James and the Giant Peach (film)

James and the Giant Peach is a 1996 musical fantasy film directed by Henry Selick, based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl.[3] It was produced by Tim Burton and Denise Di Novi, and starred Paul Terry as James. The film is a combination of live action and stop-motion animation. Co-stars Joanna Lumley and Miriam Margolyes played James's aunts in the live-action segments, and Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Jane Leeves, David Thewlis, and Margolyes voiced his insect friends in the animation sequences.

James and the Giant Peach
James and the giant peach.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHenry Selick
Screenplay byKarey Kirkpatrick
Jonathan Roberts
Steve Bloom
Based onJames and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl
Produced byDenise Di Novi
Tim Burton
Starring
CinematographyPete Kozachik
Hiro Narita
Edited byStan Webb
Music byRandy Newman
Production
companies
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures (Global)
Guild Film Distribution[1] (United Kingdom)
Release date
  • April 12, 1996 (1996-04-12) (United States)
  • August 2, 1996 (1996-08-02) (United Kingdom)
Running time
79 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$38 million
Box office$37.7 million[2]

Plot

In the summer 1958, James Henry Trotter is a young orphan living with his sadistic and domineering aunts Spiker and Sponge. One day, after rescuing a spider from his hysterical aunts, James obtains magical "crocodile tongues" from a mysterious old man, which grows a colossal peach on nearby old peach tree that Spiker and Sponge exploit as a tourist attraction. At night, James eats through the peach to find a pit with several human-sized anthropomorphic insects: Mr. Grasshopper, Mr. Centipede, Ms. Spider (who was actually the spider he saved from Spiker and Sponge), Mr. Earthworm, Mrs. Ladybug, and Mrs. Glowworm. As they hear Spiker and Sponge searching for James, Centipede cuts the stem connecting the peach to the tree and the peach rolls away to the Atlantic Ocean.

The insects drive on the peach to New York City, as James has dreamed of visiting the Empire State Building like his parents wanted to. Obstacles include a giant mechanical shark and undead skeletal pirates in icy water of the Artic. When the group arrive, they are suddenly attacked by the tempestuous form of the rhinoceros that killed James's parents. James, though frightened, gets his friends to safety and confronts the rhino before it strikes the peach with lightning. James and the peach fall to the city below, landing on top of the Empire State Building. After he is rescued by firefighters, Spiker and Sponge arrive and attempt to claim James and the peach. James tells the crowd of his fantastical adventure and exposes his aunts' mistreatment. Enraged at James's betrayal, Spiker and Sponge attempt to hack James with stolen fire axes, but are stopped by the insects and arrested by the police.

James introduces his friends to the New Yorkers and allows the children to eat up the peach. The peach pit is made into a cottage in Central Park, where James lives happily with the bugs, who form his new family and also find success and fame in the city. Mr. Centipede runs for New York mayor and is now James’ father, Miss Spider opens a club and is now his mother, Mr. Earthworm becomes a mascot for a skin-care company and is now James' uncle, Mrs. Ladybug becomes an obstetrician and is James' aunt, Mr. Grasshopper becomes a concert violinist and is now James' grandfather, and Mrs. Glowworm becomes the light in the torch of the Statue of Liberty and is now his grandmother. James celebrates his ninth birthday with his new family and friends.

Cast

Voices

Production

At Walt Disney Animation Studios in the early 1980s, Joe Ranft tried to convince the staff to produce a film based on Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach (1996), a book that enamored him with its "liberating" material ever since he first read it in third grade.[4] However, Disney refused for reasons of a potentially expensive and difficult animation process and the source material's weird subject matter.[4] Among the animators exposed to the book by Ranft was Henry Selick; while he enjoyed the book and thought about adapting it to screen for several years, he understood the obstacles doing so, such as the source material's dreamy nature, episodic structure, and the reputation of other Dahl books being so agitational some parts of the world banned them.[4]

Felicity Dahl, Roald's son and executor of his estate, began offering film rights to the book in the summer in 1992; among those interested included Steven Spielberg and Danny DeVito.[5][6]

Walt Disney Pictures acquired the film rights to the book from the Dahl estate in 1992.[7] Brian Rosen was hired as producer by Disney for his experience in animated projects like FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992) and live-action films such as Mushrooms (1995).[8]

Dennis Potter was hired to write a draft. Rosen descripted it as "slightly black and bizarre", a tone Disney didn't approve of, particularly with the sharks being Nazis. Once Potter died, Karey Kirkpatrick and Bruce Joel Rubin came in to write separate drafts, of which Kirkpatrick's was chosen.[8] Unlike the novel, James's aunts are not killed by the rolling peach (though his parents' deaths occur as in the novel) but follow him to New York.[9] The character Silkworm was removed to not overload on the amount of characters to animate; in the book, his purpose was limited to what Miss Spider did in the film, which was to attach the peach to several seagulls during the shark chase.[10]

Before the start of production, Disney and Selick debated on whether the film should be live-action or stop-motion-animated, the company skeptical of the stop-motion solution.[8] Selick had originally planned James to be a real actor through the entire film, then later considered doing the whole film in stop motion; but ultimately settled on entirely live-action and entirely stop-motion sequences, to keep lower costs.[11] The film begins with 20 minutes of normal live action,[9] but becomes stop-motion animation after James enters the peach, and then live action when James enters New York City (although the arthropod characters remained in stop motion).[11] Like The Wizard of Oz (1939), the color palette changes when James enters the Peach to indicate he's entered a magical setting, from greys and greens to vibrant colors.[8]

Songs

All tracks are written by Randy Newman.

No.TitlePerformer(s)Length
1."My Name Is James"Paul Terry 
2."That's the Life For Me"Jeff Bennett, Susan Sarandon, Jane Leeves, Miriam Margolyes, Simon Callow & David Thewlis 
3."Eating the Peach"Jeff Bennett, Susan Sarandon, Jane Leeves, Miriam Margolyes, Simon Callow, David Thewlis & Paul Terry 
4."Family"Jeff Bennett, Susan Sarandon, Jane Leeves, Miriam Margolyes, Simon Callow, David Thewlis & Paul Terry 
5."Good News"Randy Newman 

Release

The film was theatrically released on April 12, 1996.

Disney released the film worldwide except for a few countries in Europe including the United Kingdom, where Pathé (the owner of co-producer Allied Filmmakers) handled distribution and sold the rights to independent companies. The only countries where Disney doesn't have control over the movie are the United Kingdom and Germany, where the film was released by Guild Film Distribution and Tobis Film respectively.

Box office

The film opened at the number 2 spot at the box office, missing out on the top spot to Primal Fear.[12] The film took in $7,539,098 that weekend,[13] and stayed in the top 10 for the next 5 weeks before dropping to 11th place.[14] The film went on to gross over $28,946,127 domestically bringing its worldwide total to $28,946,127,[15][16] which against a budget of $38 million, made the film commercially a box office bomb.

Home media

The film was released on VHS on October 15, 1996. A digitally restored Blu-ray/DVD combo pack was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on August 3, 2010 in the United States.[17]

Reception

Though Roald Dahl refused numerous offers to have a film version of James and the Giant Peach produced during his lifetime, his widow, Liccy, approved an offer to have a live-action version produced. She thinks Roald "would have been delighted with what they did with James. It is a wonderful film."[18]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 91% based on reviews from 74 critics, with an average score of 7.16/10. The website's critical consensus states: "The arresting and dynamic visuals, offbeat details and light-as-air storytelling make James and the Giant Peach solid family entertainment".[19]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a positive review, praising the animated part, but calling the live-action segments "crude."[20] Writing in The New York Times, Janet Maslin called the film "a technological marvel, arch and innovative with a daringly offbeat visual conception" and "a strenuously artful film with a macabre edge."[21]

The film grossed $28.9 million in the United States and Canada and $8.8 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $37.7 million.[22][2]

Awards and nominations

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score, by Randy Newman. It won Best Animated Feature Film at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1996 Annie Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Best Individual Achievement: Directing Henry Selick Nominated
Best Individual Achievement: Music Randy Newman Nominated
Best Individual Achievement: Producing Tim Burton
Denise Di Novi
Nominated
Best Individual Achievement: Storyboarding Joe Ranft Nominated
Best Individual Achievement: Voice Acting Richard Dreyfuss Nominated
Best Individual Achievement: Writing Karey Kirkpatrick
Jonathan Roberts
Steve Bloom
Nominated
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Film Won
1997 Academy Awards Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score Randy Newman Nominated
Annecy International Animated Film Festival Best Animated Feature Film Henry Selick Won [23]
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Original Score Randy Newman Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Best Animated Film Won
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media Tim Burton
Denise Di Novi
Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Film Nominated
Young Artist Awards Best Family Feature – Animation or Special Effects Won
Best Performance in a Voiceover – Young Artist Paul Terry Nominated

References

Citations

  1. ^ http://www.bbfc.co.uk/releases/james-and-giant-peach-film
  2. ^ a b "Top 100 worldwide b.o. champs". Variety. January 20, 1997. p. 14.
  3. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. pp. 185–186. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  4. ^ a b c French 1996b, p. 25.
  5. ^ Thompson, Anne (April 26, 1996). "Behind the scenes of 'James and the Giant Peach'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  6. ^ French 1996b, p. 27.
  7. ^ Setoodah, Ramin (July 29, 2016). "From 'The BFG' to 'Matilda': How 5 Roald Dahl Books Landed on the Big Screen". Variety. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d French 1996a, p. 7.
  9. ^ a b Nichols, Peter M. (2003). The New York Times Essential Library: Children's Movies. New York: Henry Holt and Company. pp. 134–136. ISBN 0-8050-7198-9.
  10. ^ French 1996a, p. 61.
  11. ^ a b Evans, Noah Wolfgram. "Layers: A Look at Henry Selick". Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  12. ^ "Primal Fear".
  13. ^ "James and the Giant Peach".
  14. ^ "James and the Giant Peach".
  15. ^ "James and the Giant Peach".
  16. ^ "James and the Giant Peach (1996) - Financial Information".
  17. ^ Foster, Dave (May 19, 2010). "James and the Giant Peach (US BD) in August". The Digital Fix. Archived from the original on May 20, 2010. Retrieved June 27, 2010.
  18. ^ Roberts, Chloe; Darren Horne. "Roald Dahl: From Page to Screen". close-upfilm.com. Archived from the original on February 4, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
  19. ^ "James and the Giant Peach". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  20. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (April 19, 1996). "James and the Giant Peach (1996) review". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 23, 2009. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
  21. ^ Maslin review
  22. ^ "James and the Giant Peach". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  23. ^ Annecy

Bibliography

External links