Co-directors/ co-writers Chris Sanders (left, in the video below) and Kirk De Micco pulled off the impossible at the Oscars. They managed to win over the snootiest group in Hollywood to nominate their film about cavemen barbarians – “The Croods” – for Best Animated Feature.
Obviously, Ellen DeGeneres and other Oscarcast hooligans will have a few jokes ready for them on awards night, but they’re looking forward to it and they may even wear “little leopard bow ties perhaps” to the formal ceremony, Sanders says with a chuckle.
But “The Croods” is serious moviemaking. It was such a spectacular success at the box office ($600 million worldwide) that a sequel is already greenlit. What’s the secret to its success?
“From the very beginning, we knew that we had to fulfill certain caveman expectations,” Sanders says in our webcam chat. “You want it to be funny and you want to see these guys doing what you expect them to do when you buy a ticket to a caveman movie. There are these lunkheaded guys bouncing off cave walls, getting chased by animals, jumping off cliffs …. But by the end, the movie has gone to a very different, deep and very human place. And I think that really won people over.”
One of the most fascinating parts of our chat is De Micco’s description of how they interacted with animators, who were given lots of freedom to be creative. Example: the cave art illustration by Margaret Wuller (above), which was not in the original script.
It’s an image of the film’s protagonist, Grug, with his arms around his family. When they saw it, “we thought, ‘Wow, that’s Grug on the other side of the journey,'” De Micco says. “At the beginning of the movie, he’s drawing these kind of comedic Grimm’s fairy tales of everyone dying. Then this is the first thing he actually paints from a place of hope. When we saw that image, we went back to the script and wrote him into that cave by himself to have that moment alone to paint this image of hope. That’s an example of the art informing the script instead of the script just informing the art.”
Below: watch our full video chat and give us your prediction of what will win Best Animated Feature. Make your initial pick now – you can change it later as often as you like.