The Call of the Wild (2020 film)

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The Call of the Wild
The Call of the Wild poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChris Sanders
Produced by
Screenplay byMichael Green
Based onThe Call of the Wild
by Jack London
Starring
Music byJohn Powell[1]
CinematographyJanusz Kamiński
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by20th Century Studios[3]
Release date
  • February 21, 2020 (2020-02-21) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes[4]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$125–150 million[5]
Box office$111 million[6][7]

The Call of the Wild is a 2020 American adventure film based on Jack London's 1903 novel of the same name. Directed by Chris Sanders, in his live-action directorial debut, and his first film without a co-director, the film was written by Michael Green, and stars Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens, Omar Sy, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford, and Colin Woodell. Set during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, the film follows a dog named Buck as he is stolen from his home in California and sent to the Yukon, where he befriends an old outdoorsman and begins a life-altering adventure.

The Call of the Wild was released in the United States on February 21, 2020, by 20th Century Studios. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised Ford's performance and the "entertaining action and earnest tone" but criticized the "uncanny" CGI of the animals.[8] It was a box-office bomb, grossing $110 million against a production budget of $125–150 million, and lost the studio an estimated $50–100 million.

Plot[edit]

During the late 19th century, Buck, a large, gentle St. Bernard/Scotch Collie, lives contentedly with his master, Judge Miller, in Santa Clara, California. One night, Buck is abducted and shipped to the Yukon aboard a freighter. During the voyage, a crew member beats him as a means of discipline. After arriving, Buck returns a dropped harmonica to a man named John Thornton, moments before being sold to Perrault and his assistant Francoise for their dog sled to deliver mail across the Yukon. Perrault hopes that with Buck, he can make the long trek to the mail depot before the deadline. Buck is introduced to the other dogs, including the vicious pack leader, a husky named Spitz.

Throughout their travels, Buck gains the loyalty and trust of Perrault, Francoise and the other sled dogs, after proving himself along the way and even rescuing Francoise, antagonizing Spitz. Buck begins experiencing ancestral spiritual visions of a black wolf that acts as his guide throughout their travels. One night, Buck catches then releases a rabbit. Spitz kills it before attacking Buck to assert his dominance. Spitz seems to win, until the rest of the pack encourage Buck. Buck pins Spitz down, displacing him as pack leader; Spitz then disappears into the wild. Perrault grudgingly makes Buck the lead when no other dog assumes the position. Buck's speed and strength allow the sled to arrive with the mail on time. There, Thornton hands over a letter he has written to his former wife expressing his feelings about their dead son. When Perrault returns, he learns the mail route is being replaced by the telegraph, forcing him to sell the dogs. Hal, a mean-spirited and inexperienced gold prospector, buys the pack and gradually works them to exhaustion carrying a heavy load in weather unsuitable for sledding.

The exhausted dogs stop to rest before Hal can force them to cross an unstable frozen lake. When Buck refuses to move, Hal threatens to shoot him. Thornton appears and rescues Buck while Hal forces the other sled dogs to cross the lake. Under Thornton's care, Buck recovers. Later, at a saloon, Thornton is attacked by Hal, who reveals the dogs managed to run off leaving him with nothing. Witnessing the scene, Buck attacks Hal who is subsequently thrown out. Buck and Thornton then travel beyond the Yukon map where they can freely live in the wild. They come across an abandoned cabin in an open valley and settle in. Meanwhile, Hal relentlessly hunts them, believing Thornton is hiding gold.

In the open wilderness, Thornton and Buck bond over their daily activities, primarily fishing and gold panning. Throughout their time together, Buck is drawn to a female white wolf. Going back and forth between Thornton and the white wolf, Buck is conflicted by his domesticated life with Thornton and his place with the wolf pack that the female belongs to. Thornton believes it is time to return home and tells Buck he is leaving in the morning, and to come and say good-bye. Buck heads into the forest and sleeps beside the white wolf, clearly conflicted. Hal subsequently finds and shoots Thornton. Buck returns and kills Hal by pushing him into the cabin, which has caught on fire. Thornton wants Buck to live for himself. He reassures him with his final words, "It's okay, boy. You're home."

The next morning, Buck returns to the wilderness. There, he mates and has offspring with the white wolf and becomes the pack leader, fully embracing the call of the wild.

Cast[edit]

  • Harrison Ford as John Thornton, an experienced frontiersman and Buck's fourth master
  • Omar Sy as Perrault, a French-Canadian mail runner and Buck's second master
  • Dan Stevens as Hal, Charles’ brother-in-law, Mercedes’ brother and Buck's third master who abuses him and his fellow dogs
  • Karen Gillan as Mercedes, Hal's spoiled sister and Charles’ wife.
  • Bradley Whitford as Judge Miller, Buck's first master who spoils him
  • Colin Woodell as Charles, Mercedes' cowardly husband and Hal's brother-in-law
  • Cara Gee as Françoise, Perrault's female companion and fellow mail runner
  • Scott MacDonald as Dawson
  • Abraham Benrubi as Skookum Bench King
  • Micah Fitzgerald as Red Sweater
  • Terry Notary stood in for the CGI-created Buck, whose model was scanned after an adopted dog.

Production[edit]

In October 2017, it was announced that 20th Century Fox was developing a new film adaptation of Jack London's 1903 novel The Call of the Wild, set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. The film was set to be directed by Chris Sanders from a script by Michael Green, and produced by Erwin Stoff.[9] In July 2018, Harrison Ford and Dan Stevens were cast in the film, with Ford starring as John Thornton, who goes on the search for gold.[10][11] In August 2018, Colin Woodell joined the cast.[12] In September, Omar Sy and Karen Gillan were added,[13][14] while Bradley Whitford came aboard in October,[15] and Cara Gee joined in November.[16]

Principal photography on the film began in late September 2018 in Los Angeles.[14] The film was not shot on location, as extensive use was made of CGI, with some scenes also being filmed on sets in Los Angeles and exteriors in Santa Clarita, California. All in all, the production spent $109 million filming in California, with the final budget reaching $125–150 million by the time post-production wrapped.[17][5] The visual effects were provided by Moving Picture Company (MPC), led by MPC's studio in Montreal, with Erik Nash serving as vfx supervisor,[18] and also by Soho VFX and Technoprops.[19] The production team used computer animation to create a realistic version of the dog 'Buck'.[20]

Music[edit]

The Call of the Wild
Film score by
Released21 February 2020 (2020-02-21)
Recorded2020
VenueNewman Scoring Stage
(Century City, California)
GenreFilm score
Length67:00
LabelHollywood
John Powell chronology
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
(2019)
The Call of the Wild
(2020)

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Album

In January 2019, it was announced that John Powell would compose the film's score. Powell previously collaborated with Sanders on the 2010 DreamWorks Animation film How to Train Your Dragon.[1]

Recording primarily took place in Los Angeles at the Newman Scoring Stage, with Powell conducting a 90-piece orchestra, as well as employing a 60-voice choir for the score. Joining him were regular composers Batu Sener and Paul Mounsey, who provided additional music. The soundtrack was released digitally on February 21, 2020, by Hollywood Records.[21]

All music was composed and conducted by John Powell.[22]

The Call of the Wild (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
No.TitleLength
1."Wake the Girls"2:37
2."Train North"4:01
3."Skagway, Alaska"2:30
4."Snowy Climb"1:24
5."First Sledding Attempt"2:27
6."The Ghost Wolf of Dreams"1:05
7."Joining the Team"2:58
8."Ice Rescue"2:26
9."Sometimes Nature's Cruel and Gods Fight"4:57
10."Buck Takes the Lead"4:54
11."We Carry Love"3:01
12."Couldn't Find the Words"2:21
13."Overpacked Sled"2:31
14."Newfangled Telegram"2:23
15."In My Bed?"2:53
16."Buck & Thornton's Big Adventure"4:35
17."Finding Bears and Love in the Woods"2:56
18."They've all Gone"2:51
19."Rewilding"3:47
20."Animal Nature"2:34
21."Come Say Goodbye"2:08
22."What An Adventure"3:01
23."The Call of the Wild"2:51
Total length:1:07:11

Piano Solos Album In October, 2020, John Powell announced on his Instagram account that he's releasing "Piano Solos from The Call of the Wild."[23] The album features ten tracks from John Powell's original score that were newly arranged and are performed by Batu Sener, who provided additional music to The Call of the Wild and collaborated with Powell on numerous other scores. The arrangements from this album are printed and distributed by Hal Leonard Publishing Company. The album was released by 5 Cat Studios, which is the record label owned by John Powell. This is the second 'piano solos' album from John Powell and Batu Sener, first one being "Piano Solos from How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World" released in May 2020.

Piano Solos from The Call of the Wild
No.TitleLength
1."Wake the Girls"3:04
2."Snowy Climb"1:28
3."Joining the Team"2:56
4."Buck Takes the Lead"2:25
5."We Carry Love"3:24
6."Couldn't Find the Words"2:28
7."Newfangled Telegram"2:41
8."They're All Gone"1:22
9."What an Adventure"4:57
10."The Call of the Wild"2:53
Total length:27:38

Release[edit]

The film was originally set to be released on December 25, 2019, but was pushed back to February 21, 2020, following the acquisition of Fox by Disney, to accommodate the December releases of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Spies in Disguise.[24] The Call of the Wild was also the first film released by 20th Century Studios, following its rebranding from 20th Century Fox by its parent Walt Disney Studios division.[25] Coincidentally, the 1935 adaptation of the novel was the last film released under the Twentieth Century Pictures name before it merged with Fox Film to form 20th Century Fox.[26] The film will be released in China, on November 13, 2020.[27]

The Call of The Wild was released digitally on the night of March 27, 2020. The announcement followed Disney's earlier-than-planned releases of Frozen II and Onward on digital, due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in the closing of most theatres around the world.[28] The film was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray on May 12, 2020 by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment under the in-name only unit 20th Century Studios Home Entertainment.[29]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The Call of the Wild grossed $62.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $48.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $110.8 million.[6][7] Its high production and marketing costs mean the film needed to gross $250–275 million in order to break even; various publications estimate it will lose the studio between $50–100 million.[30][31]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Brahms: The Boy II, and was projected to gross $15–20 million from 3,752 theaters in its opening weekend.[5][8] The film made $8 million on its first day, including $1 million from Thursday night previews. It went on to overperform, debuting to $24.8 million and finishing second, behind holdover Sonic the Hedgehog; however, Deadline Hollywood wrote that "despite the over-indexing of Call of the Wild stateside, it's a hollow victory, given how much the film cost".[30] The film made $13.2 million in its second weekend and $7 million on its third weekend, respectively finishing third and fifth.[32][33]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 62% based on 196 reviews, with an average rating of 6.02/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "It's undermined by distracting and unnecessary CGI, but this heartwarming Call of the Wild remains a classic story, affectionately retold."[34] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[35] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, and PostTrak reported it received an average 4 out of 5 stars, with 59% of people surveyed saying they would definitely recommend it.[30]

Owen Gleiberman of Variety praised Harrison Ford's performance, saying that he "acts with pure soul here (he also narrates the film with his lovely storybook growl); it's a minimalist performance, mostly very reactive, but the saintly gruffness of Ford’s thick-gray-bearded, sad-eyed presence helps to nudge Buck to life as a character."[36]

Common Sense Media rated the movie 4 out of 5 stars, stating : "Parents need to know that The Call of the Wild is a family-friendly adaptation of Jack London's classic novel. Starring Harrison Ford, it's a simpler, somewhat sanitized take on the book -- which makes it more appropriate for younger viewers -- but the themes and messages of London's story are still as crisp as a Yukon sunrise.".[37]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipients Result Ref.
2019 DiscussingFilm Critics Awards Best Visual Effects The Call of the Wild Won [38][39]
2020 World Soundtrack Awards Public Choice John Powell Nominated [40][41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "John Powell to Score Chris Sanders' 'Call of the Wild' | Film Music Reporter". Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  2. ^ "Erwin Stoff Photos Photos: World Premiere For 20th Century Studios' "The Call of the Wild"". Zimbio. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Scheck, Frank (September 4, 2020). "'The Call of the Wild': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  4. ^ "The Call of the Wild". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Pamela McClintock (February 20, 2020). "Box Office Preview: 'Sonic the Hedgehog' to Leave 'Call of the Wild' Out in the Cold". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "The Call of the Wild (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "The Call of the Wild (2020)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Jeremy Fuster (February 18, 2020). "Harrison Ford's 'The Call of the Wild' Faces Off Against 'Sonic' at This Weekend's Box Office". TheWrap. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  9. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 12, 2017). "'Gambit' Starring Channing Tatum Will Open Valentine's Day 2019". Deadline. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  10. ^ Lang, Brent (July 16, 2018). "Harrison Ford Eyes 'Call of the Wild' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  11. ^ Lang, Brent (July 24, 2018). "Dan Stevens Joins Harrison Ford in 'Call of the Wild' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 30, 2018). "Harrison Ford's 'Call of the Wild' Adds Colin Woodell (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  13. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 13, 2018). "Harrison Ford's 'Call of the Wild' Casts Omar Sy (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Hipes, Patrick (September 26, 2018). "Karen Gillan Joins "Call Of The Wild" Movie At Fox". Deadline. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  15. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (October 5, 2018). "Bradley Whitford Returns To 'Handmaid's Tale' As Series Regular, Books 2 Movies".
  16. ^ Galuppo, Mia (November 7, 2018). "'Expanse' Actress Cara Gee Joins 'Call of the Wild' at Fox". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  17. ^ Film and Television Tax Credit Program Program 2.0 (PDF) (Report). California Film Commission. November 2018. p. 20. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  18. ^ "THE CALL OF THE WILD". The Art of VFX. January 28, 2020. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Call of the Wild (2020)". IMDb. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  20. ^ "'The Call Of The Wild' Is Let Down By Its Animation, Say Critics". Cartoon Brew. February 21, 2020. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  21. ^ Film Music Reporter. "The Call of the Wild Soundtrack Details". filmmusicreporter.com.
  22. ^ "Tracklist from John Powell". Instagram.
  23. ^ "John Powell: Instagram Announcement "Piano Solos from The Call of the Wild"". Instagram. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  24. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 7, 2019). "Disney-Fox Updates Release Schedule: Sets Three Untitled 'Star Wars' Movies, 'New Mutants' Heads To 2020, 'Ad Astra' To Open Fall & More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  25. ^ Vary, Adam (January 17, 2020). "Disney Drops Fox Name, Will Rebrand as 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures". Variety. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  26. ^ Watson, R. T. "Disney Drops 'Fox' From Twentieth Century Movie Studio Name". WSJ. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  27. ^ Davis, Rebecca (November 10, 2020). "'The Invisible Man', 'Call of the Wild', 'The Aeronauts' to Hit Chinese Cinemas, Bringing New Chance at Box Office Returns". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  28. ^ Gaius Bolling (March 26, 2020). "The Call of the Wild and Downhill get early digital releases". www.joblo.com. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  29. ^ "The Call of the Wild". 20th Century Studios.
  30. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 23, 2020). "'Hedgehog' Bites Back At 'Wild' Dog As 'Sonic' Speeds To No. 1 With $26M+; $203M+ WW – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  31. ^ Rebecca Rubin (March 1, 2020). "Harrison Ford's 'Call of the Wild' to Lose $50 Million at Box Office". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  32. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 1, 2020). "'The Invisible Man' Sighting At B.O. Swells To $29M – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  33. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 8, 2020). "'Onward' Seeing Blasé $40M Domestic Opening, $68M WW: Are Coronavirus Fears Impacting B.O.? – Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  34. ^ "The Call of the Wild (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  35. ^ "The Call of the Wild Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  36. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (February 17, 2020). "Harrison Ford in 'The Call of the Wild': Film Review". Variety. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  37. ^ "The Call of the Wild - Movie Review". www.commonsensemedia.org. 2020-01-21. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  38. ^ @DiscussingFilm [@DiscussingFilm] (7 February 2015). "The 2020 Spring DiscussingFilm Critics Awards BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: 'Call of the Wild'" (Tweet) – via Twitter. |date= mismatches calculated date from |number= by two or more days (help)
  39. ^ "DiscussingFilm Critics Awards (2019)". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  40. ^ Awards, World Soundtrack. "Public Choice Award - Awards". World Soundtrack Awards. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  41. ^ "World Soundtrack Awards (2020)". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-11-25.

External links[edit]