20th Century Fox hasn’t been very fortunate in the past few years with its theatrical releases (X-men 3, anyone?), which is why they may have decided to release the animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox under their indie division Fox Searchlight.
Searchlight has had a recent string of hits including, Napoleon Dynamite, Juno, The Wrestler and this year’s Oscar powerhouse Slumdog Millionaire, so this could turn out to be a very shrewd move for the studio and the filmmakers. It also gives audiences a chance to see what the directors and producers can do on their own without a lot of meddling by Fox, which takes a more “hands off” approach with Searchlight.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on the novel of same name, written by Roald Dahl and directed by Wes Anderson. Dahl also wrote the classic stories Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. Wes Anderson, the director of indie classics Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and the underrated Bottle Rocket, shares screenplay credits with Noah Baumbach, and is joined by the voices of George Clooney (Mr. Fox), Meryl Streep (Mrs. Fox) and Bill Murray (Badger). Jason Schwartzman and Angelica Houston also lend their voices, but reports say their roles are no more than cameos.
Mr. Fox is filmed with the stop motion animation technique similar to Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit and James and the Giant Peach. Each of those films were favorably received by audiences and critics, so Mr. Fox should have no problem selling tickets at a box office hungry for family-friendly film.
The story revolves around some angry farmers who are tired of sharing their chickens with a sly fox and are looking to get rid of their opponent and his family. I think the film is on the right path to becoming a great movie, especially with names like Dahl, Anderson, Clooney and Searchlight attached to it.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is scheduled to hit U.S. theaters November 13th with releases in the UK and Russia on October 22nd and 23rd respectively. We could see a trailer attached to Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs on July 1st but that has not yet been confirmed.