 2002 and the highest-grossing animated film of 2002. It started the Ice Age franchise, being followed by four sequels: Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), and Ice Age: Collision Course (2016).

A spin-off and overall sixth installment, The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, was produced by Walt Disney Pictures without the involvement of Blue Sky Studios and released as a direct-to-streaming film on Disney+ in 2022.[2] Two holiday specials were released: 2011's Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas (taking place between Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Continental Drift) and 2016's Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade (taking place between Continental Drift and Collision Course). Several Ice Age short films were released between 2002 and 2022.


A herd of prehistoric animals are migrating south to avoid a forthcoming ice age. Sid, a clumsy ground sloth, is left behind by his family and chases the herd by himself, but is attacked by an angry pair of brontotheres after he interrupts their meal. Sid is reluctantly rescued by Manny, a surly woolly mammoth who did not migrate with the others; Sid insists upon following Manny, but the latter wishes to be alone and is constantly annoyed by Sid's outgoing demeanor.

Some time before these events, a human tribe hunted and killed half of a Smilodon pack for their pelts. Soto, the leader of the surviving saber-toothed tigers, leads a raid on the human camp, intending to take his revenge by personally killing Roshan, the infant son of the chief. Soto's lieutenant, Diego, is tasked with bringing the baby to Soto alive; however, Roshan's mother flees with her son, leaping over a waterfall. Soto punishes Diego for his failure, ordering him to pursue Roshan and bring him back alive, or else be killed in Roshan's place.

Sid and Manny encounter Roshan and his injured mother in the river at the bottom of the falls. The woman leaves the baby with them, but is washed away. Sid attempts to return the baby to the human settlement, but finds the camp deserted. Diego appears and offers to take the baby off Sid and Manny's hands; mistrusting him, Manny orders Diego to track the humans for them instead. Diego complies, but one night, he secretly sends word back to Soto that he is bringing both the baby and a mammoth for the pack to eat.

After several misadventures and bonding moments, the "herd" of three travels through an ice cave and discovers some human cave paintings. These give Manny a flashback to when his family was killed by human hunters; however, he has become deeply attached to Roshan in spite of this. Diego, beginning to second-guess his mission, decides to change sides completely after Manny saves his life from a lava flow. He informs Sid and Manny of Soto's pack waiting to ambush them at Half Peak; though the pair remain skeptical, he convinces them their only chance is to trust him.

Sid, Manny, and Diego concoct a scheme to trick the pack of cats and escape. This initially works, but Soto and two others manage to corner Manny at a cliff edge. Diego jumps in to fight Soto and save Manny, and is severely injured in the process. Soto is thrown against an overhanging rock, dislodging several large icicles which fall and impale him; the rest of the pack flee.

As Sid and Manny grieve for Diego, he convinces them to leave him and return the baby to the humans before the mountain passes fill with snow. Manny and Sid catch up to the humans and Roshan reunites with his father, who gifts Manny a shell and bead necklace. Diego limps back to join them, mostly recovered, and the trio finally migrate south with the rest of the animals.




Ice Age was originally pitched to 20th Century Fox in 1997 by producer Lori Forte.[4] The film, originally envisioned as a traditionally animated movie with an action-oriented comedy-drama tone, was intended to be developed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman's Fox Animation Studios.[4] Around the same time, Blue Sky Studios, a small visual effects studio in White Plains, New York, was bought out by Fox and reshaped into a full-fledged CG animation film studio.[5] In light of this, Fox Animation head Chris Meledandri and executive producer Steve Bannerman approached Forte with the proposition of developing the film as a computer-animated movie, which Forte realized was "basically a no-brainer", according to her.[4]

Michael J. Wilson, who had written and developed the film's original story treatments in conjunction with Forte, wrote the first draft for the script, and Chris Wedge, a co-founder of Blue Sky, was brought on to the project as the director in late 1998.[4] Fox also opted for the movie to take a more comedy-oriented direction, and brought writer Michael Berg to help emphasize a more comedic tone. After being hired, Berg reportedly told the studio that he couldn't write a film made for children, to which the studio responded, "Great! Just write a good story."[4]

Story development began in spring 1999,[6] and official production on the film began in June 2000, one week after the closure of Fox Animation Studios.[7] 150 employees were hired to work on the film,[7][8] and a budget of $58 million was granted by Fox.[4] Peter Ackerman was hired as a third writer for the film, and collaborated extensively with Berg for three years before the two eventually moved on from the project. Jon Vitti and Mike Reiss, both former writers for The Simpsons, were added later on after Berg and Ackerman left to further polish the script.[4]

For research, the film's development team took several trips to the Museum of Natural History early on in production in order to make sure that the film authentically felt like the Ice Age.[9] Ultimately, the team translated the information that they had compiled in their research by stylizing it in order to fit with the film's story.[10] A team of 32 animators went out and did research to figure out the movements of different animals; for instance, for the movement of Scrat, animators visited a park and observed local squirrels, taking note of their "twitchy" way of moving.[6]

Writing and character development

Michael J. Wilson stated on his blog that his daughter Flora came up with the idea for an animal that was a mixture of both squirrel and rat, naming it Scrat, and that the animal was obsessed with pursuing his acorn.[11] The plan to have Scrat talk was quickly dropped, as he worked better as a silent character for comedic effect. The name 'Scrat' is a combination of the words 'squirrel' and 'rat', as Scrat has characteristics of both species. Wedge has also called him "saber-toothed squirrel".

Scrat's opening adventure was inserted because, without it, the first real snow and ice sequence wouldn't take place until about 37 minutes into the film. This was the only role intended for Scrat, but he proved to be such a popular character with test audiences that he was given more scenes. The filmmakers made it so that many of the scenes with Scrat appear directly after dramatic moments in the film.

In a 2012 interview with Jay Leno, Denis Leary revealed that his character, Diego, originally died near the end of the film. However, it was reported that kids in the test audience burst into tears when his death was shown. Leary warned the producers that something like this would happen. When it was proven true, the scene was re-written to ensure Diego survived.

Originally, Sid was supposed to be a con-artist and a hustler, and there was a finished scene of the character conning some aardvark kids. His character was later changed to a talkative-clumsy sloth because the team felt the audience would have disliked him. There was an alternate scene of Sid in the hottub with the ladies which shows him saying to them "Let's jump in the gene pool and see what happens." One of the female sloths then kicks him in the groin. This was cut because it was not suitable for children and may have gotten the film a PG-13 rating. Other innuendos with Sid were cut from the film. Sid was supposed to have a female sloth named Sylvia, voiced by Kristen Johnston, chasing after him, whom he despised and kept ditching. All the removed scenes can be seen on the DVD.


The characters and environments in Ice Age were modeled and animated using WaveFront's Maya animation software. Rendering was completed using CGI Studio, an in-house ray tracing program being developed since Blue Sky's formation in 1987 and previously used for Wedge's 1998 short film, Bunny. While Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, released three months before Ice Age, became the first computer-animated film to make use of ray tracing technology, Ice Age would have received the distinction had it been released at the time Blue Sky began work on the movie.[6]

In order to keep the film at a more exciting pace, the development team took certain liberties with Sid in terms of realism. Although real-life ground sloths were slow-moving and rigid, Sid was given a fast movement speed in certain scenes, as well as a more flexible range of motions. Conversely, the character's arm movements were more restricted in order to retain a sense of laziness true to the nature of sloths. Manny was a particularly difficult character to animate due to his unique attributes as a mammoth, such as his long fur and massive trunks that covered up his face.[12]

Dealing with a creature which had seldom appeared in animation at the time, the team needed to figure out how Manny would realistically move with character designer Pete DeSeve explaining that "a wooly mammoth isn't simply an elephant with long fur". According to co-director Carlos Saldanha, Diego was one of the most complexly animated characters in the movie, with some scenes showing off his high movement speed as a sabre-toothed tiger while others kept his movement more contained and focused on his facial expressions to carry the moment.[12]

Voice casting

The voice cast of Ice Age was encouraged to make up their own dialogue during recording. Several lines in the film were improvised by the actors.[13]

For Manny, the studio was initially looking at people with big voices.[14] James Earl Jones and Ving Rhames were considered, but they sounded too obvious and Wedge wanted more comedy.[15][16] Instead, the role was given to Ray Romano because they thought his voice sounded very elephant-like. Wedge described Romano's voice as deep and slow in delivery, but also with a "sarcastic wit behind it."[16]

John Leguizamo, who provided the voice for Sid, experimented with over 40 voices for the character, including a slower-sounding voice to fit with the lazy nature of a giant sloth. Leguizamo came up with the final voice and trademark lateral lisp for the character after watching footage of sloths and learning that they store food in the pockets of their mouths which ferments over time.[17] Leguizamo remarked in an interview with BBC that he had wanted to contribute to an animated project for a while, claiming that cartoon voice actor Mel Blanc was "one of my comedy Gods" and a large source of inspiration for him as a child.[18]


The official soundtrack to Ice Age was released on May 14, 2002, by Varèse Sarabande. The soundtrack consists of the original musical score composed for the film by David Newman and performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony. The song "Send Me on My Way" by Rusted Root is also featured in the film but is absent from the album.[19]


Box office

Ice Age was released on March 15, 2002, and had a $46.3 million opening weekend, a large number not usually seen until the summer season, and way ahead of Fox's most optimistic projection of about $30 million. It ranked number one at the box office during its first weekend, beating out Resident Evil, Showtime and The Time Machine.[20] Ice Age broke Liar Liar's record for a March opening (later surpassed in 2006 by its sequel, Ice Age: The Meltdown) and at the time was the third-best opening ever for an animated feature—after Monsters, Inc. ($62.6 million) and Toy Story 2 ($57.4 million).[21]

Ice Age finished its domestic box office run with $176,387,405 and grossed $383,257,136 worldwide, being the 9th highest gross of 2002 in North America and the 8th best worldwide at the time.[1] It was one of the two animated films of that year to make over $100 million, with the other one being Lilo & Stitch.[22]

Critical response

Ice Age holds a 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 168 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's consensus reads: "Even though Ice Age is treading over the same grounds as Monsters, Inc. and Shrek, it has enough wit and laughs to stand on its own."[23] Similar site Metacritic had a score of 61% out of 34 reviews, meaning "generally favorable reviews".[24] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and wrote "I came to scoff and stayed to smile".[25] Elvis Mitchell of the New York Times called the film a "blandly likeable computer-animation extravaganza", comparing the film's plot to the Western film 3 Godfathers.[26]

According to CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave Ice Age an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[27]


Ice Age was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003, losing to Spirited Away.[28][29]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Home media

The initial home video release for Ice Age was accompanied by an $85 million marketing campaign involving promotional partnerships with 14 different companies,[31] including Microsoft, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr., Dole, Langer's, Valpak, Cold Stone Creamery, and the National Hockey League.[32] The movie was released on 2-disc DVD, VHS and D-Theater[33] in November 2002. All three releases included Gone Nutty, a short film starring Scrat and detailing his further antics as he tries to bury his acorn.[34]

The DVD release was THX certified and gave the viewer the option of viewing the film in either widescreen or pan and scan fullscreen.[35] Another single disc release was released in February 2005 to promote both the announcement of the film's sequel and Robots,[36]

In early 2005, the film received a two-disc "Extreme Cool Edition" exclusively to the UK,[37] Australia, and Germany.[38] This release retains all of the bonus features missing on original international releases, such as games and the Bunny short film, a DTS audio track, a higher bitrate and a sneak preview to Robots. The release also comes with a trading card featuring the latter film's protagonist, Rodney Copperbottom, and a new feature called "Extreme Cool View" where throughout the film, facts about the film and the Ice Age would be shown, along with interviews from the cast and crew and featurettes on how they make the movie. A similar version would be released to the US in March 2006, titled the "Super Cool Edition",[39] albeit not including the DTS track.

The film was released on Blu-ray in March 2008, and beside Gone Nutty, it included 9 minutes of deleted scenes.[40]

Ice Age was included on The Walt Disney Company's streaming service Disney+ in March 2020 with an upgraded 4K version.[41] However, there has yet to be plans for an Ultra HD Blu-ray release.

Video game

A tie-in video game was developed by Artificial Mind and Movement and published by Ubisoft for the Game Boy Advance. A platform game, it has the player controlling Sid and Manny through 10 levels as they carry Roshan. The game holds an aggregate ranking of 46.00% on GameRankings[42] and 47/100 on Metacritic.[43]


Since the release of Ice Age, several sequels have followed. Ice Age: The Meltdown, the first sequel, was released in March 2006, following the main characters trying to escape a massive flooding due to global warming, as well as Manny's concern over whether or not his species is going extinct. A third installment, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, was released in 2009, followed by a fourth film, Ice Age: Continental Drift, in 2012. The fifth and latest installment, Ice Age: Collision Course, was released in 2016.[44]

With the release of Collision Course, the Ice Age series became the first computer-animated movie franchise to house five theatrical installments, not including spinoffs.[45] The sequels suffered a decline in critical reception, but were still box-office successes.

Following Disney's purchase of 20th Century Fox in 2019 and the closure of Blue Sky Studios in 2021, a spin-off film titled The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild and produced by Walt Disney Pictures was released directly to streaming on Disney+ in 2022.

See also


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  10. ^ The Making of Ice Age (DVD). 20th Century Fox. November 26, 2002. Event occurs at 1:00. What we ended up doing was stylizing quite a bit- we took what we had learned in our research, and we just kinda styled it up to suit our story.
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External links