One of the toughest aspects for Mark Swift to nail down in producing the “The Croods: A New Age” was figuring out how to frame the Bettermans, the rival family that the Croods encounter. “We didn’t want the Bettermans to be your traditional bad villains. We wanted them to be a little misguided, a little snobby but then try to find what’s the thing that will drive the story,” he tells us in our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above). He adds that the first half of the film came together very quickly but after that, many questions came up on how the story should proceed. “Where do we go with this family? What is the challenge their up against? How do they learn to work together? That, probably, was the part that took the most time for us.”
“The Croods: A New Age” is the sequel to “The Croods,” which scored an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature in 2013. In this installment, the Crood family is searching for a place to live when they happen on a walled-off area full of vibrantly colored foods and plants. The area belongs to the Betterman family and while they first welcome the Croods to stay with them, they soon hope to be rid of the family as they think they are better than them. The entire original cast returns for this film including Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Nicholas Cage, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke and the late great Cloris Leachman. The Betterman family is voiced by Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann and Kelly Marie Tran.
Swift also spoke movingly about the film containing one of the last performances of Leachman, the Oscar and Emmy-winning legend who passed away in January at the age of 94. Leachman reprised the role of Gran in the film. “She was definitely getting older and more frail; we sensed it when we were recording with her. But once she would warm up in the room and get her energy, she was a firecracker and so fun to be with.” He adds that while it being one of her last roles is sad, he’s incredibly proud that she was still able to be a part of it. “It’s something we’ll all cherish. She had an amazing part in this film. It’s a better role than she had in the first film. It’s very sad but I’m glad that we had that chance to work with her.”
Swift admits that there is a chance we could see further stories being told about this family but that there are several things that need to be taken into consideration before that happens. “It all comes down to demand. Do people really want that? There’s obviously a financial element in this, but are there further stories to tell about this family in this world?” Even when these elements are factored in, Swift feels optimistic that the potential for further stories is there. “I do think with the world that we have and the characters that we have, there is more to learn about how that world might expand for them. I would like to think that we’re ready for more Croods stories.”
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