Sheep and Wolves
|Sheep and Wolves|
Russian theatrical release poster
Andrey Galat |
Sergey Selyanov (ru) |
Neil Landau |
|Music by||Alexandre Lessertisseur|
CTB Film Company
|Box office||$4.1 million|
Volki i ovtsy. Be-e-e-zumnoe prevrashchenie (Russian: Волки и овцы: бе-е-е-зумное превращение), released in English-speaking territories as Sheep and Wolves, is a 2016 Russian computer-animated fantasy-comedy film with anthropomorphic animals, a story containing elements of the fairytale "The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids" and the concepts of a Wolf in sheep's clothing. It was directed by Andrey Galat and Maxim Volkov, and stars Alexander Petrov as Grey.
In addition to Alexander Petrov, the original Russian version of the film also features the voices of Elizaveta Boyarskaya, Sergey Bezrukov, Andrey Barkhudarov, Ekaterina Ivanchikova (credited as Katia Iowa), Yuriy Galtsev, Diomid Vinogradov, Andrey Rozhkov, Nikita Prozorovskiy, Tatyana Shitova, Aleksandr Noskov, Ekaterina Semenova, Irina Vilenkina, Oleg Morozov, Eduard Dvinskikh, Yuriy Tarasov, and Dmitriy Filimonov. The English dub of the film, released as Sheep & Wolves, stars Tom Felton as the voice of Grey and also includes the talents of Ruby Rose, Jim Cummings, Rich Orlow, China Anne McClain, Ross Marquand, Peter Linz, Tyler Bunch, Jennie Grace, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Sarah Natochenny, Marc Thompson, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and JB Blanc.
Sheep and Wolves was released in Russian theaters on 28 April 2016 and received mixed reviews from critics.
- Grey was Petrov's first voice role, and he had considered leaving the film after his first recording takes for the character were unsuccessful. However, he was persuaded by director Maxim Volkov to keep practicing his voice talent and started enjoying working for the film.
- Bianca went through the most re-drawings, sketches and 3D models out of all the film's characters. The designers intended to achieve a "pretty" and "decisive" style for her. The character was originally planned to have light skin, but the final result for her was a wolf with darker blue clue given the light color "looked bad" with Grey. As Boyarskaya explained, considering that Bianca was "so beautiful," she had to speak her lines at a much higher pitch than she was comfortable with, which caused her to "almost [brake her] voice."
- Sergey Bezrukov (Russian) and Jim Cummings (English dub) as Magra
- Andrey Barkhudarov (Russian) and Rich Orlow (English dub) as Ragear
- Yuriy Tarasov (Russian) and Thomas Ian Nicholas (English dub) as Skinny and Yuri Menshagin (Russian) and Lex Lang (English dub) as Hobbler
- Yuriy Galtsev (Russian) and Ross Marquand (English dub) as Ziko
- Diomid Vinogradov (Russian) and Peter Linz (English dub) as Moz
- Andrey Rozhkov (Russian) and Cummings (English dub) as Klif
- Nikita Prozorovskiy (Russian) and Tyler Bunch (English dub) as Belgur
- Aleksandr Noskov (Russian) and Cummings (English dub) as Baron
- Ekaterina Semenova (Russian) and Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld (English dub) as Shia
- Irina Vilenkina (Russian) and Sarah Natochenny (English dub) as Xavi
- Eduard Dvinskikh (Russian) and Marc Thompson (English dub) as Ike
- Dmitriy Filimonov (Russian) and JB Blanc (English dub) as Louis
The other animals
- Tatyana Shitova (Russian) and Jennie Grace (English dub) as Mami, a jackrabbit
- Oleg Morozov (Russian) and Bunch (English dub) as Bucho, an ox
The story of Sheep and Wolves was inspired by elements of the German fairy tale The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids and the concepts of a wolf in sheep's clothing; director Maxim Volkov explained that the staff at Wizart conceived a film of showcasing these ideas using a body-exchange story formula used in many popular comedy stories, describing it as a "funny and kind" idea to show to all viewers. The film features messages about friendship and how to properly deal with another group of people who are against a certain group. Volkov describe the sheep in the film as elves or hobbits and the wolves as warlike nomads: "It was important for us to create a contrast, since the protagonist turns from a wolf into a ram, and, therefore, acquires the qualities of another "people" and loses traits peculiar to wolves."
According to a writer for Expert magazine, many film viewers noticed similarities between the plots of Sheep and Wolves and another Russian animated film that was released in Russian theaters in March 2016 named Kikoriki. Legend of the Golden Dragon (2016). Kikoriki. Legend of the Golden Dragon involves its protagonist Barash transforming into a caterpillar by wearing a helmet invented by a scientist at Kikoriki Island. The Expert journalist both noted identical messages between the two films about a person not being himself to the point of not recognizing who he really is. The only difference these two films had in their content was the relationship aspects between characters. As the journalist analyzed, "Unlike the Smeshariki, where the personal relationships between the almost sexless heroes have already been established, the Romantic line is clearly drawn in the Wolves and the Sheep: the main character - Wolf Gray is not very clever trying to attract the attention of the wolf Bianchi - this is one of the obstacles that He has to overcome in a duel with himself."
Sheep and Wolves took five years to make and was produced on a budget of 230 million rubles by around 200 people from several countries. The film went through around three months of pre-production, its screenplay taking more than two years to write; American Neil Landau, who had previously seen Wizart's film The Snow Queen and met Sheep and Wolves's Vladimir Nikolaev at a film festival, joined the company to help write the film. It was produced in Voronezh with collaborations from several nations such as New Zealand, India, and United States production companies. As with Wizart's Snow Queen 2, work on the film's audio took place in New Zealand an Scotland, with music for the film by a composer from France. Production of the film consisted of around 15 to 17 departments, each containing five to twelve people. The film went through several redraws and rewrites in terms of animation style and story.
Sheep and Wolves was Wizart's production that involved the animators having to deal with controlling the wool for the characters the most. Volkov explained that "working with wool took a lot of time and became a serious test of the professionalism of our animators." The characters with "straight" hair had only two layers of fur, while figures with wooly hair was made up of many layers. Thus, the scenes that regard the wolf pack were produced first. How much wool a character had in a certain shot was determined by how far he or she was away from the camera in order to achieve an "organic" look. Volkov described the tournament scene, with consisted of 1,300 sheep figures, as the most difficult to animate. The smoothness of Cliff's feather was another part of the animated labeled by the Volkov as hard to work with. All of the animators watched animal behavior and nature as reference to make the film look realistic. Programmers from Ireland were hired to watch how plants and trees grow and program those movements for the film.
Sheep and Wolves features references to several films and media:
- The wolf and sheep groups are a reference to the Roman and Gaul groups in the comic book series Asterix.
- Grey's species transformation references Queen Elinor turning into a bear after eating a cake in the film Brave (2012).
- When Grey takes the potion, he keeps changing into several different animals at a rapid rate, one of them being the troll Orma from Wizart's Snow Queen films.
- Weburg described a scene from the film as a reference to 300 (2007), the wolves of the film being similar to Persians.
A pre-screening of Sheep and Wolves took place in the Voronezh-based theater Star & Mlad on 23 April 2016; the government of Voronezh assisted in having children from eight boarding schools to attend. One of the most anticipated films in Russian cinema in 2016 according to Russia-24, Sheep and Wolves made its official Russian theatrical premiere on 28 April 2016.
Sheep & Wolves had a theatrical run in Norway by the company Storytelling Media and was the first Russian independent animated film to have a Norwegian theatrical release. Koch Media issued the film for home media consumption in the nations Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and South Tyrol. ADS Service released the film in Hungary, Spentzos Film distributed it in Greece, KLB released it in France, PT.Satuvisi Abadi distributed it and Wizart's The Snow Queen 3 in Indonesia, Flame Node Entertainment and Alibaba Pictures Group released the film in Chinese theaters, and BoXoo Entertainment released it in South Korea.
PRO FILMS released the film in Bulgaria. Company leader Emil Simeonov recalled the marketing campaign that took place in the nation for the film as "massive, we had four of the top 20 most popular singers and actors involved and we covered every channel I know, even a few communication channels I'd heard of for the first time."
The film ran at the 2016 Russian Film Week in London. Festival Filip Perkon said that animated films like Sheep and Wolves would be the easiest Russian films to reaching audiences from across the globe. The film was also played at the Cannes Film Festival, Annecy International Animated Film Festival, "and the Oaxaca FilmFest.
In Russia, with the film opening at 1892 theaters in its first week, Sheep and Wolves debuted at number two, grossing 46,720,975 rubles and attracting more than 234,000 viewers. The film grossed a total of 138,792,038 rubles throughout its entire 19-week Russian run. In Lithuania, the film made 1,449.39 euros on its first week and began at number 16 in the nation's box office. By the next week, the film topped the Lithuania box office and grossed 19,476.08 more euros. The film also ranked in the top ten of the box offices of other countries such as Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Turkey. Despite this, however, the film grossed a worldwide amount of 217,299,268.02 rubles, not making it to its production budget amount of 230 million rubles.
Sheep and Wolves received mixed reviews from critics. A reviewer from Weburg, scoring the film a seven out of ten, compared it to Kung Fu Panda (2008) in that, while its story was unoriginal, it excelled thanks to how it executed it. The critic said the children would enjoy its humor and story and the adults its references to other films.
Olivier Bachelard, writing for the French source Abus de Cine, praised the film's visuals, highlighting its "fluid" animation and "impressive" use of colors, and wrote that young viewers would enjoy the story. However, he also disliked its "useless" scenes, "somewhat disappointing" characters, and the character designs, describing them as "strangely dressed in grotesque hairstyles."
David Bernal of Cinemanía panned the film, criticizing the use of wigs as identification for the female characters and bashed the script as "chaotic," writing that it was more focused on having lots of words in the dialogue rather than visual gags for children to enjoy.
In an April 2016 interview, Yuri Moskvin revealed that the company began a script for a sequel of the film planned for release in 2018. In May 2016, NIkolaev revealed that a sequel has been in development since October 2015; he revealed that it will be produced by the same team as the first film and is expected to come out in the spring of 2018.
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