ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE – Behind the Scenes Look

Over the years, the ICE AGE films have earned their place as the second biggest animated franchise in the world (SHREK being number one).  With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Blue Sky Studios and Twentieth Century Fox have chosen to continue the series with their fifth entry ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE.  Eager to get the word out regarding the film, members of the creative team, including producer Lori Forte and cast members Ray Romano (Manny), Queen Latifa (Ellie), John Leguizamo (Sid), Wanda Sykes (Granny), Josh Peck (Eddie) and Max Greenfield (Roger) recently got together with the press to discuss their love for the franchise and why they’re so proud to have worked on this particular animated series.

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ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE begins its story when Scrat, the lovable saber-toothed squirrel made famous in the four previous films, accidentally creates the solar system.  While in pursuit of the elusive acorn that’s always just out of his reach, Scrat finds it wedged into a control lever that operates the flying saucer that was briefly introduced in the first film.  When he accidentally hits the lever and frees the alien ship, it shoots off into space creating a chain reaction which causes the planets to knock around like billiard balls, until a Meteor is eventually knocked onto a collision course with the Earth.  To save themselves, the franchise’s beloved characters – Sid, Manny, Ellie, Diego and the rest of the herd – must leave their home and embark on an adventure that takes them through exotic new lands where they meet a host of colorful new characters.

ICE AGE COLLISION COURSE

Scrat’s epic pursuit of the elusive acorn catapults him into the universe. Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

The prologue featuring Scrat is what sets the movie’s story into motion and as producer Lori Forte explains, it’s also where the ideas within the story came from as well.  “For this particular story, the stuff on Scrat actually came first, because it was really connected to the very first film… When they went through the ice museum and saw the prehistoric fish behind the ice, and then they saw the dinosaur behind the ice and then they pull back and we see the space ship…  Goodness knows how that ever got there…  No one ever knew…  It was just sort of a real fun little joke to us.  But, we also thought, ‘oh there’s something very interesting there’ and as a story we didn’t know what it was, but I knew one day we were going to tell (it)…  So, when we were thinking of ideas for this movie, every movie in the ICE AGE franchise seems to get bigger in scope than the one before it and I thought, ‘This is the perfect story to tell.  When Scrat actually comes back and falls into that spaceship from the very first movie and blasts off into space…  There’s a whole new world of cosmos that we can introduce which is so different from rest of the other ICE AGE movies’ and it just felt like that was the thing to do.  So, (I thought) once he’s up there rearranging the cosmos, what’s the worst thing that can happen to us?  Something that’s very relatable… that we can understand… that happens today and that’s sending an asteroid down towards Earth.  We read about it all the time.  We hear about all the near misses, we’re tracking where they are at all times…  NASA and scientist are trying to figure out how to divert asteroids.  It felt like the way to go. So once you start with that, then you figure out the storyline for the characters.”

ICE AGE COLLISION COURSE

The herd sets off on a quest to save themselves from a Scrat-tastrope. (from left): Julian (voiced by Adam Devine), Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer), Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez), Diego (voiced by Denis Leary), Crash and Eddie (voiced by Seann William Scott, Josh Peck), Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg). Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

 

With ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE being the fifth film in the franchise, Forte also discussed the importance of working on one film at a time when creating a series.  Instead of thinking forward to any future installments, she explained that looking back at the earlier films for inspiration can be helpful, but you had to approach the present film without thinking about what might be next.  “We always work at each film (one) at a time.  We never look forward.  We have to look back, because we want to see where we’ve been and we want to point to where we’re going, but we don’t usually look beyond the film we’re working on.”  She did conclude with a little tease though, “…if the audiences say they want another movie, I do have more ideas.”

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Queen Latifah as the voice of Ellie, photo by Kevin Estrada courtesy Blue Sky Studios

ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE

Wanda Sykes as the voice of Granny, photo by Bret Hartman courtesy Blue Sky Studios

 

When it comes to the characters in the film, all the actors seem to be happy about continuing on with the franchise.  Wanda Sykes explained, “For me it’s being able to have something out there that the whole family can see.  You know, kids can’t come to my shows…  It nice to have something that they all can see.”  Queen Latifa added, “Just the word of another ICE AGE movie… it’s almost like a magical thing that comes through the pipeline of your people… It exciting.  I’m going to be a hero to my nieces and nephews who will call me Auntie Ellie for months at a time.  It’s something that gets to live with them… I mean we’re all very talented actors and we can make the most R rated, raw, whatever… we can go there, but to be able to have something that we can let kids enjoy…  This will be part of their childhood memory.  They’ll grow up remembering the ICE AGE movie that they saw at that time and where they were, what the popcorn was like or who they went with and that gets to become part of their life experience and I think that’s very cool.”

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Ray Romano as the voice of Manny, photo by Kevin Estrada courtesy Blue Sky Studios

ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE

John Leguizamo as the voice of Sid, photo by Brian Friedman courtesy Blue Sky Studios

 

During the junket, a lot of the discussion centered itself around the voice-over recording process.  The actors were generally in a booth alone, without any other actors to work off of and no visual images to help them understand what the final product was going to look like.  Ray Romano described it as, “…another skill you’ve got to develop.”  John Leguizamo added, “It was complicated at first.  There’s no visuals.  There’s no cartoon.  There’s no other people’s voices.  You just have a script…  You have to feel free and it takes a while to feel free… then it’s great.”

Max Greenfield stressed the importance of having the directors present during the recording process, in order to assure that the actors had a full understanding of what was going to be animated on the screen after the voice-overs were completed.  “The directors come in and they know what’s happening so specifically on the animation side that they’re our best guides.  They know exactly what they need and what they want and are aware of everything else that’s happening.  You know at one point there was so much going on with rocks and explosions… that when we would be in the booth our directors would sit around us and say this is what’s happening and we would be able to go over each line individually with them knowing exactly what they wanted as they were walking us through it.”

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Max Greenfield as the voice of Roger, photo by Kevin Estrada courtesy Blue Sky Studios

ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE

Josh Peck as the voice of Eddie, photo by Brian Gordon courtesy Blue Sky Studios

 

Also, during the recording process, cameras were set up to record the actors visually in order to help the animators with the slight visual nuances needed when animating the characters.  Leguizamo explained, “They film us now…  and then they use that to animate with.”  By watching the actors as they perform their lines, the animators are able to take visual cues from the actors’ performances.  Forte explained, “We sometimes film them from the shoulders up…  Sometimes the animators will want to look for references- was he blinking when he did that, was his eyes cross- eyed or how’s he delivering that line and occasionally they will put it into the performance.”  Josh Peck added, “It’s quite cool to sort of see small nuances about your personality come out in the characters and the animators do a brilliant job in translating the things we do in the booth to the final product.”

Romano also made a point to give credit to the animators for effectively creating the emotions that come through in the animated characters’ performances.  “We’ve got to give credit to these guys.  Sometimes it’s fun.  Like in the first ICE AGE, my character was reading the sketchings on the wall and he saw his family and it got emotional.  I was like looking at that and thinking I’m going to get credit for the emotion.  People may start crying here and I get credit for it and I had nothing to do with it.  It was the animators.”

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The herd makes a shocking discovery. (from left): Julian (voiced by Adam Devine), Crash and Eddie (voiced by Seann William Scott, Josh Peck), Peaches (voiced by Keke Palmer), Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo), Granny (voiced by Wanda Sykes), Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), Diego (voiced by Denis Leary), Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), and Shira (voiced by Jennifer Lopez). Photo credit: Blue Sky Studios

 

Lastly, one of the main reasons that the ICE AGE films are so successful has to do with how the themes resonate with the moviegoing audiences.  As the junket began to wind down, Leguizamo talked about this, while trying to tap into the most important theme present throughout the franchise as a whole.  He said, “ICE AGE is all about family. The beautiful thing is that it’s different species (that) make a family. It doesn’t matter where you come from, which is the most beautiful message of it all.”

ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE opens across the country on July 22, 2016.  For more family movie news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Mark Oguschewitz

Mark Oguschewitz moved to Los Angeles, California after graduating with a film degree from Columbia College in Chicago, Ill. Pursuing a career in the industry, Mark became an award winning freelance editor. He is also known for being the creative consultant for the podcast "Skywalking through Neverland" and co-host of the Podcast "Talking Apes TV." Mark's short film "Gourmet" took the Best Micro-Short honor at the International Horror and Sci-Fi film festival in 2007. His spare time is all about movies. It's not just entertainment, but has become more of a real passion, as he tries to see everything he can. Art house or Blockbuster – It doesn't matter, he loves them all.