I still don't understand the success of March of the Penguins. I don't understand the film's popularity, and I really don't understand how it beat Murderball for the documentary Oscar. I do understand its influence, though. Yes, Happy Feet was coincidentally in production before the release of the penguin doc, but as far as the public knows, the animated movie is coming on the heels of March, and it should be of help to Warner Bros. that kids might be hungry for more penguins (not literally, of course). Earlier this month, the New York Times featured an article on the penguin craze and mentioned other related movies coming out in the near and distant future, including Surf's Up, a Madagascarsequel and a long-in-the-works Opus picture. Of course, there's also Bob Saget'sMarch parody, Farce of the Penguins, which heads straight-to-DVD in January.

But what about the nature documentary? What influence has March of the Penguins had on its genre as opposed to its subject? Obviously, Hollywood isn't so keen on celebrating the medium, especially when that medium is one typically associated with the Discovery Channel and other cable outlets more than with theatrical box office gold. Sure, before March of the Penguins there was Winged Migration, another doc about birds that grossed about $11 million domestically, but compared to March's $77 million domestic earnings, that can easily be forgotten in studio execs' memories.
Walt Disney Pictures, which had a foreign connection to March, is now thinking more about the next bird thing. Eventually the kids will be tired of the penguin craze, and so in 2008, the studio is hoping that flamingos will be in vogue. Variety has announced that nature filmmakers Matthew Aeberhard and Leander Ward will be spending the next 50 weeks or so documenting the life cycle of flamingos in Northern Tanzania. The result, currently titled Dreamscape (expect that to change to Flight of the Flamingos or something else more literal), is scheduled for release in early 2008. Though Disney is involved through Buena Vista Intl, France, just as they were with March, the previous film was actually distributed here by Warner Independent Pictures, so I'm not sure if they'll handle it themselves this time around. If the studio is hoping to follow the success of the penguins, though, and claim pink is the new black (and white), they'll want to keep this one in house.

Aeberhard was quoted as saying he wants, "to target a younger, hipper audience than wildlife films generally attract." Could this mean marketing toward teens rather than tykes? Perhaps he's afraid that middle American parents won't want to expose their children to an animal associated with homosexuality (yes, literally).
categories Cinematical