CATEGORIES Documentary, Independent, Paramount Classics, Family Films, Cinematical Indie, CinematicalWhen an innocuous-sounding nature movie called March of the Penguins smashed box office records two years ago -- to the tune of $77 million in the US -- you better believe Hollywood was paying attention. Distributor Paramount Classics was quick to snap up rights to another documentary about polar creatures in early November 2005. Call of the North was not some hurried project put together to capitalize on the success of Penguins, though. Filmmakers Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson had worked together on at least two Arctic-themed episodes of the long-running series Nature earlier in the decade. David Poland reported that they had been working on the film, shooting on location and thus often enduring sub-zero temperatures, for seven years. He also passed along the news that the film was "due out in mid or late '06."
Somewhere between then and now, the title changed to Arctic Tale (at one point it was The Walrus and the Polar Bear) and acquired narration spoken by Queen Latifah and written by Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast), Mose Richards and Kristin Gore (Futurama and daughter of the former US Vice President). From a look at the web site, it's being marketed as a cute yet environmentally-sensitive movie for kids; for adults, the advertising mentions the film as coming from "the studio that brought you An Inconvenient Truth." Certainly it's the distributor's goal to get as many people as possible to see it. I just wonder if any of the harsh realities of the animal kingdom were softened for the sake of trying to replicate the success of Penguins, and if the result fully reflects what the filmmakers set out to make so many years ago. For now, you can watch the trailer at Moviefone and decide if you agree with The Documentary Blog, where Jay Cheel comments: "I don't mean to sound like an a******, but this trailer is s***." Paramount Classics has set a release date of July 25.