Forty-eight hours after it was announced that Hasbro ended conversations with DreamWorks Animation about a possible merger, Jeffrey Katzenberg was at Bryant Park’s skating rink to celebrate the “Penguins of Madagascar” premiere.
The Sunday afternoon event featured hot chocolate, hot dogs and life size penguins on skates who entertained a gaggle of kids and their parents, including George Stephanopoulos, Mariska Hargitay and Brooke Shields.
Pic, about four penguins who join forces with undercover organization The North Wind to stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine (voiced by John Malkovich) from destroying the world, marks the fourth film in the “Madagascar” franchise.
In addition to Malkovich, directors Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith cast Benedict Cumberbatch, who won the acting trophy for “The Imitation Game” at Friday’s Hollywood Film Awards.
“John and Benedict just didn’t do voice recordings for this film,” Darnell said before hitting the ice. “They act out the scene; they’re very theater-based in that way.”
As for convincing Malkovich to do his inaugural animated film, Smith said it wasn’t very hard.
“I went to his house in the South of France,” helmer said. “I took my iPad movie and showed him some art and he fell in love with it. He said, ‘Yes. I’d love to be an evil octopus.’”
Malkovich called the proposal “very amusing.”
“I thought the idea of playing an octopus was pretty perfect all in all,” he said.
As for why he has never been a part of an animated project, Malkovich said it probably had something to do with his “distinctive” voice. But as for being asked to play yet another villain, he chalked it up to taste.
“People like to see me be bad. There is so much I can do about that. When I play a magician no one cares.”
As for the decision to push the film’s release date up by four months from March 27, 2015 to Nov. 26, helmers said it initially caused a major rush, but in the end they considered it a “blessing.”
(Pictured: Eric Darnell, Ken Jeong, John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch and Simon Smith at the New York screening of “Penguins of Madagascar”)