Mr. Popper's Penguins (film)

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Mr. Popper's Penguins
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark Waters
Produced by John Davis
Screenplay by Sean Anders
John Morris
Jared Stern
Based on Mr. Popper's Penguins
by Richard Atwater
Florence Atwater
Music by Rolfe Kent
Cinematography Florian Ballhaus
Edited by Bruce Green
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 17, 2011 (2011-06-17)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $55 million[1]
Box office $187.3 million[2]

Mr. Popper's Penguins is a 2011 American comedy film distributed by 20th Century Fox, directed by Mark Waters, produced by John Davis, co-produced by Davis Entertainment Company and Dune Entertainment, written by Sean Anders, John Morris and Jared Stern with music by Rolfe Kent and starring Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Madeline Carroll, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Angela Lansbury, Desmin Borges, Philip Baker Hall, Dominic Chianese, Clark Gregg, Ophelia Lovibond, Jeffrey Tambor, David Krumholtz, Henry Keleman, Dylan Clark Marshall with Frank Welker and James Tupper. It was loosely based on the children's book of the same name. The film was originally slated for a release on August 12, 2011, but was moved up to June 17, 2011.[3] The film received mixed reviews from critics and it earned $187.3 million on a $55 million budget.


Thomas Popper is a divorced real estate entrepreneur whose father traveled around the world during his childhood in the 1970s. He learns that his father has died during an adventure to Antarctica. The following week, a crate containing a gentoo penguin, named Captain, shows up at his door as a souvenir from his father’s last adventure. A few days later, five more penguins arrive. Popper intends to give them away but changes his idea when his children, Janie and Billy, think that the animals are Billy's birthday present. At work, Popper is given the task of buying Tavern on the Green, the only privately owned real estate in Central Park that is an old restaurant where he used to eat with his father when he was a child. However, its elderly owner, Selma Van Gundy, will only sell it to a person of true value. Popper has unsuccessful meetings with her, and she refuses to sell the restaurant to him. Having the penguins around helps Popper become closer to his children. He also begins dating their mother, Amanda Popper again. The penguins lay three eggs. Two eggs hatch, and one doesn’t. Popper becomes obsessed with seeing the last egg hatch, losing his job. Popper realizes that the egg can’t be hatched so he decides to donate the penguins to the New York Zoo. Then, he is re-employed but his children and former wife are disappointed by his decision. Popper finds a lost letter from his father telling him to hold his children close and love them. Popper asks his children and former wife to help him get the penguins back from the zoo. They find the penguins, free them and they get away and flee to the tavern. Upon seeing how Popper had reunited his family and saved the penguins, Van Gundy sells him the restaurant. Popper decides to renovate and reopen the restaurant. Popper and his family travel to Antarctica with the penguins, allowing them to live with their own kind. Popper's first penguin, Captain, reveals to have laid another egg. Popper tells his children that they'll visit them when the baby is born.



Originally, Ben Stiller was supposed to play Mr. Popper, and Noah Baumbach was originally going to direct, but they dropped out. Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Jim Carrey were all considered to replace Stiller, with the role eventually going to Carrey.[4] Mark Waters was chosen to direct. Filming began in October 2010, and finished in January 2011. On September 21, 2010, it was confirmed that Carla Gugino joined the cast as Tom's former wife Amanda Popper.[5] Rhythm and Hues Studios did the penguin animations for certain shots. The musical score was ambitious, with music playing nearly throughout. It was written by Rolfe Kent, and orchestrated by Tony Blondal. It was recorded at the scoring stage at 20th Century Fox in Century City, Ca. with a 78-piece orchestra. An online Museum Slide Game created by designer Mark Kavanaugh as promotional material for the film is still accessible.[6]

The penguins portrayed in the film were a mix of real penguins and CGI.[7]


Rolfe Kent scored the music for the film and on its soundtrack. The soundtrack also contains "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, "Sweet N' Lo" written by Erwin Lehn, "Doo Wah Dooh Wah" written and performed by Syd Dale, "Set 'Em Up Joe" written by Werner Tautz, "Spin Spin" written by Steve Sidwell, "Go Get It" written and performed by Jeff Cardoni, "Piano Lounge" written by Daniel May and Marc Ferrari, "Ice Ice Baby" performed by Vanilla Ice and music from the Charles Chaplin movies.

Theatrical release[edit]

Mr. Popper's Penguins was theatrically released on June 17, 2011 by 20th Century Fox.

Critical response and box office[edit]

Carla Gugino was praised by critics for her performance

Mr. Popper's Penguins earned $6.4 million on opening day and $18.4 million over the three-day weekend, ranking in third place behind Green Lantern and Super 8. The opening was at the high end of 20th Century Fox's expectations, which was predicting a mid- to high teens opening. In its second weekend, the film faced competition from Cars 2 and dropped 45% to $10.1 million and ranked in fifth place. Over the four-day Independence Day holiday weekend, it ranked in eighth place after dropping 34% to $6.7 million. The film has earned $68,224,452 domestically and $119,137,302 in foreign countries, grossing a total of $187,361,754 worldwide.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 47% based on 142 reviews with an average rating of 5.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Blandly inoffensive and thoroughly predictable, Mr. Popper's Penguins could have been worse – but it should have been better."[8] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 53 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[9] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[10]


BMI Film & TV Awards 2012
Award Category Nominee Result
BMI Film Music Award Film Music Rolfe Kent Won
Kids' Choice Awards, USA 2012
Award Category Nominee Result
Blimp Award Favorite Movie Actor Jim Carrey For playing "Mr. Popper". Nominated
MovieGuide Awards 2012
Award Category Nominee Result
Grace Award and Best Film for Families Most Inspiring Performance in Movies Jim Carrey Nominated

Home media[edit]

Mr. Popper's Penguins was released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 6, 2011. It includes a short film called Nimrod and Stinky's Antarctic Adventure.



  1. ^ Kaufman, Amy (16 June 2011). "Movie Projector: Costly 'Green Lantern' hopes to shine in its box office debut". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  2. ^ "Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011) - Box Office Mojo".
  3. ^ Chitwood, Adam (16 December 2010). "First Set Photos of Jim Carrey in MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS". Collider. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  4. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (22 June 2010). "Ben Stiller Drops out of 'Mr. Poppers Penguins,' Jim Carrey, Jack Black & Owen Wilson Eyeing Lead Role". The Playlist. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  5. ^ Tyler, Josh (21 September 2010). "Carla Gugino Joins Mr. Popper's Penguins And Might Do Something Good After All". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  6. ^ Kavanaugh, Mark. "Museum Slide Game". Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  7. ^ Failes, Ian (29 June 2011). "Populating Mr. Popper's Penguins". FXGuide. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  9. ^ "Mr. Popper's Penguins Reviews". Metacritic.
  10. ^ "CinemaScore".

External links[edit]