The Little Prince (2015 film)
|The Little Prince|
Netflix release poster
|Directed by||Mark Osborne|
|Based on||The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$97.6 million|
The Little Prince is a 2015 English-language French 3D animated fantasy adventure family drama film directed by Mark Osborne and based on the 1943 novel of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It is the first adaptation as a full-length animated feature of The Little Prince. The film relates the story of the book using stop motion animation which is woven into a computer animated framing narrative about a young girl who has just met the book's now-elderly aviator narrator who tells her the story of his meeting with the Little Prince in the Sahara Desert.
The film stars the voices of Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Bud Cort, Marion Cotillard, Benicio del Toro, James Franco, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti, Riley Osborne, Albert Brooks and Mackenzie Foy. It was produced by Dimitri Rassam, Aton Soumache and Alexis Vonarb, and written by Irena Brignull and Bob Persichetti with music by Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey.
The film premiered on 22 May 2015 at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in an out-of-competition screening, followed by a wide release in France on 29 July by Paramount Pictures. The US theatrical release was set for a release date of 18 March 2016 in RealD 3D, but was dropped mysteriously. Netflix later acquired the US distribution rights and released it on 5 August 2016. The film has received positive reviews, earning praise for its style of animation and homage paid to the source material and earned $97.6 million on a $77.5 million budget, becoming the most successful French animated film abroad of all time.
An ambitious young Mother undertakes to prepare her daughter academically for enrollment in the prestigious Werth Academy , imposing a life plan that leaves no time for leisure. The Little Girl, however, becomes distracted by an elderly retired Aviator who tells her the story of the "Little Prince", whom he says he encountered in the Sahara desert after crash-landing there. The Aviator recounts how the Little Prince had asked him to draw a picture of a sheep. Lacking skill, the Aviator had eventually simply drawn a box instead, and explained that there was a sheep inside the box and this had satisfied the Little Prince.
The Little Girl and the Aviator continue to read and play together without the Mother's knowledge. The Aviator tells the Girl about the Little Prince's home, "Asteroid B612", which was covered in baobab sprouts, and he recounts how it came to pass that the Little Prince travelled to Earth. After spending some time clearing away baobab sprouts, the Little Prince had noticed a different plant; and had nurtured it until it grew into a Rose. The Rose had become his friend, but had been rather selfish, so after a while, the Little Prince had left his planet with a flock of birds. And after meeting some adults on some other asteroids, he eventually landed on Earth, where he found and tamed a red Fox. After a while, the Fox bid goodbye to the Little Prince, advising him to always see with his heart. When the Aviator finishes telling the Little Girl this story, he gives her a stuffed Fox as a gift, and tells her that he has decided to leave soon and go find the Little Prince.
The two of them decide to go out for free "birthday" pancakes first but it turns out that the Aviator is driving without a license. He is pulled over by a police officer, who brings the Girl home, whereupon her Mother realizes that she hasn't been doing her assigned lessons. Distressed, the Mother redoubles her daughter's assignments to make up for lost time. But the Girl continues to read the story of the Little Prince, and when she has read all the pages, she secretly visits the Aviator to find out what had happened to the Little Prince at the end and to go find him with the Aviator.
The Aviator tells her that in the end the Little Prince had submitted to a venomous snake bite in order to be reunited with his beloved Rose. Although the Aviator assures the Girl that he firmly believes the Little Prince succeeded, she is so upset by the dark twist to the story that she wishes she'd never met the Aviator and had never heard the story.
Towards the summer's end, the Aviator is hospitalized. The Girl, wanting to put things right, sets off in search of the Little Prince. While using the gutter to escape from her room without her Mother knowing, the Girl falls into the Aviator's yard and blacks out. After she awakens, the Girl sets off on her journey accompanied by her little plush Fox who has now obtained consciousness and with all of the Little Prince's story pages. They fly the Aviator's plane into space, hoping to find the Little Prince somewhere. They discover that the stars have mysteriously disappeared and land on an asteroid populated only by workaholic adults owned by the star-holding "Businessman" character from the Little Prince's story (which he used the stars to powering his asteroid and employees.) After encountering a police officer (the "Conceited Man") and an elevator operator (the "King"), they finally find the Little Prince.
But all is not well. He is now an adult named "Mr. Prince", and is working as a janitor for the Businessman. He has forgotten his past and who he was, and seems motivated only by a fear of disappointing the Businessman. Mr. Prince accordingly takes the Little Girl to an "Academy" where she is to be "reconditioned" as an adult under the tutelage of a slim, tall, sinister Academy Teacher. But luckily Mr. Prince suddenly recovers his memory and is able to rescue the Girl from this fate. They escape together, accompanied by the Fox. Then confront the Businessman, and triumphantly liberate of all of the stars into space where they belong. The Girl then takes Mr. Prince back to his home asteroid, B612, which has become overgrown with baobabs. They find the Rose dead. But then they see her image in the sunrise. This sight transforms Mr. Prince back to his younger self, and makes the baobabs disappear, giving the now-again Little Prince renewed hope.
The Girl and the Fox return home, accompanied by another flock of birds. The next morning, the Girl and her Mother visit the Aviator in the hospital. The Girl presents him with a book that contains the now-completed story of the Little Prince—the formerly loose pages are bound together and the formerly missing parts of the story have been filled in. The Girl has begun her studies at Werth Academy and reconciled with her Mother, and the Little Prince and the Aviator are heard laughing joyfully together on Asteroid B612, while the Girl and her Mother happily stargaze in one night.
- Riley Osborne as the Little Prince, an eternally young boy and resident of "Asteroid B612", a small asteroid roughly the same size as him. He is presented as a very kind, passionate, and curious boy who looks with his heart, one of the many themes of the movie.
- Mackenzie Foy as the Little Girl, a smart and precocious girl.
- Jeff Bridges as the Aviator, an elderly and retired aviator and the Little Girl and her Mother's friendly neighbor who has witnessed and befriended the Little Prince in the Sahara desert.
- Rachel McAdams as the Mother, a busy and committed mother who cares for her Little Girl.
- James Franco as the Fox, a red fox whom the Little Prince cares for and tames, and who eventually becomes one of his many friends on Earth.
- Marion Cotillard as the Rose, a bright rose whom the Little Prince cares for and talks to.
- Benicio del Toro as the Snake, a sinister and venomous snake whom the Little Prince meets and is instantly wary of.
- Albert Brooks as the Businessman, a workaholic businessperson who owns the stars in the sky and generates money to buy more stars.
- Paul Giamatti as the Academy Teacher, a slim and tall teacher who operates an "Academy", a place where children are transformed into workaholic adults.
- Bud Cort as the King, a king of an asteroid and whom the Little Prince visits. He becomes an elevator operator for the Businessman later in the movie.
- Ricky Gervais as the Conceited Man, a man who conceives a personality and sticks to it. He becomes a police officer for the Businessman later in the movie.
- Jacquie Barnbrook as the Nurse, a nurse in the hospital where the Aviator is hospitalized.
- Marcel Bridges as the Concerned Neighbour, a neighbour who's curious at the Aviator's attitudes.
- Jeffy Branion as the Policeman, a police officer who repeatedly arrests and detains the Aviator.
On 14 October 2010, Kung Fu Panda co-director and More creator Mark Osborne was hired and set to direct The Little Prince based on the 1943 novel of the same name. Irena Brignull (writer of The Boxtrolls) and Bob Persichetti wrote the script for the film based on a story conceived by Mark Osborne. Aton Soumache, Alexis Vonarb and Dimitri Rassam produced the film with the budget of $77.5 million for release in 2015.
The film features a framing device not present in the novel with a schoolgirl discovering The Little Prince through a reclusive elderly neighbour. Mark Osborne made the film's hero a little girl after research from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media revealed the gender disparity among characters in animated films. She represents "the spirit of adulthood," according to Osborne. "In animation, it always had to be boy-centric. Right now there seems to be a changing of the tide but these things don't happen overnight. These movies take years to make, so back when I was first pushing to make the little girl the main character, it was seen as quite revolutionary", Osborne recalled in April 2015.
The film uses computer animation for the girl's world and stop-motion animation for the world of The Little Prince as she imagines it. Development and storyboarding of the film was completed in Paris. The team then moved to Montreal for the final phases of animation, lighting, colour and production in order to maximise the tax benefits offered to a French-Canadian project, a co-venture between Onyx Entertainment in Paris and Mikros Image Canada in Montreal. One of the film's associate producers is Brice Garnier from Canada's Kaibou Production. Kaibou service rendered Line production and service production (3D animation and stop motion). Studio partners were Studio Mikros Image Canada, Toutenkartoon Canada and Technicolor (picture and sound post-production). Kaibou also provided financing through tax credits, gap financing and local taxes.
Osborne was pitching the film to actors, artists, and distributors all over the world using what he called a "magic suitcase" full of hand-made visual aids specifically created to communicate the tone and passion for the project. Model maker Joe Schmidt (the modeller of Coraline) created this suitcase, which held the art book, and told the story of the movie visually. Schmidt had created a snapshot of Osborne's vision for the film. A constellation of tiny planets and stars lit up on one side, a giant art book of illustrations filled the other. From somewhere deep inside the case, Osborne pulled out two large white circles that held slides that when placed up to each eye displayed 3-D images of stop-motion puppets. Then Osborne started flipping switches. In no time, a one-way mirror slid away to reveal a hidden chamber holding a collection of yellowed pages below. It was a mock-up of Saint-Exupéry's original manuscript, a key plot point in Osborne's film. In four years, Osborne pitched the movie close to 400 times.
On 5 June 2013, it was announced that James Franco, Marion Cotillard, Mackenzie Foy, Benicio del Toro, Paul Giamatti, Rachel McAdams and Jeff Bridges joined the film. Albert Brooks joined the cast on 12 September to voice The Businessman, a villain.
Thanks to Osborne’s emotionally engaging pitch and the global popularity of Saint-Exupéry's book, a group of A-list actors were able to be recruited to lend their voices to the film’s characters. As Osborne explained, "It began with Jeff Bridges. He was our first and only choice to play the Aviator, so after a great deal of time trying to get to him, I finally got the chance to go to his home in Santa Barbara to talk to him directly. He was blown away by the pitch, and it really put us on the road to assembling the perfect cast." As Bridges recalls, he was instantly drawn to the role of the Aviator. "Mark gave me this incredible pitch, brought this suitcase with him which showed me what the movie was going to be about. We shared the same concern, which was if you simply just move around these iconic characters like the book, it might not do justice to the work. He had this great other story, which treated the book as almost another character in the movie. It’s a great way to pay tribute to this classic book, so I was excited and thrilled to be part of it."
In the early stages of production, Mark Osborne’s daughter Maddie and his son Riley, helped by providing the temporary scratch voices for the roles of the Little Girl and the Little Prince. His daughter got older and her voice began to change, so she had to be replaced by the 12-year-old Mackenzie Foy. Osborne's son Riley was kept as the voice of The Little Prince because they never found anyone who did a better job than him. "He was 11 at the time, and was very natural in the part so we kept him as the Prince!", Osborne told.
To voice the complex role of the Little Girl’s Mother, the film-makers approached Rachel McAdams. The Little Prince marks the first time McAdams has lent her voice to an animated project. "I was so excited to be part of this movie, and I loved Kung Fu Panda, so I knew our director Mark (Osborne) was going to do a wonderful job with the adaptation. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to animation." McAdams says it was important for her to connect with the material. "I play the Little Girl's Mother, who is a working single mum. She has this massive, intricate life-plan for her daughter and wants her to follow the rules to a tee. The Mother is a little highly-strung, but she means well. She and her daughter are a real team until the Little Girl drifts away." 
The film was chosen in 'Official Selection' for the 2015 Cannes Film Festival on 22 May 2015. The Little Prince made its US premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on 3 February 2016. It was the first animated movie to open the Santa Barbara Film Festival since the festival started in 1985.
Release and distribution
Wild Bunch is overseeing international film sales. Paramount Pictures released the film in France on 29 July 2015 and in some other countries, and had also intended to handle distribution in the United States. The film was also released in other territories by Entertainment One in Canada, and The Weinstein Company in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Warner Bros. assumed distribution in Austria, Germany and Japan. The film was to be released in the United States on 18 March 2016 in RealD 3D. However, on 11 March, a week away from its release, Paramount dropped the planned release for the region. According to Cartoon Brew, Paramount left because the French producers did not pay an additional, previously agreed $20 million for the U.S. prints and advertising budget. Netflix later acquired the US distribution rights and released the film on 5 August 2016.
On 11 September 2014, Warner Bros. Japan released a teaser from the film. The first trailer in French was released by Paramount Pictures on 8 December 2014. The first trailer in English was released on 12 December 2014. The first official English trailer and the first poster for the film were released on 20 April 2015. eOne Canada released a new trailer in 13 November 2015. The first full U.S. trailer was released by Paramount Pictures on 25 November 2015.
As of 20 September 2015, it had grossed $12.1 million in France and, as of 20 March 2016, $88.7 million worldwide. In its opening week in France, The Little Prince earned $3.3 million from 727 screens debuting at No. 2 at the French box office. In its second weekend it grossed $1.4 million (down 41%) from 830 screens for a two weekend total of $5.5 million. The film debuted at No. 2 in Brazil on 20 August, behind of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, with 330 thousand tickets sold. In its second weekend, it topped the box office charts, with over 851,000 tickets sold, making history in Brazil as the first non-American animated film to lead the box office in the country. The film kept the first place at the Brazilian box office for three consecutive weeks. As of 5 October, the film has grossed over R$27 million (US$7.14 million) and as of 18 October, it reached over 2 million admissions in Brazil. The film opened in China on 16 October, where it grossed $10.9 million in its opening weekend ranking third behind Ant-Man and Goodbye Mr. Loser, It grossed a total of $20.9 million in 10 days and by its third weekend, it had grossed US$24 million. It grossed a total of CN¥158.45 million in China, with the country being the largest territory for the film. It was number-one on its second weekend in Japan. The film opened in Italy on 1 January, where it grossed $3.1 million in its opening weekend, and a total of $10.2 milion.
The film has received critical acclaim, earning praise for its style of animation and homage paid to the source material. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a score of 93%, based on 77 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. Its consensus reads: "Beautifully animated and faithful to the spirit of its classic source material, The Little Prince is a family-friendly treat that anchors thrilling visuals with a satisfying story." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 69 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews". Furthermore, The Sydney Morning Herald reinforces positive reviews on the film, stating "it is deeply personal and profoundly moving, a sensitive and affecting portrait of humanity".
|2016||Austin Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||The Little Prince||Nominated||
|César Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Mark Osborne, Dimitri Rassam, Aton Soumache, Alexis Vonarb and On Animation Studios||Won||
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards||Best Original Score – Animated Film||Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey||Nominated||
|2017||Annie Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Production Design in an Animated Feature Production||Lou Romano, Alex Juhasz and Celine Desrumaux||Nominated||
|Outstanding Achievement, Music in an Animated Feature Production||Hans Zimmer, Richard Harvey and Camille||Won|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature||Pascal Bertrand, Jamie Caliri, Jinko Gotoh and Mark Osborne||Nominated||
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