The Wild is a computer-animated film directed by Steve "Spaz" Williams, produced by Clint Goldman, assistant produced by John Burton and C.O.R.E. Feature Animation, and was released by Walt Disney Pictures on April 14, 2006 in the US.
The star of the New York zoo, a lion named Samson, is embarrassed by his son Ryan during a game of 'turtle shelling' and what results is an argument between the two. Ryan runs away, and inadvertently finds himself being shipped across the sea. Samson, with the aid of his friends Benny (a squirrel), Bridgette (a giraffe), Larry (a snake), and Nigel (a koala) set out to find him and return to the zoo. The come into conflict with a cult of wildebeests who wish to 'ascend' to the rank of predator by performing a grisly ritual and consuming a lion. The leader of the cult, however, abuses the others and in the end is overthrown and dies. Samson and Ryan are reunited and they all return home safely.
Criticism caused by Madagascar similarities
received some harsh responses even before the trailer premiered. Movies.com
described it as "Madagascar
meets Finding Nemo
with The Lion King
thrown in for effect."
The movie has many similarities to Madagascar including its setting in New York, similar animals as characters, and the primary plot of introducing zoo animals to the wild. The name of the film and the tag line, "Start spreading the newspaper", a play on the opening line from the "Theme from New York, New York", were both used as integral plot points in Madagascar. The koala's line "Sprechen Sie Koala?" mirrors Madagascar's: "You. Quadruped. Sprechen Sie Englisch?" Because of this, some people believe that the movie is a possible plagiarism of Madagascar, a Jack Bauer-meets-Madagascar film. Rotten Tomatoes describes the critics' consensus on The Wild as "With a rehashed plot and unimpressive animation, there's nothing wild about The Wild". The similarities to Finding Nemo are having a young animal being kidnapped somewhere else, and his parent goes out to find him.
There is evidence that The Wild was in production for a decade. The director, Steve Williams, said that he received the script in 2001. His contract with Disney stated that C.O.R.E would animate, and this contract was green-lit in 2003. The Wild has reportedly been in some form of production for a decade, first being called The Big Break, then Wildlife, and finally The Wild. Animators from the film have come forward on internet communities such as IMDb and stated openly that they had been working on The Wild already when they first saw the trailer for Madagascar. Several even believe that Marty's line "I wish I could go to The Wild!" from Madagascar is a direct mocking of their own efforts. "The Wild" was so long in production because of the sheer painstaking effort of trying to achieve perfection... so much so that the lions each had over 8 million hairs in their manes.
It is the belief of some that Madagascar was rushed into production to "beat" The Wild into theaters. Many supporters of this theory cite their personal opinions on the story and animation quality of Madagascar as being poor.
Despite that, Madagascar was more successful financially than The Wild.
This would not be the first time for Disney and Dreamworks that two films with a similar theme were released in proximity timewise. In the fall of 1998, Dreamworks released its talking bug film "Antz" mere weeks before Disney/Pixar released "A Bug's Life". A similar scheduling occurred in 2000 when Dreamworks released The Road to El Dorado against Disney's The Emperor's New Groove, both set in Central/South America, using similar animation styles. Later on in 2004, Dreamworks released Shark Tale, which had an underwater theme resembling that of Pixar's Finding Nemo (2003), and the new film Ratatouille has a rodent themed world like Flushed Away (although Flushed Away was merely helped by Dreamworks). It has also been suggested that Disney's rebranding of Rapunzel: Unbraided as Rapunzel was due to its original similarity to Shrek's parodying of fairy tale worlds.
- Samson the Lion: Samson is a male lion whose son Ryan is lost after lecturing him for inadvertently putting the others in danger. While he has been always known to be wild, he is really a circus lion cub, and mature zoo lion at heart! Even though he brags about knowing a lot about the wild, his secret is that he's never really been, and is making all of the stories up. Samson is a good lion though, and doesn't mean to fool his friends. Voiced by Kiefer Sutherland.
- Benny the Squirrel: Benny is a street-smart squirrel with great knowledge. Of all the animals who help save Ryan, Benny is Samson's favorite. He is the only one who knows Samson's secret. He also has a crush on Bridget, and is not afraid to admit it. Voiced by Jim Belushi.
- Bridget the Giraffe: Insecure and easily pampered, Bridget is the only female in the group. Benny considers her the most beautiful and exotic animal in all of the Big Apple. She is perfect of being physical. Voiced by Janeane Garofalo.
- Nigel the Koala: Nigel is a koala who's tired of being "cute". His life is somewhat changed, however, when he's worshipped by the wildebeests. He is worshipped because of a talking plush that says "I'm so cuddly, I like you," only when you tug on its pull string. Which is responsible for scaring the pack of lions away when it falls off a biplane, into the savannah plains, scaring the lions who scream like sissies. The toy later appears charred with its voice distorted, at the end of the film, when it is rocketed out of a volcanic crater. Voiced by Eddie Izzard.
- Larry the Anaconda: A dim-witted anaconda who tries to keep up with Samson and the gang, despite his lack of hands or legs. Though he does help, being the stretchiest animal in the U.S., he can be many things, such as a turtle shooter at turtle curling. Some noted a resemblance to Kaa the python, from The Jungle Book. Voiced by Richard Kind.
- Ryan the Lion Cub: Ryan is Samson's 11-year-old son. After he, Eze, and Duke accidentally provoked a gazelle stampede and invoking Samson's anger over losing the curling championship, Ryan sneaks into a green transport box and winds up getting shipped to Africa. Voiced by Greg Cipes.
- Kazar the Wildebeest: The primary villain of the film, Kazar is a wicked wildebeest who no longer wants to dwell at the bottom of the food chain. He is somewhat insane, actually wanting to eat meat and was successful in convincing other Wildebeest. Voiced by William Shatner.
- Blag the Wildebeest: Kazar's poor assistant is always in trouble for the tiniest things. Though during Kazar's combat, he gets his sweet revenge he has always desired. Voiced by Patrick Warburton.
- Cloak and Camo the Chameleons: Covert agents or not, they were caught by Benny and shown to Samson, since they might know a thing or two about where Ryan is, but they turn out to be on Samson's side and help in rescuing Ryan. Cloak gets carried away easily; for instance, he revealed his and Camo's names. Camo is more serious than his partner, and sticks to covert agent rules, in contrast to Cloak's "revealing" nature. Voiced by Bob Joles and Chris Edgerly.
- Stan and Carmine the Alligators: Looking ferocious, they might be deadly, but when settled, they can help. And so they do, while helping Samson and the gang get out of the sewers. Voiced by Joseph Siravo and Lenny Venito.
- Scraw and Scab the Vultures: Two vultures who make quick cameos while finding Ryan out in the jungle, however, disappear, during Samson's mini combat. Voiced by Eddie Gossling and Jonathan Kimmel.
- The Dogs: These vicious mutts, apparently two rottweilers and a poodle, chase Samson and his companions through the city in hot pursuit. During this sequence, Samson has his chance to show courage, but fails - but he and his pals manage to escape from the dogs.
- Donald the Turtle: The turtle used for turtle shelling at the zoo.
- 'Team Penguin: The competition team for turtle shelling in New York. The team's captain is a wise-guy penguin named Victor.
- The Pigeons: They play a major part in telling where Ryan is headed, to the lady with the spikes. This flock of birds includes a crazy molting pigeon named Hamir.
- The Canadian Geese: New friends of Benny that help at sea to find the ship that's holding Ryan. These geese are led by a spunky goose named Nelson (whose speech impedement bares a striking resemblance to that of Rutt and Tuke's in Brother Bear).
- Eze the Hippopotamus and Duke the Kangaroo: Ryan's friends at the zoo who try to make him go "wild". They coax Ryan to come along with them to stalk a herd of gazelles, a prank that winds up backfiring. Voiced by Jack DeSena and Miles Marsico.
- Colin the Hyrax: Samson meets one and tries to eat it, but can't, blowing his cover -- he's not from the wild. Voiced by Colin Cunningham.
- The Monkeys: A group of hecklers who harassed Nigel with a doll that looks like him.
- Dung Beetles: These absent-minded incects with German accents mistake Benny for a ball of po...dung.
- Fergus Flamingo: One of the flamingo bullies that go rough on Nigel. He also sells fish heads at the turtle curling game.
- Rhinoceros: A rhino at the zoo with a foam hand on his horn who is Samson's "number one fan".
- Samson's Father: Samson's brutal father appears in a flashback in the scene where Samson tells Ryan the truth. Voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson.
- Mama Hippo and Baby Hippo: When Ryan meets a cute little baby hippopotamus, the infant's screaming mother throws her weight around (literally) which frightens Ryan and he runs off deeper into the jungle.
- Elephant: After the green box carrying Ryan has landed, the young cub escapes from it and encounters an oncoming elephant, who is absolutely terrified of him.
Reception and merchandise
The Wild opened in 2,854 theaters. According to BoxOfficeMojo.com
, the film earned 9.5 million dollars in its first weekend at the box office, ranking #4.
Its promotion was small, with only the following promoters: Kraft, McDonalds, Amazon (selling the products and mini promotions on its site), Buena Vista Games, Walt Disney Records and Walt Disney Book Publishing Worldwide.
As of November 5, 2006, the film has grossed a total of $37,384,046 in the United States box office & $102,338,399 worldwide. Its production budget, in contrast, was $80 million.
The Wild was ranked #1 of the top DVD sales twice in Entertainment Weekly (The first time for October 6-12, 2006, the second time for October 13-19, 2006).
The musical score is composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri
. The song "Real Wild Child
" is performed by Everlife
. The song "Good Enough" is performed by Lifehouse
; "Really Nice Day" is performed by Eric Idle
and John Du Prez
; and "Big Time Boopin'" is performed by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
. The scores "Tales From The Wild", "You Can't Roar", and "Lost In The City" are only a few of the scores on the soundtrack, and "Come Sail Away" is performed by Styx
. The soundtrack is available from Walt Disney Records
was played when the animals were in a rubbish truck.
A video game for Game Boy Advance
based on "The Wild" was released to coincide with the film. Players get to play as Benny the Squirrel and Samson the lion as they go through New York, the sea, and Africa
to find Ryan, while battling the wicked wildebeest Kazar. The video game was rated E
for Cartoon Violence.
The games on the official website are Alliagator Alley, Turtle Toss, and Benny's Lunk Dunk.
, debuted on screens in Israel (6 April 2006), though only in limited release in the country.
- April 6, 2006: Israel
- April 7, 2006: Colombia
- April 12, 2006: Belgium, France, Spain
- April 13, 2006: Argentina, Colombia, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Thailand
- April 14, 2006: Brazil, Canada, Turkey, United States
- April 20, 2006: Greece, South Korea
- April 21, 2006: Iceland
- April 26, 2006: The Netherlands, Philippines
- April 27, 2006: Hong Kong, Singapore
- May 26, 2006: Poland, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland
- June 1, 2006: Austria, Germany
- June 8, 2006: Slovenia
- August 31, 2006: Czech Republic
- September 1, 2006: Australia
- October 20, 2006: Finland
- October 28,2007: India
- June 20, 2008: Disney Channel Scandinavia (TV Premiere)
- July 4, 2008: Disney Channel(TV Premiere)
- Dung Beetles: Julianne Buescher, Nika Futterman
- Additional Voices by Keith Anthony, Greg Berg, Bob Bergen, Jason Connery, Debi Derryberry, Terri Douglas, Jeannie Elias, Eddie Frierson, Nicholas Guest, Jess Harnell, Jason Harris, Bridget Hoffman, Emily Johnson, John Kassir, Daniel Kaz, Josh Keaton, Nolan North, Paul Pape, Peter Pamela Rose, Fred Tatasciore, Kari Wahlgren, Townsend Coleman, Hannah Williams, and Steve 'Spaz' Williams