Rango (2011 film)

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Rango, a green chameleon, holding Mr. Timms, a large plastic orange fish, in old west town, Dirt.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGore Verbinski
Screenplay byJohn Logan
Story by
Produced by
CinematographyRoger Deakins
Edited byCraig Wood
Music byHans Zimmer
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • February 14, 2011 (2011-02-14) (Westwood)
  • March 4, 2011 (2011-03-04) (United States)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$135 million[1][2]
Box office$245.7 million[1]

Rango is a 2011 American animated Western comedy film directed by Gore Verbinski from a screenplay by John Logan. Co-produced by Verbinski with Graham King and John B. Carls, the film stars the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Stephen Root, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, and Timothy Olyphant. The film's plot centers on Rango (Depp), a pet chameleon who accidentally ends up in the town of Dirt, an outpost that is in desperate need of a new sheriff. Rango was produced by Nickelodeon Movies, Verbinski's Blind Wink Productions, and King's GK Films, and distributed by Paramount Pictures, with the animation provided by Industrial Light & Magic.[3]

Rango premiered at Westwood on February 14, 2011, and was released in the United States on March 4, 2011. The film was both a major critical and commercial success, grossing $245.7 million against a budget of $135 million. At the 84th Academy Awards, the film won Best Animated Feature.


A theatrically-minded pet chameleon becomes stranded in the Mojave Desert of Nevada after his terrarium accidentally falls out of his owners' car. Seeking shelter, he learns from a nine-banded armadillo named Roadkill, who is seeking the mystical "Spirit of the West", and tells the chameleon of an Old West desert town called Dirt, where water comes in through a mysterious rite on Wednesdays.

Seeing no other options, the chameleon heads out into the desert. There, he narrowly avoids being eaten by a vicious red-tailed hawk before meeting Beans, a desert iguana rancher, who takes him to Dirt.

Asked about his identity, the chameleon presents himself to the townsfolk as a tough drifter named "Rango" and quickly runs afoul of Gila monster Bad Bill, who challenges him to a duel. The hawk interrupts the duel and chases Rango, who accidentally knocks over an empty water tower and crushes the hawk to death. Believing he did so intentionally, the townsfolk praise Rango, who is appointed as the new sheriff by Dirt's desert tortoise Mayor John. Meanwhile, the townsfolk worry that with the hawk dead, the infamous gunslinger Rattlesnake Jake will return.

With the town desperate for water during a drought, Beans demands that Rango investigates where the water has gone and in doing so, he inadvertently helps a gang of prairie dogs bank robbers, led by a mole named Balthazar, to steal the water supply. Rango organizes a posse that later finds the banker, Mr. Merrimack, dead in the middle of the desert. The posse tracks the robbers to their hideout, where they fight Balthazar's bat-riding clan over the stolen water bottle before discovering it to be empty. The robbers profess that they found it like that, but Rango still takes them into custody.

After being questioned by Rango about his buying of the land around Dirt, John brings in Rattlesnake Jake, who runs him out of town after forcing him to admit his lies to the townsfolk. Dejected, Rango returns to the highway, where he passes out after he crosses to the other side. He eventually meets the Spirit of the West, an elderly Man with No Name, who advises him to go back to Dirt and set things right, telling him that "No man can walk out on his own story".

With the aid of Roadkill and mystical moving yuccas, Rango discovers an emergency shut-off valve in a water pipeline to Las Vegas. John has been manipulating it to cause the water shortage so he could buy the land for himself.

With a single bullet, Rango returns to Dirt and challenges Jake to a duel, a diversion to allow the yuccas to restore the town's water and Rango to make his resolve clear to Jake. However, John and his men force Rango to surrender by threatening Beans' life before attempting to drown the duo inside the bank's vault.

John then tries to shoot Jake with Rango's gun – believing that both he and Rango represent too much of the old traditions – but finds Rango has taken the sole bullet, which he uses to shatter the vault's glass door, freeing himself and Beans. Impressed, Jake salutes Rango for proving his heroism before carrying John off into the desert to take his revenge for this act of betrayal. The citizens of Dirt celebrate the return of their water supply, and Rango, now a true hero.

Voice cast[edit]

The likeness of Benicio del Toro is briefly used to represent his character of Dr. Gonzo from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in a cameo appearance, alongside Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke.


The filming was described as "emotion capture" as the actors shot their scenes in live action for the animators to use as reference.[11][12] During production, the actors and actresses received costumes and sets in order to "give them the feel of the Wild West". Star Johnny Depp had 20 days in which to voice Rango, and the filmmakers scheduled the supporting actors to interact with him.[13] Verbinski said his attempt with Rango was to do a "small" film after the first three large-scale Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but that he underestimated how painstaking, time-consuming and expensive animated filmmaking is.[3][13] Paramount stepped in at the last possible minute as Verbinski's slim financing was about to run out.[14]

Unlike many studio animation projects produced since Avatar, Rango was rendered in 2D, not 3D, as the budget would not allow for it and Verbinski did not want to do a "half-assed 3D".[14]

The film contains a number of references to movie Westerns and other films, including The Shakiest Gun in the West, A Fistful of Dollars, Chinatown, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, Cat Ballou, Raising Arizona, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas;[15] as well as references to earlier ILM work including the dogfight in the Death Star trench in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.[16] Verbinski has also cited El Topo as an influence on the film.[17]

In a discussion about the nature of contemporary animated features, Verbinski said in December 2011:

There are shackles with the budgets and the profit margins. You want to compete with what they're doing at Pixar and DreamWorks. There's a price tag with that just in terms of achieving that quality level. What happened to the Ralph Bakshis of the world? We're all sitting here talking about family entertainment. Does animation have to be family entertainment? I think at that cost, yes. There's the bull's-eye you have to hit, but when you miss it by a little bit and you do something interesting, the bull's-eye is going to move. Audiences want something new; they just can't articulate what.[18]



Rango's teaser trailer was released on June 9, 2010,[19] alongside the film's official site RangoMovie.com.[20] It depicted an open desert highway and Mr. Timms, Rango's orange, wind-up plastic fish floating slowly across the road.[21] On June 28, 2010, the first poster was released showing the main character Rango.[4] A two-minute film trailer was released June 29, 2010.[22][23] Another trailer was released December 14, 2010.[24] A 30-second spot was made specifically to run during Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011.[25]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 15, 2011.[26][27] The release had been produced as a two-disc Blu-ray, DVD, and "Digital Copy" combo pack with both the theatrical and an extended version of the film, cast and crew commentary, deleted scenes, and featurettes.[28][29][30]

The extended version adds a final scene in which the flooded town is now a beach resort renamed Mud and Rango rides out to deal with news that Bad Bill is causing trouble elsewhere.

A 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray SteelBook is scheduled for release on June 4, 2024.


Box office[edit]

Rango earned $123,477,607 in North America and $122,246,996 in other countries for a total $245,724,603.[1] It is the 24th-highest-grossing film of 2011 worldwide.[31]

In North America, Rango debuted in 3,917 theaters, grossing $9,608,091 on its first day and $38,079,323 during its opening weekend, ranking number one at the box office.[1] Even though the film dropped into second place behind Battle: Los Angeles the following week, it would go on to outgross the weaker opening of Disney's animated flop, Mars Needs Moms.[32] On March 26, 2011, it became the first film of 2011 to cross the $100 million mark in North America.[33]

In markets outside North America, during its first weekend, it earned $16,770,243 in 33 countries.[34] It topped the international box office two times in March 2011.[35][36] Although the film did not double its budget, it was declared a success by Paramount which subsequently announced the formation of its own animation department.[37]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 88% of 228 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Rango is a smart, giddily creative burst of beautifully animated entertainment, and Johnny Depp gives a colorful vocal performance as a household pet in an unfamiliar world."[38] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 75 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[39] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[40][41][42]

Richard Corliss of Time applauded the "savvy humor" and called the voice actors "flat-out flawless".[43] He later named it one of the 10 best movies of 2011, saying, "In a strong year for animation ... Rango was the coolest, funniest and dagnab-orneriest of the bunch."[44] Bob Mondello of National Public Radio observed that "Rango's not just a kiddie-flick (though it has enough silly slapstick to qualify as a pretty good one). It's a real movie lover's movie, conceived as a Blazing Saddles-like comic commentary on genre that's as back-lot savvy as it is light in the saddle."[5] Frank Lovece of Film Journal International, noting the nervous but improvising hero's resemblance to the Don Knotts character in The Shakiest Gun in the West, echoed this, saying that "with healthy doses of Carlos Castaneda, Sergio Leone, Chuck Jones and Chinatown ... this [is] the kid-movie equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino picture. There's no gory violence or swearing, of course, but there sure is a film buff's parade of great movie moments."[45] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars calling the film "some kind of a miracle: An animated comedy for smart moviegoers, wonderfully made, great to look at, wickedly satirical ... The movie respects the tradition of painstakingly drawn animated classics, and does interesting things with space and perspective with its wild action sequences."[46]

After praising "the brilliance of its visuals", Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal wrote, "The narrative isn't really dramatic, ... [but] more like a succession of picturesque notions that might have flowed from DreamWorks or Pixar while their story departments were out to lunch."[47]

In one of the more negative reviews, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune acknowledged its "considerable care and craft" but called it "completely soulless" and that watching it "with a big suburban preview audience was instructive. Not much laughter. Moans and sobs of pre-teen fright whenever Rattlesnake Jake slithered into view, threatening murder."[48]

Smoking controversy[edit]

The Sacramento, California-based anti-smoking organization Breathe California regards the film a "public health hazard"; it said there were at least 60 instances of smoking in the film.[49] Because of this, some anti-smoking organizations, including Breathe California, petitioned for the film to receive an R rating instead of the original PG rating received by the Motion Picture Association of America. However, no change was made to the smoking scenes and the film maintained its PG rating.[50]


List of awards and nominations
Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards Best Animated Film Gore Verbinski Won
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Animated Film Won
Best Animated Female Isla Fisher Won
American Cinema Editors Best Edited Animated Feature Film Craig Wood Won
Annie Awards Best Animated Feature Won
Animated Effects in an Animated Production Chase Cooper Nominated
Willi Geiger Nominated
Character Design in a Feature Production Mark "Crash" McCreery Won
Directing in a Feature Production Gore Verbinski Nominated
Storyboarding in a Feature Production Delia Gosman Nominated
Josh Hayes Nominated
Writing in a Feature Production John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Ward Byrkit Won
Editing in a Feature Production Craig Wood Won
BAFTA Best Animated Film Gore Verbinski Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Animated Film Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Animated Feature Gore Verbinski Won
Golden Globes Awards Best Animated Feature Film Nominated
Hollywood Film Festival Best Animated Won
IGN Best of 2011 Best Animated Movie Won
International Film Music Critics Association Best Original Score for an Animated Feature Hans Zimmer Nominated
Kids Choice Awards Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Johnny Depp Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Film Won
Motion Picture Sound Editors Best Sound Editing in an Animation Feature Film Nominated
National Board of Review Awards Best Animated Feature Won
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Feature Won
People's Choice Awards[51] Favorite Movie Animated Voice Johnny Depp Won
Producers Guild of America Awards Best Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures John B. Carls, Gore Verbinski Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Feature Won
Satellite Awards Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Animated Film Nominated
Teen Choice Awards[52] Choice Movie Animated Voice Johnny Depp Won
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Visual Effects Society[53] Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Tim Alexander, Hal Hickel, Jacqui Lopez, Katie Lynch Won
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Frank Gravatt, Kevin Martel, Brian Paik, Steve Walton Won
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture John Bell, Polly Ing, Martin Murphy, Russell Paul Won
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Colin Benoit, Philippe Rebours, Nelson Sepulveda, Nick Walker Won

Video games[edit]

Electronic Arts released a video game of the same name based on the film. It is rated E10+ and was released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, and Wii.[54]

Funtactix launched Rango: The World, a browser-based virtual world set in the Rango universe, on March 4, 2011, the day of the film's release.[55][56]


The score was composed by Verbinski's frequent collaborator, Hans Zimmer and features contributions from songwriter and actor Rick Garcia, Latin rock band Los Lobos, and hardcore punk/industrial band Lard.[57][58]

Non-original music includes "Finale", composed by Danny Elfman for the 2007 film The Kingdom, as well as excerpts of Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", Johann Strauss II's "The Blue Danube", and Hank Williams cover of "Cool Water".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Rango (2011)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  2. ^ Kaufman, Amy (March 3, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Rango' expected to shoot down the competition". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 7, 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Moody, Annemarie. "ILM Jumps to Features with Rango", Animation World Network, September 12, 2008. WebCitation archive
  4. ^ a b Billington, Alex (June 28, 2010). "Posters: Introducing: Johnny Depp as a Western Chameleon in Rango!". FirstShowing.net. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2018. Additional on March 6, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Mondello, Bob. "Ride 'Em, Chameleon! 'Rango' A Wild, Wacky Western", NPR.org, March 4, 2011. WebCitation archive.
  6. ^ C., Sonja (March 4, 2011). "Abigail Breslin in Rango". Scholastic Corporation. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved May 31, 2013. My character in Rango is Priscilla. She is a cactus mouse and the technically [sic] term is an Aye-aye ...
  7. ^ Donald Schultz, Gore Verbinski, "Real Creatures of Dirt", Rango DVD. Schultz: "She represents one of the strangest looking creatures on our planet. She's not from the desert or the United States at all..." Verbinski: "[Character designer] Crash [McCreery] went and did the research and found the aye-aye ... which doesn't really belong in this particular desert."
  8. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew. "'Rango' and the rise of kidult-oriented animation", Salon.com, March 2, 2011. WebCitation archive.
  9. ^ della Cava, Marco R. "'Rango' team can't be caged", USA Today, March 4, 2011, p. 1D. WebCitation archive
  10. ^ a b Coyle, Jake (March 4, 2011). "Movie review: 'Rango'". Associated Press via NorthJersey.com. Archived from the original on October 1, 2012.
  11. ^ "See a Behind-the-Scenes Feature for Johnny Depp's Rango - Clickable". December 23, 2010.
  12. ^ "How 'RANGO' could change the game in animation". The Washington Post. March 11, 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Vejvoda, Jim. "What Exactly is Rango?", IGN.com, June 30, 2010. WebCitation archive
  14. ^ a b Appelo, Tim (February 1, 2012). "The Making of 'Rango': Gore Verbinski's Risky Ride Into Animation". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 24, 2021.
  15. ^ Breznican, Anthony (March 6, 2011). "Johnny Depp's 'Rango': Its top six riffs on classic movies". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  16. ^ The DVD director's commentary track mentions Star Wars during this sequence.
  17. ^ Taylor, Drew (February 13, 2012). "'Rango' Director Gore Verbinski Reveals The Top Ten Inspirations Of His Oscar-Contending Animated Feature Film". Indiewire.com. Archived from the original on February 7, 2018. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
  18. ^ Verbinski in "THR's Animation Roundtable: 7 Top Filmmakers Debate R-Rated Toons and If 'Tintin' Should Be Eligible for Ani[mation] Oscar". The Hollywood Reporter. December 22, 2011. Archived from the original on February 28, 2012.
  19. ^ O'Hara, Helen (June 9, 2010). "First Baffling Rango Glimpse Is Here". Empire.
  20. ^ Gallagher, Brian. "Rango Announcement Teaser and Official Site Launch" Archived December 24, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, MovieWeb, June 9, 2010. WebCitation archive.
  21. ^ Rango – Movie Trailers – iTunes
  22. ^ Young, John. "'Rango': A peek behind the scenes of Johnny Depp's epic lizard western", Entertainment Weekly, June 30, 2010. WebCitation archive.
  23. ^ De Semlyen, Phil (June 29, 2010). "Rango Trailer Online". Empire.
  24. ^ Raup, Jordan. "Theatrical Trailer For Gore Verbinski's 'Rango' Starring Johnny Depp" Archived December 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, TheFilmStage.com, December 14, 2010. WebCitation archive.
  25. ^ "Rango (Big Game Spot) (2011)", VideoDetective.com, February 7, 2011. WebCitation archive.
  26. ^ Tom Woodward (May 11, 2011). "Paramount Home Entertainment has announced DVD and Blu-ray releases". DVD Active. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  27. ^ Stahler, Kelsea (May 9, 2011). "'Rango' Comes to Blu-ray and DVD in July". Hollywood.com. Archived from the original on October 2, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  28. ^ Gallagher, Brian (May 9, 2011). "Rango Blu-ray and DVD Arrive July 15th". Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  29. ^ "Rango with Johnny Depp Blu-ray Release Date and Details". TheHDRoom.com. May 10, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  30. ^ "Rango Rounded Up". IGN.com. May 9, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  31. ^ "2011 Worldwide Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 23, 2023.
  32. ^ Barnes, Brooks (March 13, 2011). "'Mars Needs Moms' ... and Paying Customers". The New York Times.
  33. ^ Gray, Brandon (March 28, 2011). "Weekend Report: 'Wimpy Kid' Blindsides 'Sucker Punch'". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  34. ^ Segers, Frank (March 6, 2011). "'King's Speech' Nabs No. 1 at Int'l Weekend Box Office With $19.4 Million". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011.. .
  35. ^ "Overseas Total Box Office March 11–13, 2011". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on June 23, 2011. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
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  37. ^ Semigran, Aly (July 6, 2011). "Riding high off the success of 'Rango,' Paramount Pictures to launch in-house animation division". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
  38. ^ "Rango". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved January 20, 2024. Edit this at Wikidata
  39. ^ "Rango (2011)". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  40. ^ McClintock, Pamela (March 4, 2011). "'Rango' Wins Friday Box Office With $9.8 Mil". The Hollywood Reporter. moviegoers gave the toon a C+ CinemaScore. Paramount insiders say the CinemaScore could reflect the fact that Rango is a notch more sophisticated than most toons, sparking debate among moviegoers.
  41. ^ Young, John (March 6, 2011). "Box office report: 'Rango' is No. 1 with $38 mil". Entertainment Weekly. Rango garnered a dispiriting "C+" grade from CinemaScore audiences. Adults, in particular, didn't enjoy the ride, with those 25 and up rating the movie a "C."
  42. ^ John Young (March 20, 2011). "Box office report: 'Limitless' conquers weekend with $19 mil". Entertainment Weekly. appears to be benefiting from positive word-of-mouth despite its puzzling "C+" CinemaScore rating.
  43. ^ Corliss, Richard (March 14, 2011). "Rango Review: Depp Plays Clint the Chameleon in Year's Coolest Film". Time. Archived from the original on November 29, 2017.
  44. ^ Corliss, Richard (December 7, 2011). "The Top 10 Everything of 2011 – Rango". Time. Archived from the original on December 15, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
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  46. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 2, 2011). "Rango walks tall. For a lizard, especially". Chicago Sun-Times. RogerEbert.com.
  47. ^ Morgenstern, Joe (March 4, 2011). "Lizard Tale 'Rango': Clever, Coldblooded". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
  48. ^ Phillips, Michael (March 2, 2011). "'Rango' sells its soul for live-action". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 28, 2011.
  49. ^ Rubin, Rita (March 7, 2011). "'Rango' Has Smoking Foes Fuming". USA Today. Archived from the original on April 11, 2016.
  50. ^ Pomerantz, Dorothy (March 15, 2011). "Should 'Rango' Have Been Rated R?". Forbes.
  51. ^ Nominations Announced for the 'People's Choice Awards 2012'
  52. ^ Ng, Philiana (July 19, 2011). "Teen Choice Awards 2011: 'Pretty Little Liars,' Rebecca Black Added to List of Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
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  55. ^ "Rango: The WORLD". Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  56. ^ Harrison, Alexa (February 10, 2011). "'Rango' range extends online". Variety. Reed Elsevier Inc. Archived from the original on February 22, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  57. ^ "Rango [Soundtrack]". Amazon. March 15, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  58. ^ "Rango – Music From The Motion Picture". Anti-Records. Archived from the original on August 23, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2012.

External links[edit]