Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
Legend of the Guardians film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byZack Snyder
Screenplay by
Based onGuardians of Ga'Hoole
by Kathryn Lasky
Produced byZareh Nalbandian
Edited byDavid Burrows
Music byDavid Hirschfelder
Distributed by
Release date
  • September 24, 2010 (2010-09-24) (North America)
Running time
97 minutes[2]
Budget$80 million[5]
Box office$140.1 million[6]

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a 2010 3D computer-animated fantasy-adventure family film directed by Zack Snyder. Based on the Guardians of Ga'Hoole book series by Kathryn Lasky, the film was written by John Orloff and Emil Stern and features the voices of Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Ryan Kwanten, Anthony LaPaglia, Miriam Margolyes, Sam Neill, Richard Roxburgh and David Wenham. The film was produced and developed by Village Roadshow Pictures and Animal Logic, following their success with the 2006 film Happy Feet.

Legend of the Guardians was theatrically released in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D in North America on September 24, 2010, and in Australia on September 30, 2010 by Warner Bros. Pictures; it was accompanied by a new 3D Looney Tunes cartoon entitled Fur of Flying. It grossed $140 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics, who praised its voice performances, visual effects and tone but criticized its story and characters.


Soren, a young barn owl, lives in the Tyto Forest with his family. Soren enjoys listening to his father's stories of the "Guardians of Ga'Hoole," valiant warrior owls led by Lyze of Kiel who fought against the evil Pure Ones, but his older brother Kludd does not believe them. When their father starts teaching them how to fly, Kludd becomes jealous of Soren and pushes him off a branch while their parents are out hunting, causing them both to fall to the ground. They are attacked by a Tasmanian devil, but are saved (and subsequently kidnapped) by Jatt and Jutt, two owls who work for the Pure Ones.

At a facility called the St. Aegolius Home for Orphaned Owls, the Pure Ones' queen Nyra greets the brothers and several other owls who have been kidnapped and says that they will become either soldiers or pickers (owls who pick through owl pellets and find little bits of magnetic metal called "flecks" that are used to build a superweapon). Kludd becomes a soldier while Soren and Gylfie, a young elf owl, become pickers and are forced to be "moon-blinked," but they resist. A boreal owl named Grimble teaches them to fly and tells them to find the Great Tree of Ga'Hoole, but Nyra finds out and kills him. Soren and Gylfie escape and soon meet Digger, a burrowing owl, and Twilight, a great grey owl. While resting in their hollow, Soren is reunited with Mrs. P, a blind snake who is his family's nest maid, who was captured by Twilight while searching for Soren and Kludd. She agrees to go with them and find the Guardians.

The owls fly towards the sea of Hoolemere where some crows guide them to the legendary shrine of the Guardians, guarded by an oracular echidna who sends the owls out to sea to find the Island of Ga'Hoole. While flying, the band encounters a fierce storm and Digger's wings freeze, causing him to fall into the sea and nearly drown, but they are saved by Boron and Barran, a pair of snowy owls who are the king and queen of the Guardians. They lead the party to the Great Tree of Ga'Hoole, where Soren tells the Guardians about the Pure Ones' plans. The Guardians are skeptical, but an elderly screech owl named Ezylryb is convinced and Boron sends a great grey owl called Allomere out with two scouts to investigate St. Aegolius.

The owls stay in the Tree of Ga'Hoole for a long time and are looked after by a young Guardian-in-training named Otulissa, a short-eared owl whom Soren develops a crush on. During a flying lesson in the middle of a rainstorm, Soren grasps a brief hold on gizzard-flying (flying purely with instinct), but loses control and falls towards the sea. Ezylryb rescues him and orders Soren back to his hollow, where he learns that Ezylryb is really Lyze of Kiel, who fought and defeated Metal Beak, Nyra's mate. Ezylryb explains to Soren that battle isn’t about glory or heroism, but doing what is right. Allomere returns from his scouting mission with news that his two wingmen were killed in an ambush. He brings back two moon-blinked owlets, one of which is Soren's younger sister Eglantine. The Guardians prepare for battle and fly out towards St. Aegolius; before leaving, Ezylryb instructs Soren to tend to his sister. When she finally snaps out of her trance, Eglantine tells Soren that it was Kludd who moon-blinked her and gave her to Allomere, confirming that Allomere is a traitor and that the Guardians are actually flying into a trap. The owls fly back to St. Aegolius where they find Metal Beak holding the Guardians captive in a machine powered by "flecks" guarded by bats.

Twilight, Gylfie and Digger fend off the bats sent by Metal Beak to kill the Guardians, and Metal Beak has Allomere taken away by several bats. Meanwhile, Soren navigates his way through a forest fire by successfully gizzard-flying and manages to disable the fleck trap by burning the wooden winch holding the lids of the fleck containers up, slamming them shut and nullifying their effects. The Guardians and Twilight fly into battle and Ezylryb goes straight for Metal Beak and Nyra, who nearly overpower him. Soren joins the battle after he sees Kludd, but Kludd attacks him; they engage in a fight that culminates in Kludd falling into the fire below, presumably killing him. Furious at his brother's apparent death and betrayal, Soren grabs a flaming branch and stabs Metal Beak to death, saving Ezlyryb. Nyra, shocked at her mate's death, retreats with the remaining Pure Ones, vowing revenge on the Guardians.

When they return to the tree, Soren and the others are initiated as new Guardians by Boron and Barran. Some time later, Soren tells the story to a group of owlets, revealing that Nyra is still out there with a contingent of Pure Ones and Kludd's body was never retrieved. Meanwhile, back in the smoking remains of the canyons, a shadowy figure with glowing red eyes is seen looking at Metal Beak's body and mask. The film ends with Ezylryb and the owls flying off into another storm.

Voice cast[edit]



Warner Bros. acquired the rights to produce a computer-animated film to the book series Guardians of Ga'Hoole by Kathyrn Lasky in June 2005. Donald De Line was set to produce the film and Lasky was set to write the screenplay.[7] In April 2008, Zack Snyder signed on as director, Zareh Nalbandian took over as producer and a new screenplay was written by John Orloff and Emil Stern.[8] Production began in Australia in February 2009.[9]


The film's animation process took place at Animal Logic's headquarters in Sydney, Australia. A team of over 500 artists, technicians and support staff were amassed to design and animate 15 unique species of owls, as well as other forest creatures such as snakes, crows, bats, centipedes, bees, beetles, moths, a hermit crab, a Tasmanian devil, and an echidna.[10]

The animated end credits sequence shows the adventures of Soren, Gylfie, Digger and Twilight as told by the young owls as if they were putting on a shadow play performance in the Great Tree. This idea was conceived by Felicity Coonan and took around three months to animate. Coonan wanted the sequence to be a playful experiment in 2D and 3D, as the classic storytelling form of shadow puppets is a 2D medium. The credits were designed to be legible without 3D glasses.[11]


Much of the cast was announced in the early months of 2009. Hugh Jackman, Hugo Weaving and Ryan Kwanten were announced in January; Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Rachael Taylor, and David Wenham in February; and Emilie de Ravin in March. The rest of the cast was announced in November 2009, including Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Jay Laga’aia, Miriam Margolyes, Helen Mirren, and Sam Neill who replaced Jackman as the role of Allomere. However, like Jackman, both Taylor and Ravin were also no longer in the film. Laga’aia was also going to voice Twilight but was replaced by Anthony LaPaglia.


Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole was theatrically released in the United States on September 24, 2010, and in Australia on September 30, 2010. After Warner Bros. ended its long-time distribution deal with Village Roadshow in Australia at the end of 2020, Warner Bros. Pictures distributed the film worldwide, with Roadshow Entertainment (via Village Roadshow Pictures) distributing in Australia and New Zealand.

Home media[edit]

The 2010 Region 1 DVD includes a documentary featurette about owls, entitled True Guardians of the Earth, featuring ornithologists and conservationists, and presented by child actor Rico Rodriguez and character Digger the Owl (voiced by David Wenham). The cartoon Fur of Flying is also included on the DVD.

Video game[edit]

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment released a video game based on the film for the Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo DS platforms on September 14, 2010. The game was developed by Krome Studios for Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 while the Nintendo DS version was developed by Tantalus Media.[12]


Box office[edit]

In the US it took in $5.5 million on opening day, ranking third at the box office in the US. It ranked second on Saturday, earning $6 million, and was No. 1 on Sunday, earning $4.6 million (US). Overall, it earned $16,112,211 on its opening weekend, reaching second place at the box office behind Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in America. This makes Legend of the Guardians Zack Snyder's first film not to reach No. 1 on its opening weekend in the US.

In its second weekend, the film slipped 32% to $10,887,543 and held on to second place, this time behind The Social Network, claiming the title of the biggest second-weekend hold for an animated feature in 2010. The film ended its run in January 2011 with a $55.7 million domestic (US) gross.[6] The film also grossed over $84 million from its international release, bringing its global box office total to $140,073,390.[6]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 52% of 133 sampled critics gave the film positive reviews and that it has received an average rating of 5.70/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Legend of the Guardians' dark tone and dazzling visuals are to be admired, even if they're ultimately let down by a story that never lives up to its full potential."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100 based on 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[14] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film a score of 3/5 stars, describing it as a "likable family movie" and writing: "It's all very weird sometimes, but engaging: a nice half-term treat for younger children."[16] John Walsh of The Independent wrote: "The stars of this computerised epic are the Design and Art departments, who provide stunning landscapes, caves and kingdoms, and whose 3D magic is genuinely thrilling", but added: "The dark atmosphere and violent fights would scare most under-nines."[17] Stephen Cole of The Globe and Mail gave the film a score of 3/4 stars, describing it as "a splendid adventure sure to thrill children and fantasy buffs, while leaving everyone else passably entertained."[18]

Tim Robey of The Daily Telegraph gave the film a score of 2/5 stars, praising the film's visuals, but criticizing its dialogue and humor. He concluded: "We’re left with something gorgeous, turgid, and emotionally impenetrable – less a movie, more an Imax screensaver."[19] Andy Webster of The New York Times wrote that the film "may be a hoot, but for all its pyrotechnics, it fails to soar."[20] Sandra Hall of The Sydney Morning Herald wrote: "It takes a certain knack to make a film which has a sinister feel to it without being the least bit exciting but Snyder has done it with this one."[21]


Group Category Recipient Result
38th Annie Awards Animated Effects in an Animated Production[22] Sebastian Quessy Nominated
Music in a Feature Production[22] David Hirschfelder Nominated
Production Design in a Feature Production[22] Dan Hee Ryu Nominated
Voice Acting in a Feature Production[22] Geoffrey Rush Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards 2010 Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Nominated
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Nominated
Satellite Awards Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Animated Film Nominated
AACTA Awards Best Visual Effects[23] Grant Freckelton Won
Best Sound Nominated
  • Snippets of the film were shown when the company behind the animation, Animal Logic won the Byron Kennardy Award.

Possible sequel[edit]

There hasn't been anything specific around a second Legend of the Guardians at this stage. We have discussions with Warner Bros. across a range of projects; we have projects in development with them, as well as projects in development outside of Warner Bros. Legend ... lines up alongside all the projects we have, in terms of what's the most attractive, commercial proposition to do next.

— Zareh Nalbandian in an enterview with Encore

According to Animal Logic's CEO, Zareh Nalbandian, there were discussions for a sequel to Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole as of 2011, but nothing solid as to when production would begin,[24] as such a sequel would come in behind several other films Animal Logic will be producing or already is producing with Warner Bros.

Jim Sturgess and Ryan Kwanten have both said in a 2010 interview that they would reprise their roles as Soren and Kludd if a sequel ever entered production.[25]


Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Legend of the Guardians - The Owls of Ga'Hoole (soundtrack).jpg
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedSeptember 21, 2010
GenreFilm soundtrack
LabelWaterTower Music
ProducerHugh Jackman

WaterTower Music released the film's official soundtrack on September 21, 2010. The album includes thirteen score tracks composed by David Hirschfelder. The soundtrack also includes the song "To the Sky" by Owl City, performed exclusively for the film.

In popular culture[edit]

In the 30 Rock episode "Double-Edged Sword", Legend of the Guardians is the in-flight movie on the aircraft piloted by Carol (Matt Damon), who claims his passengers "... think that $300 and a photo ID gives them the right to fly through the air like the guardian owls of legend!"[26] In a 2014 episode of The Simpsons, "Specs and the City", Bart considers giving Nelson an "Owls of Ga'Hoole"–themed Valentine, finding it fitting that Nelson should get a Valentine referencing what Bart considers a bad movie.


  1. ^ a b c Goldsmith, Belinda (September 23, 2010). ""Owls of Ga'Hoole" swoop into movie with Aussie accents". Reuters – via www.reuters.com.
  2. ^ a b c "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  3. ^ "Film Distribution - Village Roadshow". Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Legend of the Guardians The Owls of Ga'hoole (2010)". British Film Institute. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  5. ^ Fritz, Ben (September 23, 2010). "Movie projector: 'Wall Street' and 'Guardians' to battle for No. 1 as 'You Again' lags". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  7. ^ "'Guardians' angel is Warner Bros". Variety. June 16, 2005. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  8. ^ Fleming, Michael (April 13, 2008). "Snyder to watch over 'Guardians'". Variety. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  9. ^ Kilday, Gregg (February 9, 2009). "Four fly to Zack Snyder's animated 'Guardians'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  10. ^ "Animal Logic » Our Work » Film". Animal Logic. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  11. ^ "Animal Logic » Our Work » Design". Animal Logic. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  12. ^ "Warner Bros. Announces Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Game". IGN. March 24, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
  13. ^ "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  14. ^ "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  15. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Holle" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  16. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (October 21, 2010). "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole – review". The Guardian. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  17. ^ Walsh, John (October 23, 2011). "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (PG)". The Independent. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  18. ^ Cole, Stephen (September 24, 2010). "Legend of the Guardians: Great fare for kids and adults". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  19. ^ Robey, Tim (October 21, 2010). "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  20. ^ Webster, Andy (September 24, 2010). "Mighty Strange Birds". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  21. ^ Hall, Sandra (September 29, 2010). "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole in 3D". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  22. ^ a b c d "The Annie Awards". December 4, 2009. Archived from the original on December 4, 2009. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  23. ^ "AACTA unveils first round of awards". Intermedia. January 15, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  24. ^ Walker, Michelle (April 5, 2011). "Zareh Nalbandian talks Animal Logic's future films". Mumbrella.com.au. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  25. ^ Gilchrist, Todd. "Telling the Epic Legend of the Guardians". Comingsoon.net. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
  26. ^ Walker, Michelle. "30 Rock Episode Recap: "Double-Edged Sword"". Squeetv.com. Archived from the original on November 9, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2012.

External links[edit]