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We noticed the following article in the Wall Street Journal about the recent popularity of penguins in the Hollywood movie industry and couldn't help but wonder if these Antarctic birds might find their way into some trendy costume jewelry designs.
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Here is the article from the Wall Street Journal
IN HOLLYWOOD, IT’S PENGUIN SEASON
By John Lippman, 7/29/05
Studios Find a New Star As Bird Films Take Flight; A Documentary Surprise
Hollywood is in the midst of its most disappointing summer movie season in memory. But there is some cold comfort for studio executives: Penguins.
struggle and the cycle of life-amid a community of flightless birds in Antarctica. "March of the Penguins," distributed by Warner Independent Pictures, has already taken in more than $10 million at the U.S. box office, and it hasn’t yet been widely released. It is one of the few films so far this year to generate serious Oscar buzz.
Penguins also make an appearance in at least four current and upcoming animated movies. DreamWorks’ "Madagascar" didn’t perform as well as the studio had hoped-it brought in a solid $186 million-but its Beatle-esque bird characters proved so popular in test screenings that the studio ended up boosting their role in the final cut. DreamWorks says the upcoming "Madagascar" DVD will include a separate 10-minute short starring the penguins.
In addition, three big studios-Warner Bros., Sony Pictures and Disney-all have penguin projects in the works. "They feel a lot like an adorable version of humans," says Mark Gill, president of Warner Independent Pictures. The studio’s parent, Warner Bros., is planning a November 2006 release for its animated movie "Happy Feet," in which an Emperor penguin who can’t sing like the other penguins becomes a champion tap dancer instead. Warner Bros. says Nicole Kidman and Robin Williams have signed on to provide voices.
Dick Van Dyke, who arguably gave the penguins their first big break in movies with the tea-and-dance with penguins scene in 1964’s "Mary Poppins," is not surprised at how they have become hot in Hollywood. "Almost every kid I’ve ever talked to says they liked the ‘It’s a Jolly Holiday’ scene above everything else," says Mr. Van Dyke. "It’s their personality. They are exactly like people."
Meanwhile, Disney has its own project in development, an animated movie based on "Mr. Popper’s Penguins," a 60-year-old children’s book about a housepainter who ends up managing a troupe of performing birds. Elena Tropp, one of the writers, describes it as "a Ben Affleck romantic comedy, except with penguins."
It’s not the first time Hollywood has produced look-alike animated movies in waves: The insect movies "Antz" and "A Bug’s Life" both appeared in 1998, and the aquatic feature "A Shark’s Tale" came out one year after "Finding Nemo." But Jeff Robinov, head of production at Warner Bros., says there’s no danger of viewers "getting penguined-out" because the movies are dissimilar.
"March of the Penguins" has been a surprise success. The documentary, which cost $7 million to produce, was made by a French filmmaking team that spent 13 months in the Antarctic recording penguins’ intricate courtship, mating and family-raising behaviors. Warner Independent Pictures acquired North American distribution rights (jointly with National Geographic Feature Films) at the Sundance Film Festival this year for $1 million.
The French version featured dubbed voices for the penguins, along with a techno-pop soundtrack. Warner Bros. and National Geographic dropped the talking penguins and spent an extra $600,000 to write a new musical score and a script narrated by Morgan Freeman. The movie’s title "The March of the Emperor"-was also changed. "It sounded to us like some medieval epic," Mr. Gill says.
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