Although it is that much more difficult to make a film about an animal, a family movie that involves animals is a guaranteed box office hit. Most such movies involve dogs because they are more accessible and are easier to train. However, there are popular films about a number of animals such as horses, like ‘The Black Stallion’ released in 1979, marine mammals, like ‘Flipper’ released in 1996 featuring a dolphin, and primates, such as ‘Gorillas in The Mist’ released in 1988. Which of those are really the best is a matter of personal taste. Nonetheless, popularity can be measured in gross revenue.
One of the most popular, thus one of the most profitable movies involving not one but over a hundred dogs, is the ‘101 Dalmatians’ released in 1996. An incredible feat of training, it’s likely that many training tactics were employed, and we thank the team at k9fencereviews.com for letting us know about some of the methods they likely used to keep the dogs in check while between takes. They may very well have used PetSafe products to keep the dogs from running about when the film wasn’t rolling.
The movie was written and produced by John Hughes, based on the homonymous novel by Dodie Smith published in 1956. It was the second adaptation of the novel by Walt Disney Pictures. The first was an animated film released in 1961. It was directed by Stephen Herek and grossed over 300 million dollars worldwide.
The film is about an American video game designer Roger (Jeff Daniels), who lives in London with his pet Dalmatian, Pongo. Roger and Anita (Joely Richardson) meet and marry when Pongo goes after Anita’s female Dalmatian, Perdy. Anita is a fashion designer at the House of de Vil. Her boss, Cruella de Vil (Glenn Close) is inspired to make a coat out of Dalmatians. She instructs two of her henchmen to pay for or steal Dalmatian puppies, together with Perdy’s 15 newborns and take them to her country estate. The men are outsmarted by other dogs and animals and the puppies manage to escape, whereas Cruella is arrested while trying to retrieve them.
Another very popular animal film is ‘Free Willy’ released in 1993. It features a captive orca whale and its bond to a 12-year-old troublesome boy. This family drama film, made Warner Bros over 150 million dollars worldwide, so they decided to go ahead with three sequels (The Adventure Home, The Rescue, and Escape from Pirate’s Cove), as well as a brief, animated tv series, none of which was as profitable though. The theme for the film was produced and performed by Michael Jackson and won the best movie song MTV award.
The plot is touching. A young boy, Jesse (Jason James Richter), stranded by his mother at the age of 6, is wandering the streets of Astoria, Oregon and gets caught by the police vandalizing a water theme park. After finding a foster home, he is obligated to clean up after himself at the park. At the process, he becomes close with an orca whale name Willy and decides to set him free. At the end, with the aid of his new parents, he manages to do so. The film received much criticism, as the irony is apparent in the finale. The star was far from being actually free and would be kept in a tank for a considerable number of years, until its actual release in 2002.
Documentaries depict animals much more accurately than any other film; however, very rarely a documentary becomes a huge box office hit. The ‘March of the Penguins’ is a 2005 French production, which grossed almost 130 million dollars. It was directed by Luc Jacquet and co-produced by the National Geographic Society. The documentary is about the annual journey of Emperor Penguins of Antarctica and their extreme breeding practices. It took the cinematographers two years to film it under severe conditions. It won an academy award in 2005, as it took audiences by storm on a global scale.