Winnie the Pooh (2011 film)

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Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Story by
  • Stephen Anderson
  • Clio Chiang
  • Don Dougherty
  • Don Hall
  • Kendelle Hoyer
  • Brian Kesinger
  • Nicole Mitchell
  • Jeremy Spears
Based on
Produced by
Starring
Narrated byJohn Cleese
CinematographyJulio Macat
(live-action scenes)
Edited byLisa Linder Silver
Music byHenry Jackman
Production
companies
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • April 6, 2011 (2011-04-06) (Belgium)
  • July 15, 2011 (2011-07-15) (United States)
Running time
63 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$30 million[2]
Box office$50.1 million[3]

Winnie the Pooh is a 2011 American animated musical comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures, based on the eponymous novel created by A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard. The 51st animated film produced by the studio,[a] the film is a revival of Disney's Winnie the Pooh franchise and the fifth theatrical Winnie the Pooh film released.

Jim Cummings reprises his voice roles as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, and Travis Oates reprises his voice role as Piglet, while newcomers Tom Kenny, Craig Ferguson, Bud Luckey, and Kristen Anderson-Lopez provide the voices of Rabbit, Owl, Eeyore, and Kanga, respectively. In the film, the aforementioned residents of the Hundred Acre Wood embark on a quest to save Christopher Robin from an imaginary culprit while Pooh deals with a hunger for honey. The film was directed by Stephen Anderson and Don Hall (in his feature directorial debut), produced by Peter Del Vecho and Clark Spencer, and narrated by John Cleese.[5][6]

Production began in September 2008 with Walt Disney Animation Studios' chief creative officer John Lasseter announcing that Disney wanted to create a film that would "transcend generations."[7] The film features six songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, as well as a rendition of the Sherman Brothers' "Winnie the Pooh" theme song by actress/musician Zooey Deschanel.[8] The film was released on April 6, 2011 in Europe and on July 15, 2011 in the United States. It grossed $50 million worldwide on a $30 million budget and received largely positive reviews from critics who praised its nostalgic feeling. Despite the lukewarm reception in general, Disney decided to let go of the idea of releasing one hand-drawn animated film every two years after the film's underperformance despite that it wasn't intentionally expected to be a blockbuster hit like previous works. To date, it is Disney's last traditionally animated theatrical film.[9] However, in 2019, producer Peter Del Vecho and Frozen directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (who eventually became Chief Creative Officer of the animation studio) confirmed that there would be possibilities for other future hand-drawn projects at the studio.

Plot[edit]

The story takes place inside a storybook, whose letters can be seen around many of the scenes. Winnie the Pooh wakes up one day to find that he is out of honey ("The Tummy Song"). While out searching for more, Pooh discovers that Eeyore has lost his tail. Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo come to the rescue ("A Very Important Thing To Do") while Tigger has his bouncing fun. Christopher Robin decides to hold a contest to see who can find a replacement for Eeyore's tail. The prize for the winner is a fresh pot of honey ("The Winner Song"). After everyone else's failed attempts to replace Eeyore's tail, Kanga suggests that they use a scarf. This is declared the winner, but it soon unravels.

Pooh still has not been able to find any honey. He goes to visit Christopher Robin, and finds a note that says "Gon Out Bizy Back Soon", a misspelling of "Gone Out, Busy, Backson". Pooh is unable to read the note, so he asks for Owl's help. Owl's poor reading comprehension skills lead Pooh and his friends to believe that Christopher Robin has been abducted by a ruthless and mischievous creature they call the "Backson" ("The Backson Song"). Rabbit plans to trap the Backson in a pit, which they think he will fall into after following a trail of items leading to it. Meanwhile, Tigger, who wants a sidekick to help him defeat the Backson, recruits a reluctant Eeyore to be a second Tigger ("It's Gonna Be Great"). He dresses up like the Backson and tries to teach Eeyore how to fight. Eeyore manages to escape from Tigger and hides underwater, where he discovers an anchor.

After a failed attempt to get honey from a bee hive, Pooh's imagination combined with his hunger get the better of him ("Everything is Honey"), and he ends up accidentally eating some mud and falling into the pit meant for the Backson. Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, Owl, and Piglet use Eeyore's anchor "replacement tail" as a rope to try to get Pooh out, but everyone but Piglet falls in. Piglet tries to help them out, but consistently overinterprets Rabbit's instructions, leading to the destruction of the only rope he has with him. He goes to find more rope, but runs into Tigger, and mistakes his costume for the actual monster. Piglet flees from Tigger on a red balloon, which knocks some of the storybook's letters into the pit.

After the chase, Tigger and Piglet fall into the trap as well, where Eeyore reminds Tigger that he, being "the only one," is "the most wonderful thing about Tiggers." Eventually, Pooh figures out how to use the fallen letters to form a ladder, and his friends are able to escape the pit. They soon find Christopher Robin, and tell him about the Backson, but he clarifies by saying that he meant to be "back soon." The honey pot prize is given to the red balloon from earlier, much to Pooh's dismay.

Later, Pooh visits Owl, and discovers that Owl, not recognizing what it is, has found Eeyore's tail and is using it as a bell pull. Owl offers Pooh some honey for lunch, but Pooh, ignoring his tummy's loud rumbling, hurries to give Eeyore his tail back. Christopher Robin is proud of Pooh's selflessness; as a reward for his kindness, Pooh is given a pot of honey twice as tall as he is. ("Pooh's Finale")

In a post-credits scene, the Backson is revealed to really exist, but is actually very nice and gentle. He finds the items left for him, including the chalk drawing of himself, which he calls a "scary looking fella." Deciding to return the items to their owners, he starts picking them up but ends up falling into the hole.

Cast[edit]

  • Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh, a yellow bear who loves honey, and Tigger, an energetic and bouncy tiger. Mark Henn served as the supervising animator for Pooh and Andreas Deja served as the supervising animator for Tigger.
  • Bud Luckey as Eeyore, an old grey donkey who is often gloomy and who loses his tail. Randy Haycock served as the supervising animator for Eeyore.
  • Craig Ferguson as Owl, an elderly owl who is not as wise as he thinks, and tells very long and boring stories about his family. Dale Baer served as the supervising animator for Owl.
  • Jack Boulter as Christopher Robin, a young human boy and one of Pooh's best friends. Henn also served as the supervising animator for Christopher Robin.
  • Travis Oates as Piglet, a small pig who's afraid of almost everything, and one of Pooh's best friends. Bruce W. Smith served as the supervising animator for Piglet.
  • Tom Kenny as Rabbit, a rabbit who is very bossy and organized, and loves planting vegetables in his garden. Eric Goldberg served as the supervising animator for Rabbit.
  • Kristen Anderson-Lopez as Kanga, a female kangaroo and Roo's mother. Smith also served as the supervising animator for Kanga.
  • Wyatt Hall as Roo, Kanga's energetic young joey. Smith again served as the supervising animator for Roo.
  • Huell Howser as The Backson, the mysterious creature who was thought to kidnap Christopher Robin. Goldberg also served as the supervising animator for the Backson.
  • John Cleese as the Narrator

Production[edit]

Walt Disney Animation Studios' chief creative officer John Lasseter first approached Stephen Anderson and Don Hall in November 2008 about making a new Winnie the Pooh film for theaters, with the two becoming enthusiastic at the idea and accepting the project.[10][11] In 2009, Lasseter, Anderson and Hall viewed the classic Winnie the Pooh feature shorts and films to figure out how to make the title character culturally relevant.[12][13]

Following a trip to Ashdown Forest in Sussex, South East England to explore the location of A. A. Milne's original stories, the filmmakers enlisted Burny Mattinson, a Disney veteran who worked as the key animator on the 1974 short Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, to serve as lead storyboard artist for the film, with Anderson and Hall directing.[13] After seeing all the feature films about Winnie the Pooh, Mattinson thought he could use Milne's story "In which Eeyore loses his tail and Pooh finds one" as the basic idea for the plot. Mattinson's five-minute pitch for the sequence where Eeyore loses his tail is credited with convincing Disney executives to make the film a feature-length work instead of a featurette.[10] Regarding the decision to use hand-drawn (traditional) animation in lieu of computer-generated imagery (CGI), Anderson stated that "If this were a fully CG-animated [sic] and rendered and lit Pooh, it just wouldn’t feel right. We would be doing the characters a real disservice."[10] Many of the animation staff from The Princess and the Frog (2009) were brought in to work on Winnie the Pooh, as the two films involved traditional animation.[11] The production would also use the same software utilized for Princess and the Frog, Toon Boom Animation's Harmony, to digitally ink and paint the drawings.[14]

Originally, the film was supposed to feature five stories from the A. A. Milne books,[15] but the final cut ended up drawing inspiration from three stories.[16][17] Lasseter had also announced that Rabbit's friends and relatives would be in the film, but their scene was ultimately deleted.[18][19]

Release[edit]

The film was released on Wednesday, April 6, 2011[20] in Belgium; April 11 in Germany; and on April 15 in the United Kingdom.[21] It was released on July 15, 2011, in the United States.[20]

Short films[edit]

The film was preceded by the animated short The Ballad of Nessie, which tells the story of how the Loch Ness Monster and her best friend MacQuack (a rubber duck) came to live in the loch they now call home.[22] In some international screenings, the episode "Cubby's Goldfish" from the Disney Junior series Jake and the Never Land Pirates was aired instead.[23]

Home media[edit]

The film was first released as number 51 in the Animated Classics range on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download on October 25, 2011. The releases included animated shorts The Ballad of Nessie and Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: "Pooh's Balloon," as well as deleted scenes.[24]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 91% of 130 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.20/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Short, nostalgic, and gently whimsical, Winnie the Pooh offers young audiences—and their parents—a sweetly traditional family treat."[25] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 74 out of 100, based on 26 critics, "generally favorable reviews".[26] CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film an "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[27]

Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times says the film "proves a fitting tribute to one of the last century's most enduring children's tales."[28] A. O. Scott of The New York Times praised the film for being able to charm children and parents alike.[29] Roger Ebert, giving it 3 stars out of 4, wrote in his review, "In a time of shock-value 3-D animation and special effects, the look of the film is gentle and pleasing. It was hand-animated, I'm told, and the backgrounds use a subtle and reassuring watercolor style. It's a nightmare-proof experience for even the youngest viewers."[30]

While Platform Online stated that Winnie the Pooh's "hand-drawn animation is such a welcome relief," it found the film's run-time length to be more of an issue, which it stated "At just 70 minutes, even aiming at kids this could have been longer – Pixar have been pushing films well over 90 minutes for years now, and it's clear the children can handle it. Just as you really get into the film it's over, and you're left wanting more."[23]

Box office[edit]

In North America, Winnie the Pooh earned $7.8 million in its opening weekend from 2,405 single-screen locations, averaging about $3,267 per venue, and ranking sixth for the weekend.[31][32] The film closed on September 22, 2011, with a final domestic gross of $26.7 million, with the opening weekend making up 29.44% of the final gross. Among its overseas grosses, Winnie the Pooh had its largest gross in Japan with $4.13 million;[33] the country has had a long-standing affection for the character of Winnie the Pooh.[34][35][36] Other international grosses include $1.33 million in Germany, $1.29 million in Poland, $1.18 million in the UK and $1.14 million in Russia.[2] Overall, it made $23.4 million overseas, bringing the worldwide gross to $50.1 million over a budget of $30 million.[3]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Recipient Result
Annie Awards[37] Animated Effects in an Animated Production Dan Lund Nominated
Character Animation in a Feature Production Andreas Deja
Mark Henn
Annie Award for Directing in a Feature Production Don Hall & Stephen Anderson
Music in a Feature Production Zooey Deschanel, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Henry Jackman, Robert Lopez
Production Design in a Feature Production Paul Felix
Storyboarding in a Feature Production Jeremy Spears Won
Annie Award for Writing in a Feature Production Brian Kesinger, Kendelle Hoyer, Don Dougherty, Clio Chiang, Don Hall, Stephen Anderson, Nicole Mitchell, Jeremy Spears Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Film Don Hall and Stephen J. Anderson
Golden Tomato Awards 2011[38] Best Animated Film Winnie The Pooh 2nd Place
Online Film Critics Society Best Animated Film Nominated
Washington D. C. Area Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature Don Hall and Stephen J. Anderson

Soundtrack[edit]

Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh 2011 Soundtrack.jpg
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJuly 12, 2011 (2011-07-12)
Recorded2011
GenreSoundtrack
LabelWalt Disney
Producer
Walt Disney Animation Studios chronology
Tangled
(2010)
Winnie the Pooh
(2011)
Wreck-It Ralph
(2012)

Hoping to find the right songwriters for their film, Winnie the Pooh directors Anderson and Hall sent visuals to five songwriting teams. The duo instantly fell in love with the demos returned by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez,[39] who had previously worked with executive producer Lasseter and Disney music executive Chris Montan on the theme park musical version of Finding Nemo.[40] The first song which the songwriting candidates were asked to write was the one which became "Everything Is Honey," in which Pooh undergoes a wild hallucination in his desperate hunger for honey.[41] The Lopezes' inspiration for writing their successful demo was their desperate lack of sleep at the time because of the restlessness of their then-newborn younger daughter, Annie.[41] The Lopezes wrote seven songs for the film, including "The Tummy Song," "A Very Important Thing to Do," "Everything Is Honey," "The Winner Song," "The Backson Song," "Pooh's Finale," and "It's Gonna Be Great."[42] "The Backson Song" was also inspired, again, by the Lopezes' ongoing issues with their younger daughter's difficulty with sleeping through the night, as well as the fact that Disney's request for the song came in while they were on "the vacation from hell" on Fire Island (in Anderson-Lopez's words) and they had to borrow a piano at a local church to compose it.[41] In the song, Kanga (voiced by Anderson-Lopez herself) mentions that one thing that Backsons do is "wake up babies at one and three." Zooey Deschanel performed three songs for the film, including a take on the Winnie the Pooh theme song, "A Very Important Thing to Do" and an original end-credit song "So Long," which was written by Deschanel and performed with She & Him bandmate M. Ward.[8]

The film was scored by Henry Jackman, with additional music by Christopher Willis.[43]

In the trailer, the song "Somewhere Only We Know" by English alternative rock band Keane was used instead of the music written by Jackman.[44] The song by Keane is not included on the soundtrack.

The song "So Long" was nominated for Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media at the 2012 ceremony.[45] The film's acclaimed track "The Backson Song," along with "So Long," were part of the pre-nominees for the Academy Award for Best Original Song,[46] and Henry Jackman for the Best Original Score category list.[47] However, none of them received the nominations.

Although Winnie the Pooh did not do as well as hoped because it opened against the last film of the Harry Potter series, it was while working on the film that Disney executives started to really notice the Lopezes' "instinct for storytelling with music."[40] In turn, they did not have to audition for their next Disney project; instead, Disney pitched Frozen to them.[40]

Track Listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Artist(s)Length
1."Winnie the Pooh"Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. ShermanZooey Deschanel & M. Ward2:32
2."The Tummy Song"Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-LopezJim Cummings & Robert Lopez1:07
3."A Very Important Thing to Do"Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-LopezZooey Deschanel0:47
4."The Backson Song"Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-LopezCraig Ferguson, Cast - Winnie the Pooh2:55
5."It's Gonna Be Great"Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-LopezBud Luckey & Jim Cummings2:05
6."Everything Is Honey"Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-LopezJim Cummings, Zooey Deschanel, Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez2:00
7."Pooh's Finale"Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-LopezRobert Lopez, Zooey Deschanel, & Cast - Winnie the Pooh1:05
8."So Long"Zooey DeschanelZooey Deschanel & M. Ward3:28
9."Main Title Sequence / Winnie the Pooh"Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. ShermanZooey Deschanel & M. Ward2:24
10."Pooh Greets the Day"Henry JackmanHenry Jackman2:46
11."Get You Tiggerized!"Henry Jackman, Christopher WillisHenry Jackman2:08
12."Woods and Words / Backson Tracks"Henry Jackman, Christopher WillisHenry Jackman3:41
13."Eeyore Needs His Tail / The Winner Song"Henry Jackman / Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-LopezCast - Winnie the Pooh2:08
14."Picnic and Beehive Chase"Henry JackmanHenry Jackman2:26
15."Hundred Acre Spy Game"Henry JackmanHenry Jackman3:34
16."Stuck in the Pit/Balloon Chase"Henry JackmanHenry Jackman4:04
17."A Honey Happy Ending"Henry JackmanHenry Jackman2:44
18."Winnie the Pooh Suite"Henry Jackman, Christopher WillisHenry Jackman4:38

Other versions[edit]

The Walt Disney Company released five versions,[48][49] for the song "Welcome to my world" featuring Edyta Bartosiewicz for the Polish version, Witaj w moim świecie (Welcome to my world),[50][51] Anca Sigartău for the Romanian version, Bun Venit în Lumea mea (Welcome to My World),[52][53] Zséda for the Hungarian version, Az én világom (My world),[54][55] Evgenia Vlasova for the Ukrainian version, Мій світ (My world),[56][57] and Beloslava for the Bulgarian version, Добре дошъл в моя свят (Dobre doshŭl v moya svyat).[58][59]

Stage adaptation[edit]

A musical theatre adaptation, titled Disney's Winnie the Pooh KIDS, uses additional music from Will Van Dyke and additional lyrics and scenes by Cheryl Davies.[60]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ For marketing purposes, Winnie the Pooh is excised from the list in the UK, and Wreck-It Ralph is the 51st film in Disney's history instead.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McCarthy, Todd (March 31, 2011). "Winnie the Pooh: Movie Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 3, 2016. It's 69 minutes long, including 10 devoted to the credits, ... arguable feature length for the program is reached by tacking on a six-minute opening cartoon, The Ballad of Nessie,...
  2. ^ a b "Winnie the Pooh". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Winnie the Pooh (2011) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  4. ^ "Wreck It Ralph: official pack shot with "51" numbering". Amazon.co.uk. June 3, 2013. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
  5. ^ Orange, Alan (November 11, 2010). "Winnie the Pooh Trailer and Photos". MovieWeb. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  6. ^ Patta, Gig (February 25, 2011). "Poster for Winnie the Pooh Animated Movie". Latino Review. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  7. ^ Brown, Mark (September 10, 2009). "Disney Brings Back Winnie the Pooh". Guardian. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  8. ^ a b Walt Disney Pictures (March 31, 2011). "Zooey Deschanel Performs Three Songs for Winnie the Pooh Read more: Zooey Deschanel Performs Three Songs for Winnie the Pooh". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
  9. ^ Lussier, Germain (March 6, 2013). "Walt Disney Company Currently Not Developing Any Hand-Drawn Animated Features". /Film. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
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  40. ^ a b c Rudulph, Heather Wood (April 27, 2015). "Get That Life: How I Co-Wrote the Music and Lyrics for "Frozen"". Cosmopolitan. Hearst Communications, Inc. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
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  45. ^ "Exploring The Musical Theater, Visual Media Field Nominees". Grammy. January 27, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
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External links[edit]