Spies in Disguise

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Spies in Disguise
Spies in Disguise Final Poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
  • Troy Quane
  • Nick Bruno
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byCindy Davis[1]
Based onPigeon: Impossible
by Lucas Martell
Music byTheodore Shapiro[2]
Edited by
  • Randy Trager
  • Christopher Campbell[3]
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 4, 2019 (2019-12-04) (El Capitan Theatre)
  • December 25, 2019 (2019-12-25) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes[6]
CountryUnited States
Budget$100 million[7]
Box office$171.6 million[8]

Spies in Disguise is a 2019 American computer-animated spy comedy film produced by Blue Sky Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Loosely based on the 2009 animated short Pigeon: Impossible by Lucas Martell, the film is directed by Troy Quane and Nick Bruno (in their feature directorial debuts) from a screenplay by Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor, and a story by Cindy Davis. It stars the voices of Will Smith and Tom Holland, alongside Rashida Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Reba McEntire, Rachel Brosnahan, Karen Gillan, DJ Khaled, and Masi Oka in supporting roles. The plot follows a secret agent (Smith) who is accidentally transformed into a pigeon by an intelligent young scientist (Holland); the two must then work together to stop a revenge-seeking cybernetic terrorist, and return the agent to his human form.

The film premiered at the El Capitan Theatre on December 4, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on December 25, 2019. It has grossed $171 million worldwide and it received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the animation, music, humor, and vocal performances (particularly Smith and Holland).


Lance Sterling, a cocky secret agent of H.T.U.V. (Honor, Trust, Unity and Valor), is sent to recover an attack drone from Japanese arms dealer Katsu Kimura in Japan. As soon as the buyer, cybernetically enhanced terrorist Killian, arrives, Sterling breaks in against the orders of H.T.U.V. director Joy Jenkins, defeats Kimura and his gang, and manages to escape with the briefcase containing the drone. Sterling returns to H.T.U.V. headquarters to confront Walter Beckett, a socially inept MIT graduate and outcast young scientist, for equipping nonlethal weapons into his suit. Walter tries to convince Sterling that there is a more peaceful way to save the world, but Sterling fires him before he can explain his latest invention: "biodynamic concealment".

Sterling discovers the briefcase to be empty and is confronted by Marcy Kappel, a security forces agent, who reveals footage of Sterling (actually Killian in a holographic disguise) leaving with the drone, labeling him as a traitor. Sterling escapes the H.T.U.V. and decides to track down Walter to help him disappear. Meanwhile, Killian breaks into the H.T.U.V. weapons facility.

While searching Walter's home for his invention, Sterling unknowingly ingests the concoction and transforms into a pigeon. Before Walter can start making an antidote to change him back, Marcy and other H.T.U.V. agents chase the duo through the city, but they escape in Sterling's spy car. The two track down Kimura to a resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. There, they learn of Killian's whereabouts in Venice, Italy before Marcy and the H.T.U.V. can capture them again. On their way to Venice, Walter attempts to make the antidote, but fails.

Arriving in Venice, Walter is confronted by the H.T.U.V., who are unaware of Sterling's condition. Revealing that she knows about Wendy, Walter's mother who was a police officer who died on duty, Marcy tries to convince him to help turn Sterling in, but Walter refuses. Suddenly, a drone distracts the H.T.U.V. and allows Walter and Sterling to escape. The two discover the drone carrying the H.T.U.V. agent database, and Walter manages to retrieve it. However, Killian shows up, takes the database, and prepares to kill Walter. With help from hundreds of pigeons in the surrounding area, they distract Killian and flee. Disguised as Sterling once more, Killian escapes the H.T.U.V., shaking Marcy's suspicions of Sterling upon her seeing him with a robot hand.

Whilst underwater in a submarine, Walter reveals he planted a tracking device on Killian and locates him at the weapons facility. Walter manages to perfect the antidote and successfully turns Sterling human again. Reaching Killian's hideout, Sterling is concerned about Walter's safety and sends him away in the submarine. Once inside, Sterling confronts Killian, but is defeated and captured as Killian reveals he has mass produced hundreds of drones to target everyone at the agency using the database as revenge for killing his crew in a past mission led by Sterling. Noticing Walter returning in the submarine, Killian destroys it; unbeknownst to them, Walter survives with the help of one of his inventions, the inflatable hug.

Once Walter frees Sterling, the two escape and contact Marcy for support as the drones approach H.T.U.V. headquarters in Washington D.C. Walter attempts to hack into Killian's bionic arm but when Killian realizes this, he tries to flee via air with a drone, but Walter catches up. Walter risks his life by trapping Killian in the inflatable hug and deactivates the villain's arm as Walter himself falls, but Sterling, who has turned himself back into a pigeon, successfully flies for the first time and carries him to safety with help from other pigeons, while Killian is found and arrested.

Despite saving the world, Sterling, back in his human form, and Walter are fired for disobedience. However, they are quickly rehired by the H.T.U.V. as the agency could learn from Walter's more peaceful ways of handling villainy.


  • Will Smith as Lance Sterling, "the world's most awesome spy," who is accidentally turned into a pigeon.[9]
  • Tom Holland as Walter Beckett, a socially inept scientific genius who graduated from MIT at age 15 and designs gadgets. He inadvertently turns Sterling into a pigeon with a new invention of his and must now help Sterling change back to his human form.
    • Jarrett Bruno as Young Walter Beckett.
  • Rashida Jones as Marcy Kappel, a security forces agent of internal affairs who is in pursuit of Lance Sterling.
  • Ben Mendelsohn as Killian, a powerful technology-based terrorist mastermind with a left bionic arm which controls an array of weaponized drones that threatens the world. Killian is Sterling's arch-enemy and his main mission objective.
  • Reba McEntire as Joy Jenkins, the director of H.T.U.V. (short for Honor, Trust, Unity and Valor) and Sterling's superior.[10]
  • Rachel Brosnahan as Wendy Beckett, a police officer and Walter's late mother.[10]
  • Karen Gillan as Eyes, an H.T.U.V. specialist in spectral analysis and quantum optical thermography who is paired with Ears.[11]
  • DJ Khaled as Ears, an H.T.U.V. specialist in communications and ultrasonics who is paired with Eyes.[11]
  • Masi Oka as Katsu Kimura, a Japanese arms dealer and an associate to Killian.
  • Carla Jimenez as Geraldine[12]
  • Olly Murs as Junior Agent #1 (Uncredited)[13]
  • Bex Marsh as Italian Tourist
  • Stefania Spampinato as Italian Woman
  • Eddie Mujica as Agency Accountant and Male Tourist
  • Emily Altman as Lead Agency Lab Tech, Scooter Girl
  • Claire Crosby as Unity
  • Randy Trager as Terrance
  • Mark Ronson as Agency Control Room Technician
  • Matthew J. Munn as Weapons Lab Soldier
  • Kimberly Brooks as Lance Sterling's Car (Audi RSQ e-tron)
  • Krizia Bajos as Receptionist
  • Reggie De Leon as Weapons Lab Tech
  • Casey Roberts as Launch Control Voice

South Korean voice actors So Youn [ko] and Jang Min-hyuck provided the voices of Soo-min and Joon respectively, the protagonists in a South Korean television drama Walter is a fan of in the film. Jang also voiced Lance Sterling in the Korean version.[citation needed]


On October 9, 2017, it was announced that development was underway on a film based on the animated short Pigeon: Impossible (2009), with Will Smith and Tom Holland set to voice the lead characters.[14]

In October 2018, new additions to the voice cast included Ben Mendelsohn, Karen Gillan, Rashida Jones, DJ Khaled and Masi Oka.[15] In July 2019, Reba McEntire and Rachel Brosnahan joined the cast,[10] and in September 2019, Carla Jimenez was added as well.[12]



On June 12, 2018, it was reported that Theodore Shapiro was set to compose the film's score.[2] The film's score album was released by Hollywood Records and Fox Music on December 27, 2019.

EP soundtrack[edit]

Mark Ronson Presents the Music of Spies in Disguise
EP and soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedDecember 13, 2019 (2019-12-13)
LabelRCA Records
Singles from Mark Ronson Presents the Music of Spies in Disguise
  1. "Then There Were Two"
    Released: November 22, 2019
  2. "Fly"
    Released: December 2, 2019

On June 11, 2019, it was announced that Mark Ronson would be the film's executive music producer.[16] Head of Fox Music Danielle Diego expresssed excitement at working with Ronson, stating that "his unique blend of vintage soul and funk exceptionally captures the soul of [the] film."[16] On November 22, 2019, an original song for the film entitled "Then There Were Two," performed by Ronson and Anderson .Paak, was released.[17] Two days later, an extended play album titled Mark Ronson Presents the Music of Spies in Disguise was announced, featuring five new songs written for the film as well Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's "It Takes Two".[18] The EP was released digitally on December 13, 2019 by RCA Records.[18]

Track listing[edit]

1."Freak of Nature"Mark Ronson & Dodgr3:27
2."Then There Were Two"Ronson & Anderson Paak2:32
3."Fly"Lucky Daye2:43
4."They Gotta Go"Lil Jon3:18
5."Rocket Fuel"DJ Shadow featuring De La Soul3:14
6."It Takes Two"Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock5:00
Total length:20:14


The film was originally scheduled for release on January 18, 2019 by 20th Century Fox.[9] The film was delayed to April 19, 2019, and then to September 13, 2019.[19] On May 10, the film was delayed once more, to December 25, 2019.[20]

Spies in Disguise is the first release by Blue Sky Studios as a unit of The Walt Disney Company, following their acquisition of Fox. This allows ticket purchases to be eligible for Disney Movie Insiders points in the United States.[21]

The film had its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, on December 4, 2019.[22]


The first trailer and teaser poster were released on November 1, 2018.[23] The second trailer was released on July 1, 2019 and the final trailer was released on September 27, 2019, though a "super secret" trailer was released on November 18.

Home media[edit]

Spies in Disguise was released in Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, and DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on March 10, 2020.[24][25]


Box office[edit]

As of March 16, 2020, Spies in Disguise has grossed $66.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $104.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $171.6 million.[8]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released on Wednesday, December 25, alongside Little Women and the wide expansion of Uncut Gems, and was projected to gross $19–23 million from 3,502 theatres over its five-day opening weekend.[26] The film made $4.8 million on Christmas Day and $4.1 million on its second day.[27] It went on to make $13.2 million during its opening weekend, for a total of $22.1 million over the five-day Christmas frame, finishing fifth.[28][7] In its second weekend the film made $10.1 million, finishing sixth.[29] In its third weekend, it grossed $5.1 million, dropping 50.9% from the previous weekend and finishing at the 10th position.[30]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 75% based on 117 reviews and an average rating of 6.48/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A cheerfully undemanding animated adventure that's elevated by its voice cast, Spies in Disguise is funny, fast-paced, and family-friendly enough to satisfy."[31] Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 54 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[32] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while those surveyed by PostTrak gave it an average 3.5 out of 5 stars.[28]

Peter Bradshaw of British newspaper The Guardian gave the film three out of five stars, calling it an "entertaining family adventure," and praising the vocal work of Smith and Holland.[33]

Kwak Yeon-soo, a reporter at South Korean English language newspaper The Korea Times, wrote that the film failed to convey its message because of its "lackluster narrative". Kwak also pointed out that the film tried to attract audiences there by putting references to the South Korean popular culture, and that it ended up exemplifying Walter Beckett's "weird" personality.[34]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Golden Reel Awards January 19, 2020 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Animation Leff Lefferts, Jeremy Bowker, Randy Thom, Bjorn Ole Schroeder, Samson Neslund, David Farmer, Michael Silvers, Larry Oatfield, Chris Manning, Shelley Roden, John Roesch Nominated [35]
Annie Awards January 25, 2020 Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in an Animated Feature Production José Manuel Fernández Oli Nominated [36]
Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production Mark Ronson, Theodore Shapiro Nominated


  1. ^ a b c "Denali Publishing Announces Spies in Disguise: Agents on the Run" (Press release). November 13, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2019 – via Gamasutra.
  2. ^ a b "Theodore Shapiro to Score Blue Sky Studios' 'Spies in Disguise' & Karyn Kusama's 'Destroyer'". Film Music Reporter. June 12, 2018. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  3. ^ "Spies in Disguise reviews". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Film releases". Variety Insight. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Vary, Adam B. (January 17, 2020). "Disney and Chernin Entertainment Parting Ways". Variety. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  6. ^ "Spies in Disguise". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Brueggemann, Tom (December 29, 2019). "'Little Women' Is the Top Box Office Newcomer; 'Skywalker' May Fall $100 Million Short of 'Jedi'". IndieWire. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Spies in Disguise (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Evangelista, Chris (October 10, 2017). "Spies in Disguise Teams Will Smith and Tom Holland". Slashfilm. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Galuppo, Mia (July 23, 2019). "Reba McEntire, Rachel Brosnahan Join Will Smith in 'Spies in Disguise' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Romano, Nick (November 1, 2018). "Will Smith, Tom Holland are a secret agent team in 'Spies in Disguise' trailer". Entertainment Weekly. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Sun, Rebecca (September 9, 2019). "Rep Sheet Roundup: CAA China Signs Matt William Knowles". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  13. ^ Chilton, Louis (December 16, 2019). "Olly Murs joins Will Smith and Tom Holland in Spies In Disguise". Radio Times. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
  14. ^ Lang, Brent (October 9, 2017). "Will Smith, Tom Holland to Star in Animated Movie 'Spies in Disguise' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  15. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (October 29, 2018). "Ben Mendelsohn, Karen Gillan, Rashida Jones, DJ Khaled and Masi Oka Join Voice Cast Of Fox Animation 'Spies In Disguise'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Mark Ronson joins animated film, "Spies in Disguise," as exec music producer". WRMF.com. June 11, 2019.
  17. ^ Heath, Paul (November 22, 2019). "Music Video For Mark Ronson & Anderson .Paak's 'Spies In Disguise' Track Drops". Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Mark Ronson's Songs from 'Spies in Disguise' to Be Released". Film Music Reporter. November 24, 2019.
  19. ^ Haring, Bruce (June 22, 2018). "20th Century Fox Sets Dates For Untitled James Mangold Ferrari Project, Kenneth Branagh's 'Death On The Nile'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  20. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 7, 2019). "Disney-Fox Updates Release Schedule: Sets Three Untitled 'Star Wars' Movies, 'Avatar' Franchise To Kick Off In 2021 & More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  21. ^ @Disney_Insiders (October 17, 2019). "This Christmas they're saving the world on the fly. And guess what Insiders? #SpiesInDisguise will be eligible for Disney Movie Insiders points! di.sn/60081GsWY" (Tweet). Retrieved October 20, 2019 – via Twitter.
  22. ^ Jackson, Angelique (December 5, 2019). "Tom Holland on Spider-Man, James Bond and Meeting 'Spies in Disguise' Co-Star Will Smith in an Escape Room". Variety. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  23. ^ "Spies in Disguise, Official Trailer". 20th Century FOX. November 1, 2018.
  24. ^ Prange, Stephanie (February 13, 2020). "Animated 'Spies in Disguise' to Be Unveiled on Digital and Disc — Including 4K — March 10". Media Play News. JCH Media. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  25. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (February 13, 2020). "'Spies in Disguise' Tackles Digital & Disc Mission March 10". Animation Magazine. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  26. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 25, 2019). "'Rise Of Skywalker' Eyes $35M Merry Christmas With 2nd Best Ever For Holiday; 'Little Women' $7M; 'Spies In Disguise' $5M". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  27. ^ McClintock, Pamela (December 25, 2019). "Box Office: 'Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker' Unwraps Huge $32M on Christmas Day". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  28. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 29, 2019). "'Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker' Counts $362M Through 10 Days, -2% Behind 'Last Jedi'; 'Little Women' All Grown Up With $29M 5-Day". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  29. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 5, 2020). "'Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker' Dips To $34M+ Third Weekend; 'Grudge' Doesn't Scream With $11M+ & 'F' CinemaScore". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  30. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 12, 2020). "'1917' Strong With $36M+, But 'Like A Boss' & 'Just Mercy' Fighting Over 4th With $10M; Why Kristen Stewart's 'Underwater' Went Kerplunk With $7M". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  31. ^ "Spies in Disguise (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  32. ^ "Spies in Disguise Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  33. ^ "Movie Review: Spies in Disguise – Will Smith brings pecks appeal to animated caper". The Guardian. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  34. ^ Kwak, Yeon-soo (January 7, 2020). "'Spies in Disguise' tries too hard to attract Korean moviegoers". The Korea Times. Hankook Ilbo. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  35. ^ "Motion Picture Sound Editors Unveil 67th Annual Golden Reel Nominations". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  36. ^ "47th Annie Awards" (Press release). Annie Awards. December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.

External links[edit]