×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Ice’ adds roles, shakes well

'Continental Drift' creates backstory for new characters

Addition by subtraction is a well-known concept. But in the world of tentpole sequels, studios run the risk of subtraction by addition.

For every new character introduced in a franchise that hits, like “Shrek’s” Puss in Boots, there’s one that doesn’t, like “Star Wars’?” Jar Jar Binks.

Scribe Michael Berg, who has played a key role in every installment of Fox’s $2 billion “Ice Age” franchise, including this month’s “Continental Drift,” says new sidekicks, cohorts and love interests are essential to breathing fresh life into a world that audiences have already seen before. But the proposition is rife with danger.

“Adding a character is a delicate balance,” explains Berg, who wrote three new roles for “Continental Drift” and took a fourth from infancy to articulation. “If the writing and voice-performance work well with the original characters, the chemistry feels right, and it will seem like the character was part of the franchise from the beginning. Jessie in ‘Toy Story 2’ is a terrific example. Make a mistake, though, and the character feels like a gimmick.”

In the best-case scenario, a character works so well that it can launch its own new series, as was the case with the Antonio Banderas-voiced Puss in Boots, who emerged from the “Shrek” franchise to topline the DreamWorks Animation prequel. Bowing in October 2011, “Puss” earned $555 million worldwide and nabbed an Oscar nomination for animated feature. Similarly, Jessie has been rumored as the “Toy Story” character being poised for spinoff treatment.

Of course spinoffs only have an opportunity to go forth and multiply if the film they were in was a success. “Cars 2” introduced two new characters, master British super-spy Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) and alluring spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), but it’s unlikely either will return for another lap. The sequel was widely panned, earning an un-Pixar-like 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

For “Continental Drift,” Berg found that the best way to work in the new characters — voiced by Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lopez, Drake and Nicki Minaj — was to create a physical divide between returnees and the newbies.

“When I broke (down) the story with producer (Lori Forte), we talked how great it would be to spend time with our original gang of heroes without having to serve all the other characters, so we folded the newer ones into a ‘B’ story,” he says. “Fortunately, the idea of breaking our heroes off on a sheet of ice made sense physically. (After all), that does happen in the Arctic.”

More Film

  • Cannes: Star Alliance Movies Takes Wide’s

    Cannes: Star Alliance Movies Takes Wide’s ‘Blast’ for China (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES  —  Hong Kong’s Star Alliance Movies has pounced on all rights to China on “Blast,” a race against the clock thriller that marks the first full production from Wide, Loic Magneron’s Paris-based sales-production-distribution company. The deal, made against a background of slowing sales to China, represents the first pre-sale on “Blast,” which is now [...]

  • Brazil’s Cinemascopio, France’s Les Valseurs Team

    Brazil’s Cinemascopio, France’s Les Valseurs Team For Nara Normande, Tião’s ‘The Heron’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES — Recife-based CinemaScópio Produções and Paris’ Les Valseurs have teamed on “A Garça” (The Heron), the feature debut from Brazil’s Nara Normande, co-authored by Tião. Brazilian CinemaScópio is behind Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles’ Brazilian Western-thriller “Bacurau,” in competition at Cannes. Les Valseurs is also presenting Qiu Yang’s short “She Runs” at Critics’ [...]

  • Portrait of a Young Woman on

    Cannes Film Review: 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

    The title of Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” implies that her subversively seductive film will focus on the subject of its titular painting — an 18th-century woman who refuses to pose, in defiance of the arranged marriage into which she’s being forced — when it’s just as much a portrait of the [...]

  • Colin Firth

    Cannes: Colin Firth WWII Drama 'Operation Mincemeat' Sells Out Internationally (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Operation Mincemeat,” a buzzy World War II drama that stars Colin Firth, has sold out international territories at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Warner Bros. has picked up several key markets, as has Central and Eastern European distributor Prorom. The film reunites Firth with John Madden, his “Shakespeare in Love” director. FilmNation Entertainment and Cross [...]

  • Meikincine Scoops Three Titles at Cannes

    Meikincine Scoops Three More Titles at Cannes Film Market (EXCLUSIVE)

    Lucia and Julia Meik’s boutique sales company Meikincine has announced three acquisitions out of this year’s Cannes Film Market: Gaspar Scheuer’s “Delfin”- which world premiered in the Cannes Écrans Juniors Competition; Marcelo Paez Cubells’ “Which”– part of this year’s Blood Window Showcase for films in progress; Sebastián Mega Díaz’s romantic comedy “The Big Love Picture.” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content