Director George Miller wasn't looking to make back-to-back cartoons about the environmentally fragile residents of Antarctica. But Mother Nature can be a wicked executive producer, Miller has learned.
"I was all set to do another `Mad Max’ in Australia," he says. "And it kept raining. And raining. And raining. After about 12 months, we decided to do `Happy Feet 2’ instead."
Miller, a chameleon director whose credits include the `Mad Max’ series, the `Babe’ franchise and now the `Happy Feet’ story, says he plans to return to the post-apocalyptic world of `Mad Max’ when he's done with the pre-apocalyptic world of `Happy Feet 2’ in 3-D.
The movie, starring the voices of Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Robin Williams and Elijah Wood as rug-cutter Mumble, centers on Mumble being a new father while still navigating the perilous ice world around him, which is melting frighteningly fast. "Climate change is why we're doing this movie now," Miller says. "The desert we wanted to shoot in in Australia? It's covered in flowers."
The first film, a 2006 surprise hit at $190 million, was initially to be shot in 3-D, Miller says. "But we simply ran out of time. This one is shot in 3-D, and the landscapes we could create are just spectacular."
Where the first film followed Mumble "from infancy to adulthood, now we see him as a parent," Miller says. "But it could be any of us. He's trying to figure out how to be a parent to his little son in a world that's changing way too rapidly."
Miller says he enjoys animation. But the director of `Dead Calm’ and `Lorenzo's Oil’ also looks forward to destruction. He's built more than 150 cars that he plans to destroy for `Mad Max: Fury Road,’ the continuation of his dystopian hellscape, this time starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. It's scheduled for a 2012 release.
But there's one benefit to making kids' movies that you just don't get from carving people up on highways, Miller says. "One of my favorite things about making `Happy Feet’ was sneaking into the theater to watch the kids," he says. "I can see the parents are getting the other messages, but the kids are just lost in the dancing and the little animals. They'll dance in the aisles. What filmmaker doesn't dream to see that kind of thing?"
Opening soon across the Philippines in IMAX 3D, 2D and regular theaters, “Happy Feet 2” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.