Just recently, ‘The Croods’ premiered at the Berlin Festival. Directors Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders were on hand for the event and were glad for it since this has been an ongoing project since 2005. That’s quite a long time, even for an animated film. However, at that time, it was originally supposed to be in stop-motion animation by Aardman Animations rather than the digitally created one it is now.
“Back then, this film had a different title: Crood Awakenings,” Di [sic] Micco explained.
“Its story also had a somewhat different slant. My co-writer on that earlier version of this project — Monty Python’s John Cleese — is deathly afraid that technology is ultimately going to ruin civilization. So we were looking to use this battle of one-upmanship between two cavemen as a way to comically illustrate this concept.”
Apparently it was also centered on one caveman, instead of a whole family, having to deal with all the changes in the world.
“That’s what I think makes The Croods really unique,” said DiMicco’s co-director Chris Sanders.
This movie really doesn’t have a villain. The thing that keeps pushing our set of characters forward, that constantly challenges them is change. The very ground that they’re standing on — thanks to the continental split — is constantly changing due to earthquakes and all of these great chasms opening up. So the only way that this family of cavemen can hope to survive amid this upheaval is by embracing change.
Getting back now to last week’s world premiere of The Croods, what pleased Kirk and Chris the most, what made them feel that all of those years which they’d spent reworking this movie’s story had ultimately been worth it, was the reaction that the audience in Berlin had to what happens in Act 3. Which is when (SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD) this animated feature makes a deft left turn. Transforming from a broad comic adventure which is loaded with slapstick to this sweet & sincere story where our caveman family is suddenly faced with some very real peril. And one member of this comical clan has to make a pretty huge sacrifice.
“We actually built this movie around that moment,” Kirk explained.
We deliberately loaded the first two acts of The Croods with fun comic sequences because we wanted the audience to laugh and slowly fall in love with our cavemen characters. Just so — when we get to that sacrifice in Act 3 — the stakes are suddenly so high that the audience then can’t help but get caught up in the emotion of the moment.
Based on the reaction that The Croods got at the Berlin Film Festival last Friday night, Di Micco and Sanders’ story structuring gamble paid off. Which is why festival attendees came away from this world premiere of this new animated feature comparing it to some of the stronger titles that DreamWorks Animation has released over the past 15 years. Among them the original Shrek, the first Kung Fu Panda, and Chris’s DWA directorial debut, How to Train Your Dragon.
I’m really hoping for a more successful run for this movie, to make up for what (sadly, and shockingly) ‘Rise of the Guardians’ couldn’t achieve. Box office success. And I loved ‘Rise of the Guardians,’ which if you liked as well, will be out on DVD/Blu-Ray on March 12, 2013. Also, knowing that ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ director Chris Sanders was involved makes me giddy with excitement.