The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!

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This article is about the 2012 film. For the book on which the film is based, see The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists.
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! poster.jpg
UK theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Lord
Jeff Newitt (co-director)
Produced by Julie Lockhart
Peter Lord
David Sproxton
Written by Gideon Defoe[1]
Based on The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists 
by Gideon Defoe
Starring Hugh Grant
Martin Freeman
Imelda Staunton
David Tennant
Jeremy Piven
Salma Hayek
Lenny Henry
Brian Blessed
Music by Theodore Shapiro[2]
Cinematography Frank Passingham
Edited by Justin Krish
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 28 March 2012 (2012-03-28) (United Kingdom)
  • 27 April 2012 (2012-04-27) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes[3]
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $55 million[4]
Box office $123 million[4]

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (released in North America, Australia and New Zealand as The Pirates! Band of Misfits) is a 2012 British/American 3D stop-motion animated swashbuckler comedy film produced by Aardman Animations in partnership with Sony Pictures Animation. It was directed by Peter Lord. The film was distributed by Columbia Pictures and was released on 28 March 2012 in the UK and on 27 April 2012 in the US.[5] The Pirates! features the voices of Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry and Brian Blessed.

The film is loosely based on The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, the first book from Gideon Defoe's The Pirates! series.[6] It follows The Pirate Captain and his crew of amateur pirates in their attempt to win the Pirate of the Year competition. The Pirates! is the fifth feature film by Aardman Animations, and its first stop-motion animated feature since Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in 2005, and Aardman's first stop-motion clay animated film released in 3D and shot in 2.35:1 widescreen.

The film received positive reviews,[7] while it was a modest box office success, earning $123 million against the budget of $55 million.[4][8] The film was nominated for the 2013 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.


In 1837, the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant), inexpert in the ways of pirates, leads a close-knit, rag-tag group of amateur pirates who are trying to make a name for themselves on the high seas. To prove himself and his crew, the Pirate Captain enters the Pirate of the Year competition, with the winner being whoever can plunder the most. After several failed attempts to plunder mundane ships, the Pirate Captain talks with his best friend and first mate, the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman), about giving up and selling baby clothes as a living, but is convinced to try boarding the next ship they find, which happens to be the Beagle. They find no treasure but succeed in capturing Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Darwin recognizes the crew's pet Polly as the last living dodo, and implores the Pirate Captain to enter it into the Scientist of the Year competition at the Royal Society in London for a valuable prize. The Pirate Captain directs his ship to London. The Pirates disguise themselves as Girl Scouts, so that they don't get caught and executed, as Queen Victoria has a strong hatred of Pirates.

Darwin desires to win the Scientist prize on his own in order to impress Queen Victoria, on whom he has a crush. He uses Mr. Bobo, his trained chimpanzee, to try to steal Polly. The Pirate with the Scarf witnesses the kidnapping but the attempt goes awry after alerting the other pirates. Darwin gets off the hook, much to the Pirate with the Scarf's frustration, but the Pirate Captain insists on hiding the bird and entering the competition on his own, disguising himself and the whole crew as scientists. The display of the dodo takes the top prize: a minuscule trophy, an Encyclopedia set and an opportunity to meet Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton), who requests Polly for her petting zoo. During the ceremony, the Pirate Captain accidentally reveals his pirate identity, but Darwin convinces the Queen to spare the Captain's life because he knows the location of Polly. The Queen lets the Captain go free with a full pardon, but orders Darwin to locate the dodo by any means necessary.

Darwin takes the Pirate Captain to a tavern, and the latter ultimately reveals that he had stashed Polly in his beard. Darwin and Mr. Bobo are able to capture Polly and are chased by the Captain up into the Tower of London, where the Queen is waiting. The Queen quickly dismisses Darwin and Mr. Bobo, and then offers the Pirate Captain a large amount of treasure in exchange for Polly. Soon, the Pirate Captain reunites with his crew with his newfound wealth, stating that Polly is sleeping within his beard, and sets off for the Pirate of the Year ceremony. The Pirate with a Scarf expresses doubt to the validity of the Captain's story.

At the ceremony, the Pirate Captain wins the grand prize from the Pirate King (Brian Blessed), but rival pirate Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) makes the Queen's pardon known to all pirates in attendance. The Captain is stripped of the prize, his plunder and his pirating licence, and banned from Blood Island. The crew also deserts him when they find out that he lied about Polly's fate. The Captain returns alone to London to sell baby clothes, but soon becomes determined to free Polly. He re-encounters a now-devastated Darwin, who has learned that the Queen is part of a secret dining society with several other world leaders who are now aboard her steamship, the QV1, waiting to eat the most rarest and most endangered animals. According to the menu, the highlight of the year is: "dodo à l'orange". The Pirate Captain enlists Darwin's help to steal an airship presented at the science contest and rescue Polly.

Aboard the QV1, the Pirate Captain and Darwin disrupt the meal, and are soon joined by the rest of the Captain's crew, who have been informed by Mr. Bobo of his need. The Queen locates them and attempts to kill both of them, but together they best her. In the battle, they accidentally mix the ship's store of baking soda with vinegar, causing a violent reaction that rends the ship in two. The Pirate Captain rescues Polly and they escape safely, leaving behind a furious Queen. With his reputation among pirates restored because of the large bounty now on his head, the Pirate Captain and his crew continue to explore the high seas in search of adventure.

In a few post-credits scenes, they leave Darwin on the Galapagos Islands, Mr. Bobo joins the Captain's crew, the Queen is left at the mercy of some of the rare animals she had planned on eating, and Black Bellamy is also forcefully stripped of his trophy by the Pirate King because of the Pirate Captain's new infamy.

Voice cast[edit]

Hugh Grant in April 2012 at the film's premiere in Sydney, Australia


Aardman extensively used computer graphics to complement and enrich the primarily stop-motion film with visual elements such as sea and scenery. Peter Lord commented, "With Pirates!, I must say that the new technology has made Pirates! really liberating to make, easy to make because the fact that you can shoot a lot of green screen stuff, the fact that you can easily extend the sets with CG, the fact that you can put the sea in there and a beautiful wooden boat that, frankly, would never sail in a million years, you can take that and put it into a beautiful CG scene and believe it."[16]


For the release in the USA, the film has been retitled to The Pirates! Band of Misfits. The official explanation from Aardman was that Defoe's books don't have "the same following outside of the UK," so it was not necessary to keep the original title.[17] Hugh Grant, the voice of The Pirate Captain, said that the studio "didn't think the Americans would like the longer title."[18] Response from the director of the film, Peter Lord, was that "some people reckoned the UK title wouldn't charm/ amuse / work in the US. Tricky to prove eh?"[19] Quentin Cooper of the BBC analyzed the change of the title and listed several theories. One of them is that the British audience is more tolerant for the eccentricity of the British animators. Another is that the film makers did not want to challenge the US viewers who do not accept the theory of evolution. He also developed his own explanation, in which he notes that the word "scientist" is rarely used in the Hollywood films due to it not being "cool," representing "the mad scientist or the dweeby nerd that dress funny, have no social skills, play video games, long for unattainable women."[17]


In January 2012, it was reported that the latest trailer of The Pirates! attracted some very negative reactions from the "leprosy community". In the trailer that was released in December, The Pirate Captain lands on a ship demanding gold, but is told by a crew member, "Afraid we don't have any gold old man, this is a leper boat. See," when his arm falls off.[20] Lepra Health in Action and some officials from the World Health Organization, expressed that the joke shows the illness in a derogatory manner, and it "reinforces the misconceptions which leads to stigma and discrimination that prevents people from coming forward for treatment." They demanded an apology and removal of the offending scene,[21] to which Aardman responded: "After reviewing the matter, we decided to change the scene out of respect and sensitivity for those who suffer from leprosy. The last thing anyone intended was to offend anyone...". LHA responded that it was "genuinely delighted that Aardman has decided to amend the film," while the trailer was expected to be pulled down from websites,[22] and the final version of the film changes the line in question to "Gold? This is a plague boat, old man."[23]


The film's score was composed by Theodore Shapiro who made his animated feature score debut with this film. The score was released digitally by Madison Gate Records on 24 April 2012,[24] and as a CD-R on-demand on 17 May 2012.[25] The film also includes a number of previously released songs by various artists, including "Swords of a Thousand Men" by Tenpole Tudor, "Ranking Full-Stop" by The Beat, "London Calling" by The Clash, "You Can Get It If You Really Want" by Jimmy Cliff, "Alright" by Supergrass, and "I'm Not Crying" by Flight of the Conchords.[26]

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Film score by Theodore Shapiro
Released 24 April 2012
Recorded 2012
Genre Score
Length 51:04
Label Madison Gate Records
Theodore Shapiro film scores chronology
The Big Year
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Hope Springs
Track listing:[27]
No. Title Length
1. "I Hate Pirates!"   2:25
2. "Attacking Ships"   2:22
3. "The Competition"   2:18
4. "Not a Total Success"   2:03
5. "The Ascent of Man"   0:38
6. "Masked Monkey Chase"   2:20
7. "Attacking the Beagle"   2:31
8. "Feathery Heart and Soul"   0:43
9. "Fog on the Thames"   1:02
10. "Girl Guides"   2:24
11. "Wait a Mo'!"   5:17
12. "Dreams Turn to Dust"   0:46
13. "The Captain's Dream"   1:33
14. "Baby Clothes"   2:56
15. "The Queen's Lair"   4:28
16. "Market Chase"   1:59
17. "The Dream Fulfilled"   3:23
18. "Panda Face Fritters"   2:51
19. "Poor Defenseless Me"   4:28
20. "Unpardoned"   4:37
Total length:


Home media[edit]

The Pirates! was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D on 28 August 2012 in the US,[28] and on 10 September 2012 in the UK.[29] The film is accompanied with an 18-minute[30] short stop motion animated film called So You Want to Be a Pirate!, where The Pirate Captain hosts his own talk show about being a true pirate.[31] The short was also released on DVD on 13 August 2012, exclusively at Tesco stores in the UK.[32] As a promotion for the release of The Pirates!, Sony attached to every DVD and Blu-ray a code to download a LittleBigPlanet 2 minipack of Sackboy clothing that represents 3 of the characters: The Pirate Captain, Cutlass Liz and Black Bellamy.[33][34]


Box office[edit]

The film has grossed $123,054,041 worldwide. $26 million came from United Kingdom,[35] $31 million from the United States and Canada, along with around $92 million from other territories, including the UK.[4]

Critical response[edit]

The film received very positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 86% of 144 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.2 out of 10. The website's consensus is, "It may not quite scale Aardman's customary delirious heights, but The Pirates! still represents some of the smartest, most skillfully animated fare that modern cinema has to offer."[7] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 73 based on 31 reviews.[36]


List of awards and nominations
Academy Awards[37] Best Animated Feature Peter Lord Nominated
Annie Awards[38][39] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Character Animation in a Feature Production Will Becher
Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Norman Garwood, Matt Berry
Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Imelda Staunton as Queen Victoria
Writing in an Animated Feature Production Gideon Defoe
European Film Awards[40][41] Best Animated Feature Film Nominated
Visual Effects Society[42][43] Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Will Becher, Jay Grace, Loyd Price Nominated

Potential sequel[edit]

On 14 August 2011, Peter Lord tweeted that they are working on the sequel idea.[44] In June 2012, Lord said in an interview that, "We've got the story, all we need now is the backing."[45] In January 2013, Lord responded to a question on Twitter on whether the sequel will be out soon: "There's not going to be a sequel - well not in the foreseeable future."[46] At a talk later in the year, he explained this was due to the film not meeting box office expectations in the United States.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Hugh Grant Joins Voice Cast for Sony-Backed Pirate Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  2. ^ filmmusicreporter (18 March 2011). "Theodore Shapiro to Score ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’". Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "3D - PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS". Cineworld Cinemas. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d "The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-05-15. 
  5. ^ "Pirate Captain and his crew wish you a happy Chinese New Year.". Sony Pictures Animation. Facebook. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c O'Hara, Helen (25 October 2011). "Exclusive! New Pirates! Trailer". Empire. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  8. ^ "2012 Recap (cont.): Losers". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  9. ^ James Silver. "How Aardman is embracing the digital age". Wired Magazine. 
  10. ^ a b c McWeeny, Drew (22 July 2011). "Comic-Con: Sony Animation panel puts Aardman's 'Pirates' front and center". HitFix. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Lord, Peter (16 November 2011). "@PeteLordAardman". Twitter. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  12. ^ Mclean, Craig (2010-09-05). "More Mr Nice Guy: Why everyone loves Russell Tovey". The Independent. Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  13. ^ Berkshire, Geoff (27 April 2012). "Review: 'The Pirates! Band of Misfits' sets sail with Aardman charm". HitFix. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  14. ^ Lord, Peter. "Captain's Log Production Blog". Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "Nifty Selection of The Pirates! Model Sheets". Animation World Network. 27 April 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  16. ^ Huver, Scott (15 August 2011). "EXCL: Lord and Baynham on The Pirates! and Arthur Christmas". Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  17. ^ a b Cooper, Quentin (13 April 2012). "Scientists: Band of misfits?". BBC. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  18. ^ Hardie, Giles (3 April 2012). "Cap'n Hugh fires on media". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  19. ^ Lord, Twitter (25 November 2012). "@A7exand3r well, you know, some people reckoned the UK title wouldn't charm/ amuse / work in the US. Tricky to prove eh?". Twitter. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  20. ^ "The Pirates! Band of Misfits - Trailer 2". iTunes. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  21. ^ Lakhani, Nina (13 January 2012). "Wallace and Gromit creators in leprosy row". The Independent. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  22. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (24 January 2012). ""The Pirates!": Aardman To Change Scene After Outcry From Leprosy Orgs". Deadline. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  23. ^ Askew, Robin (March 2012). "Who wants to be a buccaneer?". Venue. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  24. ^ "‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  25. ^ "The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Original Motion Picture Score)". Amazon. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  26. ^ The film's credits
  27. ^ "The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Original Motion Picture Score)". iTunes. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  28. ^ Katz, Josh (June 18, 2012). "The Pirates! Band of Misfits Blu-ray". Retrieved June 18, 2012. 
  29. ^ "The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (DVD)". Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  30. ^ "THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS, ADDED VALUE". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  31. ^ Sony Pictures Animation (6 April 2012). "Sky Movies in the UK posted the first five minutes". Retrieved 6 April 2012. Sky Movies in the UK posted the first five minutes of The Pirates! Band of Misfits short that will plundering on DVD and Blu-ray later this year. Take a look and tell us what you think! 
  32. ^ "Win! A portable DVD player plus So You Want To Be A Pirate! on DVD". gootoknow. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  33. ^ "Sack it to Me: Arrr! The Pirates Board LittleBigPlanet". PlayStation Blog. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  34. ^ "The Pirates! Minipack". LittleBigPlanet. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  35. ^ "United Kingdom". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 17, 2012. 
  36. ^ "The Pirates! Band of Misfits". Metacritic. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  37. ^ Finke, Nikki (January 10, 2013). "OSCARS: 85th Academy Award Nominations – Only 9 Best Pictures; ‘Lincoln’ Leads With 12 Nods, ‘Life Of Pi’ 11, ‘Les Misérables’ And ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ 8, ‘Argo’ 7, ‘Skyfall’ And ‘Amour’ And ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ And ‘Django Unchained’ 5". Deadline. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Annie Award Nominations Unveiled". Deadline. December 3, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  39. ^ Beck, Jerry (February 2, 2013). "Annie Award Winners". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  40. ^ Anderson, Paul (September 17, 2012). "Pirates Sets Sail For European Film Awards". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  41. ^ "The 25th European Film Awards: Winners". European Film Academy. December 1, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  42. ^ "Nominations for the 11th Annual VES Awards". 7 January 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  43. ^ "VES Awards: ‘Life Of Pi’ Wins 4 Including Feature, ‘Brave’, ‘Game Of Thrones’ Other Big Winners". Deadline. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  44. ^ Lord, Peter (14 August 2011). "@PeteLordAardman". Twitter. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  45. ^ Jardine, William (21 June 2012). "Interview: Peter Lord, Co-founder of Aardman and Director of The Pirates!". A113 Animation. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  46. ^ Lord, Peter (13 January 2013). "@SirThomasWynne No Tom, the bugger is, there's not going to be a sequel - well not in the foreseeable future. Outrageous but true.". Twitter. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 

External links[edit]