Our Picks: The Best Movies About Animals

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.

Why Did Blu-Ray Beat HD-DVD in the Race to Replace the DVD?

blu ray vs hd dvdThere were a number of factors that contributed to the prevalence of Blu-ray technology over HD-DVD in the battle of the high definition video disc that would replace ordinary DVDs. This battle lasted for almost a decade, involving all major electronics companies, film studios and production companies and of course consumers, who were caught in the middle of the ongoing fight.

It all started in 2000, when the innovative technology of blue lasers, instead of red, was utilized in optical disc systems. The wavelength of blue laser beam is much shorter than red. Because of this, data can be stored in much less actual space, providing a disc of the size of a DVD with at least three times its regular capacity. This additional space is used to store high definition video.

So, in 2000 Sony and Pioneer revealed DVR Blue, which was the cradle of Blu-ray discs. Two years later, Sony introduced the Blu-ray Disc plans. A few months later, Toshiba and Nec propose a new disc format that would later become the HD DVD. In October 1st 2002, at Japan’s Ceatec exhibition, Toshiba demonstrated the predecessor of HD DVD, AOD (Advanced Optical Disc). At the same time, Sony, Pioneer, Sharp, Panasonic and JVC unveiled a prototype Blu-ray Disc recorder. A year later, Mitsubishi Electric joins the Blu-ray Disc team, which is getting ahead by commercializing its products and releasing the first Blu-ray recorder at the price of almost 4,000 USD.

In 2004, Toshiba introduces to the market the first HD-DVD player, which is also compatible with DVDs. It gains support by HBO, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures. However, the Blu-ray format is growing and gaining recognition. Hewlett-Packard and Dell advocate in favor of Blu-ray, together with Walt Disney Pictures.

The following year was rather confusing. Having two formats was pointless, so Toshiba and Sony discussed the possibility of an integration, however their talks were inconclusive. Lions Gate Home Entertainment and Universal Music Group decided to back Blu-ray, while Microsoft and Intel decided to support HD-DVD. Paramount and Hewlett-Packard revised their decision of an exclusive support. A little later in 2006, LG, which was thought to be a Blu-ray supporter, announced that it is developing an HD-DVD drive. At that point, things were very ambivalent.

The two following years were turbulent. In 2007, LG introduced a dual-format player, while Warner Bros unveils a disc holding both formats. These were unsuccessful attempts to preserve both formats since this was not cost effective. One after the other, movie production studios dropped one of the two formats. There was a price plummeting of Toshiba products through 2007. At the early beginning of 2008, Warner Bros announced that will drop HD-DVD format. Within the next few days, Toshiba tried to sell out. Major retailers in the US gradually phased out HD-DVD. Best Buy and Netflix announced their intention a few days before Wal-Mart. And on the 16th of February 2008, it was broadcasted that Toshiba discontinues the production of HD-DVD players.

The Blu-ray preceded the HD-DVD and had built a stronger foundation. The Blu-ray team consisted of a great number of companies, many of which participated in the original projects. The Blu-ray does offer some advantages over the HD-DVD format. As a result, when Toshiba lost the support of Warner Bros, merely lost the fight.