The Epic Animals Epic Movie is a 2002 animated actioncomedy-drama film based off of the animated television series The Epic Animals, directed by series creator IAmBagel. The film centers around titular trio being thrusted into an alternate future where an villainous version of Catnip rules over Earth. With their friendship on the verge of a breakdown, the trio attempt to piece together what happened that lead to Catnip's eventual downfall and attempt to rewrite history, while also questioning what it truly means to be a hero.
Kingson originally offered IAmBagel to make a film based off the series when the series third season premiered in Summer 2000. While skeptical about the idea at first, he eventually gave in and the film started production in December of that year. Knowing that the typical plotline and style of the television show would not work at all in a feature production, IAmBagel and Ralf Hat conceived a plotline that tested the ideals and ideas that the television show stood for, including the gang's friendship and their endless quest for approval and heroism.
The film was released on July 3, 2002, to generally favorable reviews, with critics praising its storyline, character development and being true to the spirit of the television series while also presenting a new spin on it. It grossed $180 million worldwide on a $30 million budget, making it a box office success as well as the third highest-grossing animated film of 2002 behind Lilo & Stitch and Ice Age. The film made its network premiere on Kingson on May 25, 2003, with the premiere garnering over 6 million viewers.
The Epic Animals have been doing the same exact shtick for years: attempt to defeat a villain, fail, rinse and repeat. This begins to upset the trio, mostly Catnip, who feels as if he isn't suitable to be a hero. As their friendship begins to take a toll, Illinois is suddenly attacked by a robotic, futuristic army, who is led by a seeming older, robotic version of Catnip. Through unforeseen circumstances, the trio end up in the future after the invasion, where Catnip has complete control over Illinois and has killed off every major hero on Earth, effectively making him a supervillain. Confused, upset and angered by this revelation, the trio attempt to discover what lead to Catnip's downfall and reverse it, but the further revelations of this journey may be too big for their friendship to handle. Meanwhile, Diane and Squirmer, still in the past, band together the heroes and villains of Illinois and plot to overthrow Future Catnip's grip over their city.
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In the far-off year of 2069, we see a cloaked figure strolling through a massive, technologically advanced laboratory. He enters a room where we see various hooded figures at work, typing away on a large console. The cloaked figure asks the hooded figures if the device is ready, to which they all nod. Smirking, the figure places a purple gem inside a hole in the console's control panel, which causes the entire setting to violently shake. As the shaking stops, a large, green portal appears in front of the building. The cloaked man orders the hooded figures to "send the fleet" into the portal, and they begin to erratically scurry out of the room and enter multiple spaceships, flying into the portal. Laughing, the cloaked man presses a button on the console which converts the building he is in into a spaceship, and flies into the portal.
In the present day, the city of Illinois, Wisconsin, known for it's superhero and supervillain activity, is under threat when the villains of the city enact a plan to detonate a bomb in the middle of the city. Coming to the city's aid to stop them, unfortunately, is a trio of infamous superhero wannabes known as The Epic Animals. The villains are unimpressed by their adversaries, as they have been known to fail every attempt they make at saving the city. Nevertheless, the trio enact their plan to take down the villains, but, as usual, fail quite horribly. As the more competent heroes of Illinois arrive and take them down, the trio sulk back to their base in defeat.
As the series itself began to grow in popularity during 1999 and 2000, Paramount Pictures took notice and began negotiating with Kingson executives about a possible theatrical film based on the series. While the two initially agreed on the film idea, the production crew behind the show itself was skeptical, feeling that the show's style would not work well for a 90-minute film. After further negotiations, however, IAmBagel and the rest of the crew eventually agreed to make the film in September 2000.
Despite the film being placed into production, the crew was at a loss of what to do concerning the plot and themes, citing that the show's overly silly comedic themes would not work well in a full-length film intended for multiple audiences, including fans of the show. Wanting to do something bigger and overall more serious, IAmBagel and Ralf Hat began work on a story that expanded more upon the themes that the television show revolved around (the trio's friendship and heroism). Despite wanting to do a more serious storyline, IAmBagel still wanted comedy to be a strong focus and found several ways to keep the show's comedy style into the film without distracting it from the plot. However, many liberties had to be taken in order to ensure that the film's themes and overall plot would be portrayed strongly, which lead to certain characters being reduced to minor roles, cameos, or being excluded from the film. Mr. Narrator and Mayor T in particular are both major characters in the show itself, but do not have any real relevance to the plot. Mr. Narrator for example, who has many lines of dialogue in most episodes and interacts with the cast, only has 5 lines of dialogue in the film and does not interact with the cast at all.
In October of 2000, Paramount set the film for a March 29, 2002 release, but later pushed it to May 24, 2002, as they felt the film was more akin to a summer blockbuster and would therefore be more successful in that release span. After the 9/11 attacks occurred, the crew was forced to re-write and re-animate the final act of the film, which caused Paramount to push it once more to a July 3, 2002 release.
Prior to release, Paramount excessively promoted the film, which included merchandise from the film (clothing, toys, etc), tie-in promotions with certain restaurants and stores, as well as a video game released on several major consoles.
The Epic Animals Epic Movie Epic Soundtrack: Music From and Inspired By the Motion Picture
A soundtrack containing songs from the film and the film's musical score titled The Epic Animals Epic Movie Epic Soundtrack: Music From and Inspired By the Movie was released on July 2, 2002, one day before the film was released in theaters. The film's musical score (tracks 8-28) was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, the same composer of the television series. The musical score combines the jazz/techno from the original series with orchestrated and grand themes most commonly heard in superhero films. The first two tracks of the album are the only songs actually featured in the film itself (One Little Victory being the end credits theme and Holding Out for a Hero playing during the final battle).
Box office pundits expected the film to gross $20-25 million on opening weekend and $35 million overall from it's Wednesday launch, but proved to exceed expectations in the following days. The film grossed $9,001,034 on it's opening day with a $3,051 per theater average, debuting at #2 behind Men in Black II, as well as setting a record for the biggest opening day for an American animated film based on a television series (which would be surpassed in 2004 by Shapes: Race Against Time). The film grossed $30,914,540 on its opening weekend, being released in 3,052 theaters, leaving it #2 during the weekend behind Men in Black ll. The film grossed $119,657,394 in North America and $60,902,879 in other countries, with a total gross of $180,560,273 worldwide, which made it the highest-grossing animated film based on a television series until it was surpassed in 2004 by Shapes: Race Against Time.
The Epic Animals Epic Movie received positive reviews from critics. Based on 101 reviews, the film holds a 81% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus stating "While it somewhat differs from the television series, The Epic Animals Epic Movie still delivers family-oriented fun while also showing more depth and emotion to it's already well-known characters". It holds a score of 68% on Metacritic, indicating "Generally favorable reviews. It holds a 6.9 on the Internet Movie Database. Fan reception has been more mixed than positive, however, with many criticizing the film for abandoning the superhero satire and parody in favor of a character-driven dramatic storyline.
The film was released onto VHS and DVD on November 19, 2002 in both wide-screen and full-screen formats by Paramount Home Entertainment. The DVD includes various special features, such as an 20-minute behind the scenes featurette entitled The Epic Story Behind The Epic Animals Epic Movie, featuring interviews with the principal cast and crew. It was re-released onto Blu-ray on January 8, 2013.
The film was originally scheduled for release on March 29, 2002, but was later rescheduled to June 7, 2002, as Paramount believed the film would be more successful if it switched to a summer release date. It then switched to July 3, 2002, as the animation and writing crew were forced to scrap sections of the film's final act.