I recently had a chance to visit the luxurious InterContinental Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio and meet with one of the producers of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. And yes, there is a luxurious hotel in Ohio. Mireille Soria has produced Madagascar, its sequel, and the hilarious DVD short The Madagascar Penguins in: A Christmas Caper. She is actually a native of the Cleveland area, so we had a nice chat about the film and the differences between the Midwest and California.
I admitted to Mireille that I wasn’t a huge fan of the first film, and was wondering why (other than the financial success of Madagascar) the need for a sequel. She pointed out that they were already thinking sequel while in production of the first film. “When seeing the reaction to the characters, and the laughter…We were really hopeful that we would have the opportunity to do a couple things. One, explore the relationships more and then do things that we hadn’t done on the first movie. Then when it came out, with a positive response, we thought it warranted a sequel.”
Easily one of my favorite aspects of the two films were the Penguins. I had to know if Dreamworks had anything lined up specifically for the Penguins. “After the release of the first movie, we started working on a script. Then what happened was that Nickelodeon expressed interest in a series on the Penguins. We have been consulting on that, and that series is going to come out in, I think, March.” I am not creepy enough to still watch Nickelodeon, but I do really like the Penguins.
Another thing I was curious about personally, was if the film was ever considered for the 3-D treatment. Back in July, I had a chance to visit Dreamworks and listen to Jeffrey Katzenberg try and sell me on how 3-D is the future. So since Dreamworks man in charge is so crazy about 3-D, then why isn’t Madagascar getting the 3-D presentation? “There was a moment and we were in a meeting and Jeffrey said ‘So what do you think? Should we do this 3-D?’, and we said no. Only because we just didn’t have the time. It took three and a half years, and we felt it was important to not exceed that time for a sequel.” No problem though, the film might not be three dimensional…but it will be in IMAX.
Mireille is the self proclaimed “Queen of Sports Movies.” While she spent some time at Disney, she oversaw production of The Mighty Ducks films, and Cool Runnings. I had to tell her how much I loved those movies, and ask her a very serious question. I knew that this is something that haunts everyone, including myself. So I asked her point blank who would win 1 on 1 in a full game between the coach of team USA Gordon Bombay and the coach of team Iceland Wolf Stansson. After recovering from laughter, she confidently said “Gordon Bombay, of course.” That’s an easy call to make on a clean game, but I’m not sold if they are playing dirty.
I had one big question for Mireille, and that would be why should we go out and see the film…especially if you are like me and didn’t like the first. “The characters are better, there’s more depth and warmth. But mostly, we want you to laugh.” Her best argument came with this statement though – “Since we are opening November 7, after the election, one way or the other you will either be celebrating or we will have to find something to laugh about.”