Where the Wild Things Are (film)
|Where the Wild Things Are|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Spike Jonze|
|Produced by||Tom Hanks|
|Screenplay by||Spike Jonze|
|Based on||Where the Wild Things Are|
by Maurice Sendak
|Music by||Karen O|
|Edited by||Eric Zumbrunnen|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$100.1 million|
Where the Wild Things Are is a 2009 fantasy drama film directed by Spike Jonze. Written by Jonze and Dave Eggers, it is adapted from Maurice Sendak's 1963 children's book of the same name. It combines live-action, performers in costumes, animatronics, and computer-generated imagery (CGI). The film stars Max Records and features the voices of James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Lauren Ambrose, Forest Whitaker, Catherine O'Hara, and Chris Cooper. The film centers on a lonely boy named Max who sails away to an island inhabited by creatures known as the "Wild Things," who declare Max their king.
In the early 1980s, Disney considered adapting the film as a blend of traditionally animated characters and computer-generated environments, but development did not go past a test film to see how the animation hybridizing would result. In 2001, Universal Studios acquired rights to the book's adaptation and initially attempted to develop a computer-animated adaptation with Disney animator Eric Goldberg, but the CGI concept was replaced with a live-action one in 2003, and Goldberg was dropped for Spike Jonze. The film was co-produced by actor Tom Hanks through his production company Playtone and made with an estimated budget of $100 million. Where the Wild Things Are was a joint production between Australia, Germany, and the United States, and was filmed principally in Melbourne.
The film was released on October 16, 2009, in the United States, on December 3 in Australia, and on December 17 in Germany. The film was met with mostly positive reviews and appeared on many year-end top ten lists. However the film flopped commercially at the box office, making $100.1 million from a budget of $100 million. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 2, 2010.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Release and reception
- 5 Merchandise
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
8-year-old Max, a lonely boy with an active imagination whose parents are divorced, is wearing a wolf costume and chasing his dog. His older sister, Claire, does nothing when her friends crush Max's snow fort with him inside during a snowball fight. Out of frustration, Max messes up her bedroom and destroys a frame he made for her. At school, Max's teacher teaches him and his classmates about the eventual death of the sun. Later his mother, Connie, invites her boyfriend Adrian to dinner. Max becomes upset with his mother for not coming to the fort he made in his room. He wears his wolf costume, acts like an animal, and demands to be fed. When his mother gets upset, he throws a tantrum and bites her on the shoulder. She yells at him and he runs away, scared by what transpired. At the edge of a pond, Max finds a small boat that he boards.
The pond soon becomes an ocean. Max, still in his wolf suit, reaches an island. He stumbles upon a group of seven large, monstrous creatures. One of them, Carol, is in the middle of a destructive tantrum caused by the departure of a female Wild Thing named KW. As Carol wreaks havoc, Max tries joining in on the mayhem but finds himself facing the suspicious anger of the Wild Things. When they contemplate eating him, Max convinces them that he is a king with magical powers capable of bringing harmony to the group. They crown him as their new king. Shortly after, KW returns, and Max declares a wild rumpus in which the Wild Things smash trees and tackle each other.
The Wild Things introduce themselves as Carol, Ira, Judith, Alexander, Douglas, the Bull, and KW. Soon, they pile on one another before going to sleep with Max at the center. Carol takes Max on a tour of the island, showing him a model he built depicting what he wishes the island looked like. Inspired by this, Max orders the construction of an enormous fort with Carol in charge of construction. When KW brings her two owl friends, Bob and Terry, to the fort, a disagreement ensues as Carol feels they are outsiders. To release their frustrations, Max divides the tribe into "good guys" and "bad guys" for a dirt clod fight, but Alexander is hurt during the game. After an argument between KW and Carol, KW leaves once again.
Max finds Alexander alone in the fort. Alexander reveals that he suspected that Max is not a king with magical powers but warns him to never let Carol know. At pre-dawn, Carol throws another tantrum — this time, about the fort, KW's absence, and the eventual death of the sun, which Max talked with Carol about earlier. When Carol gets angry with Max for not doing a good job as king, Douglas tries explaining that he is "just a boy, pretending to be a wolf, pretending to be a king," exposing the truth to the rest of the Wild Things. Carol becomes enraged and rips off Douglas's right arm, though only sand pours from the wound. Carol chases Max into the forest and attempts to eat him. Max is saved by KW, who hides him in her stomach. Max listens as Carol and KW argue over Carol's behavior.
Max finds the crushed remains of Carol's model island and leaves a token of affection for him to find. Max finds Carol and tells him he is going home because he is not a king. The other Wild Things escort Max to his boat. Carol runs to join them after finding Max's token and arrives in time to see him off. He starts to howl and Max howls back; then all the other Wild Things join in. Carol looks at KW, and she smiles kindly at him.
Returning home, Max is embraced by his mother, who gives him a bowl of soup, a piece of cake, and a glass of milk and sits with him as he eats. He watches as she falls asleep.
- Max Records as Max, a lonely child with a wild imagination.
- Catherine Keener as Connie, Max's mother.
- Mark Ruffalo as Adrian, Connie's boyfriend.
- Pepita Emmerichs as Claire, Max's sister.
- Steve Mouzakis as Max's teacher.
- Max Pfeifer, Madeleine Greaves, Joshua Jay, and Ryan Corr as Claire's friends.
- James Gandolfini as Carol, an impulsive Wild Thing.
- Lauren Ambrose as KW, the loner of the group.
- Chris Cooper as Douglas, a cockatoo-like peace-keeper who is Carol's best friend.
- Forest Whitaker as Ira, a gentle, soft-spoken Wild Thing.
- Catherine O'Hara as Judith, a Triceratops-like horned Wild Thing, who is Ira's loud, aggressive girlfriend.
- Paul Dano as Alexander, a goat-like Wild Thing who is constantly ignored, belittled and mistreated.
- Michael Berry Jr. as The Bull, a quiet, intimidating bull-headed Wild Thing who keeps to himself and rarely speaks.
- Spike Jonze as Bob and Terry, two owls, and KW's friends.
- Vincent Crowley as Carol
- Alice Parkinson as KW
- John Leary as Douglas
- Sam Longley as Ira
- Nick Farnell as Judith
- Sonny Gerasimowicz as Alexander
- Angus Sampson as The Bull
Where the Wild Things Are started its development life in the early 1980s, originally to be an animated feature by Disney that would have blended traditionally animated characters with computer-generated settings. Animators Glen Keane and John Lasseter (who later moved on to Pixar) had completed a test film to see how the animation hybridising would work out, but the project proceeded no further. Universal Studios acquired rights to the book's adaptation in 2001 and initially attempted to develop a computer-animated adaptation with Disney animator Eric Goldberg, but in 2003 the CGI concept was replaced with a live-action one, and Goldberg was replaced with Spike Jonze.
After years of interest from various producers, Sendak favoured Spike Jonze as director, noting he was "young, interesting and had a spark that none of the others had". The film was originally set for release from Universal, and a teaser of the film was attached to the studio's 2000 adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Disagreements between Universal and Sendak over Jonze's approach to the story led to a turnaround arrangement where the film's production was transferred to Warner Bros.
In 2005, Jonze and Dave Eggers completed a 111-page screenplay, expanding the original ten-sentence story. On 8 July 2006, production began open auditions for the role of Max. The process took months, but, eventually, Max Records was cast. Academy Award-winning make-up effects supervisor Howard Berger (The Chronicles of Narnia) turned down offers to work on the film four times. Although the book inspired him as a child to work in special effects, he felt filming it was a "horrible idea." Jim Henson's Creature Shop provided the animatronic suits for the Wild Things.
Filming began in April 2006 at Docklands Studios Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. Jonze kept in close consultation with Sendak throughout the process, and the author approved creature designs created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. To make the set a more comfortable environment for Max Records, Jonze encouraged the crew members to bring their children to the set. Some of them can be seen in the film's classroom scene.
Michelle Williams was originally cast as the female Wild Thing KW only to leave the project after her voice "didn't match the original vision of how the Wild Thing should sound". She was replaced by Lauren Ambrose, and filming continued.
In 2008, test footage was leaked onto the internet, garnering mixed reactions. Jonze called the footage "a very early test... to see if our VFX plan for the faces would work," but early fan outcry over the video, along with rumored "scared children" in test audiences led Warner Bros. to delay the film's release for a year. On 20 February 2008, speculation emerged that Warner Bros. was considering reshooting the entire film. Then-WB president Alan F. Horn responded, "We've given him more money and, even more importantly, more time for him to work on the film. We'd like to find a common ground that represents Spike's vision but still offers a film that really delivers for a broad-based audience. No one wants to turn this into a bland, sanitized studio movie. This is a very special piece of material, and we're just trying to get it right." Producer Gary Goetzman followed, "We support Spike's vision. We're helping him make the vision he wants to make." At the end of 2008, Spike got together with Framestore in London to complete his movie and work with them to bring to life the performances through their animation and visual effects team. Over the course of the next six months, Spike spent time with the animators on the floor of the studio as they worked together to realise his intention for the performances that had started many years before with the voices, continued with the suit performances in Australia, and were completed in London's Soho.
For the film's trailer, Arcade Fire provided a re-recorded version of the track "Wake Up" from their album Funeral. The new version is not featured in the actual film or the soundtrack and has never been made available to the public.
Release and reception
The studio decided not to position the film as a children's movie and spent 70% of the advertising on broad-based and adult-driven promotion. The film was released in North America in both conventional and IMAX theatres on 16 October 2009. Early Friday box office estimates show the film earned about $32.7 million on its opening weekend in theaters. It grossed $77.2 million during its theatrical run in the U.S. and Canada, plus $22.8 million internationally. Overall, the studio took a loss as the final budget of the movie was estimated to be around $100 million.
Internationally, the film was released in Australia on 4 December 2009; in Ireland and the UK on 11 December 2009; and in Germany on 17 December 2009. It was released in Russia on 4 February 2010.
Reception to the film has been generally positive. The film holds a 73% approval rating on review website Rotten Tomatoes from 259 reviews with an average score of 6.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Some may find its dark tone and slender narrative off-putting, but Spike Jonze's heartfelt adaptation of the classic children's book is as beautiful as it is uncompromising." Review aggregation website Metacritic gave the film an average score of 71 out of 100 based on 37 reviews. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F.
Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A, declaring the film "one of the year's best." Manohla Dargis of the New York Times wrote that Spike Jonze's "filmmaking exceeds anything he's done" before, while also noting the imaginative visuals and otherworldly feel, along with the fantastic creature effects on the "Wild Things". Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film four stars saying, "For all the money spent, the film's success is best measured by its simplicity and the purity of its innovation." Roger Ebert awarded the film three stars out of four.
Some critics have noted the movie's dark adaptation for children, such as David Denby from The New Yorker saying, "I have a vision of eight-year-olds leaving the movie in bewilderment. Why are the creatures so unhappy?" Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com criticized the film's visual aspect, "Even the look of the picture becomes tiresome after a while — it starts to seem depressive and shaggy and tired." She also stated that "The movie is so loaded with adult ideas about childhood — as opposed to things that might delight or engage an actual child." The Globe and Mail's Liam Lacey branded the production a "self-consciously sad film."
Awards and recognition
Warner Bros. submitted the film for consideration for the 2009 award season.
Suitability for children
Warner Bros. initially feared that the film was not family friendly and would frighten children, but these fears were not shared by Jonze or Sendak, and Jonze refused to compromise. Maurice Sendak said after having seen a completed cut of the film, "I've never seen a movie that looked or felt like this. And it's [Spike Jonze's] personal 'this.' And he's not afraid of himself. He's a real artist that lets it come through in the work. So he's touched me. He's touched me very much." After seeing the finished product, a Warner Bros. executive stated of Jonze, "He's a perfectionist and just kept working on it, but now we know that at the end of the day he nailed it."
Film classification agencies have tended to assign "parental guidance" ratings rather than general or family ratings. MPAA in the United States assessed a PG rating "for mild thematic elements, some adventure action, and brief language". A PG rating was also declared in the United Kingdom by BBFC, citing "mild threat and brief violence". In Canada, the film also received a PG rating in Ontario with an alert for frightening scenes while Quebec awarded a General rating. British Columbia also assessed the film with a G rating with a proviso that it "may frighten young children". In Ireland the film has been classified PG because of what is claimed as having "mild" violence Similarly in South Africa, the film received a PG rating with a consumer content Violence indicator, noting there were "moments of mildish menace and poignant themes." Australia also applied a PG rating to the film and noted "mild violence and scary scenes".
The movie's release generated conflicting views over whether it is harmful to expose children to frightening scenes. Jonze indicated that his goal was "to make a movie about childhood" rather than to create a children's movie. Dan Fellman, Warner Brothers' head of movie distribution, noted that the film's promotion was not directed towards children, advising parents to exercise their own discretion. In an interview with Newsweek, Sendak stated that parents who deemed the film's content to be too disturbing for children should "go to hell. That's a question I will not tolerate" and he further noted "I saw the most horrendous movies that were unfit for child's eyes. So what? I managed to survive."
The film was released as a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital copy combo pack and on DVD on 2 March 2010. The home media release was accompanied by a Canadian-produced live-action/animated short film adaptation of another Sendak work, Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life, produced especially for the Blu-ray edition.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (September 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A video game based on the film was released on 13 October 2009, for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, and Nintendo DS. The former three were developed by Griptonite Games, and the latter by WayForward. All were published by Warner Bros. Games.
Skateboards and limited edition shoes
To coincide with the film's release, Girl Skateboards (which Jonze co-owns) came out with seven pro-model skateboards with the Wild Things as the board graphics. Lakai shoes also re-designed most of their pro-model and stock shoes and added in different colors, adding in pictures of the Wild Things on the side and on others with Where the Wild Things Are printed on the side. UGG Australia also designed limited edition Where The Wild Things Are boots.
A series of collectible vinyl dolls of the Wild Things and Max was released from the Japanese company MediCom Toys. Other releases include an eight-inch articulated figure of Max in wolf costume and smaller scale sets of the characters released under their Kubrick figure banner.
- "Where the Wild Things Are". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 November 2009.
- "Where the Wild Things Are". British Film Institute. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- Price, David A. (2009). The Pixar Touch. Random House. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-307-27829-6. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- "Spike Jonze goes 'Where the Wild Things Are' - CNN.com". CNN. 14 October 2009.
- "Film Victoria - Where The Wild Things Are". Filmed in Melbourne. Archived from the original on 23 March 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- WBshop.com - The Official Online Store of Warner Bros. Studios Archived 29 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Etherington, Daniel. "Where The Wild Things Are Preview". Channel 4. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
- Bowles, Scott; Minzesheimer, Bob (15 October 2009). "Spike Jonze bravely sails into 'Where the Wild Things Are'". USA Today. Retrieved 18 October 2009.
- Mark Hooper (25 February 2008). "Catch of the day: Where the Wild Things Are". Guardian Film Blog. London. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
- Snyder, Gabriel (8 January 2006). "'Wild' ride for Warner". Variety. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- How A Kid's Movie Became A Hipster Happening NPR audio report, 17 October 2009
- Henriksen, Erik (30 June 2006). "Re: Roaring Terrible Roars, Gnashing Terrible Teeth, Rolling Terrible Eyes, Showing Terrible Claws". The Portland Mercury. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- Mike Szymanski (25 November 2008). "Berger On Why He Said No To Wild Things". SCI FI Wire. Archived from the original on 12 April 2009. Retrieved 26 November 2008.
- "Credits". Melbourne Central City Studios. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- Where the Wild Things Are documentary "The Kids Take Over the Picture" (DVD documentary). 2010.
- Jankiewicz, Pat (16 October 2009). "Where the Wild Things Are (Monster Times review)". Fangoria. Archived from the original on 25 October 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- Stephenson, Hunter (20 February 2008). "Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are to Be Entirely Reshot?!". Slashfilm.com. Archived from the original on 9 October 2010. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- Barna, Daniel (24 July 2008). "Spike gets final cut". JoBlo.com. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- Montgomery, James (26 March 2009). "Arcade Fire Re-Record 'Wake Up' For 'Where The Wild Things Are' Trailer". MTV. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- Pols, Mary (14 October 2009). "Where the Wild Things Are: Sendak with Sensitivity". Time. Time Inc. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- Where The Wild Things Are Runs Up $33M by Nikki Finke, Deadline Hollywood, 17 October 2009
- Sperling, Nicole (11 September 2008). "'Where the Wild Things Are' gets long-awaited release date". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 12 September 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2008.
- Smith, Grady (11 September 2008). "'Friday Estimates: Where The Wild Things Are On Top; Law Abiding Citizen Actually Does Well!". The Box Office Junkie. Archived from the original on 20 October 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- Smith, Grady. "'Friday Estimates: Where The Wild Things Are On Top; Law Abiding Citizen Actually Does Well!". Box Office Mojo.
- AAP (19 October 2009). "Monster hit: Where the Wild Things Are tops US box office". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
- Reviews of Where the Wild Things Are 6 October 2009 from Irish Film Classification Office. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
- Wo die wilden Kerle wohnen – movieworlds.com.
- Where the Wild Things Are Russian release date 4 February 2010. Page in Russian.
- "Where the Wild Things Are (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
- "Where the Wild Things Are Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 20 December 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
- "Where the Wild Things Are". Entertainment Weekly. 14 October 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- Dargis, Manohla (16 October 2009). "Movie review: Where the Wild Things Are". New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- Peter Travers (15 October 2009). "Where the Wild Things Are". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- "Where the Wild Things Are". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Denby, David (19 October 2009). "Naughty Boys: Where the Wild Things Are". The New Yorker. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- Stephanie Zacharek (16 October 2009). "Where the Wild Things aren't". Salon.com. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- Lacey, Liam (16 October 2009). "In a magical world, monsters teach a kid a lesson". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
- Seidman, Robert (28 December 2009). ""At The Movies" Best of the Decade Picks". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- Warner Bros. Awards Archived 6 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 12 November 2009.
- Flood, Alison (20 October 2009). "Maurice Sendak tells parents worried by Wild Things to 'go to hell'". The Guardian. London.
- Rose, Steve (5 December 2009). "Spike Jonze: 'I'm never going to compromise'". The Guardian. London.
- Lee, Chris (22 September 2009). "When Spike met Maurice: Bringing 'Where the Wild Things Are' to the screen". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- "Ratings Search: Where the Wild Things Are (2009)". Motion Picture Association of America. Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
- "Where the Wild Things Are". British Board of Film Classification. 6 October 2009. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
- "Where the Wild Things Are (2000083670)". Ontario Film Review Board. 5 October 2009. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
- "Where the Wild Things Are (325783)". Régie du cinéma (Quebec). 5 October 2009. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
- "Where the Wild Things Are". British Columbia Film Classification Office. 28 September 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
- "Where the Wild Things Are". Film and Publication Board. Retrieved 24 October 2009.[permanent dead link]
- "Where the Wild Things Are (Film, 35 mm)". 2 November 2009. Retrieved 28 November 2009.[permanent dead link]
- Thorpe, Vanessa; Asthana, Anushka (18 October 2009). "New film Where the Wild Things Are sends parents into a 'rumpus'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
- Bowles, Scott (20 October 2009). "'Things' too wild and dangerous for a child to see?". USA Today. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Thompson, Bob (17 October 2009). "Not a 'children's' movie". The StarPhoenix. Archived from the original on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
- Setoodeh, Ramin; Romano, Andrew (19 October 2009). "Where the Wild Things Are". Newsweek. Retrieved 29 May 2010.
- "Where the Wild Things Are". DVD Active. 24 January 2010. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- "Madame Tutli-Putli animators revisit Sendak tale". CBC News. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
- Desowitz, Bill (12 March 2010). "Making Higglety Pigglety Pop!" (Interview). Animation World Network. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
- theworldsbestever.com. "Girl Skateboards: Where the Wild Things Are Board Series". www.theworldsbestever.com.
- Lakai Limited Footwear Archived 27 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Where The Wild Things Are Limited Edition Boots Archived 15 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine – UGG Australia. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Where the Wild Things Are|
- Official website
- Where the Wild Things Are on IMDb
- Where the Wild Things Are at AllMovie
- Where the Wild Things Are at Box Office Mojo
- Where the Wild Things Are at Rotten Tomatoes
- Where the Wild Things Are at Metacritic
- Murphy/, Mekado (13 September 2009). "Magical Mystery Tour". New York Times interactive feature. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- "Jonze's Wild Things, A Splendidly Different Animal" (mp3). NPR audio report. National Public Radio.
- "We Love You So: The blog of Spike Jonze and the film Where the Wild Things Are". Archived from the original on 14 May 2009.