The Croods are back, courtesy of this poster for Stone Age sequel The Croods: A New Age.
The Neanderthal family was introduced in The Croods, 2013’s charming DreamWorks Animation feature from Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco that starred Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke and Cloris Leachman. That film followed a lovable band of cavepeople as they survived wonderfully imaginative prehistoric creatures and learned to – you guessed it! – evolve. It really is a wonderful, if somewhat under-appreciated movie, certainly one of DreamWorks’ very best (it was also nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar). A sequel seemed somewhat inevitable, although the road to get here was a long and bumpy one indeed.
Shortly after the first film was released, work began on a sequel with Sanders and DeMicco returning to direct, with the original cast reprising their roles and a release date already penciled in: November 3, 2017. Release dates slipped, first to December 2017 and then, after the Universal/Comcast acquisition of DreamWorks Animation, to sometime in 2018. Leslie Mann and Kat Dennings were named as new cast members. But in November 2016, Universal and DreamWorks announced that the movie had been straight-up canceled. Sanders and DeMicco left the project – Sanders to direct the underrated live-action/animated hybrid The Call of the Wild from earlier this year, and DeMicco to direct the ambitious animated musical Vivo for Sony Pictures Animation (featuring songs by some guy named Lin-Manuel Miranda), set for release next summer.
One of the bigger roadblocks I had heard was that Sanders and DeMicco’s storyline for the sequel was being used by Dawn of the Croods, the iffy Netflix animated series spin-off that ran for four seasons from 2015 to 2017.
But – miraculously! – in 2017 it was announced that a Croods sequel was a go (again) and while touring DreamWorks Animation’s Glendale, California campus in the run-up to Abominable, there was a ton of Croods artwork on the walls. They were very much in the swing of it. Joel Crawford was announced as the new director and Mark Swift the new producer, with a September 2020 release date planned (later pushed back to Christmas 2020). Just yesterday it was announced that the new release date would be November 25, 2020, which puts its supposed theatrical debut just five days after Disney•Pixar’s Soul and the latest 007 entry No Time to Die. The last DreamWorks Animation movie, Trolls World Tour, caused major controversy earlier this year as the first major studio movie to make its debut on home video thanks to the worldwide pandemic. But today’s poster clearly states “In Theaters Thanksgiving.”
We also got a new synopsis for the movie, which follows: “The Croods need a new place to live. So, the first prehistoric family sets off into the world in search of a safer place to call home. When they discover an idyllic walled-in paradise that meets all their needs, they think their problems are solved … except for one thing. Another family already lives there: the Bettermans. The Bettermans (emphasis on the “better”)—with their elaborate tree house, amazing inventions and irrigated acres of fresh produce—are a couple of steps above the Croods on the evolutionary ladder. When they take the Croods in as the world’s first houseguests, it isn’t long before tensions escalate between the cave family and the modern family.”
What’s fascinating about this synopsis is that much of the plot is what Sanders and DeMicco developed – and what was subsequently canceled. In fact, Leslie Mann is still in the cast, playing one of the Bettermans! (Kat Dennings has been replaced by Kelly Marie Tran.) It will really be fascinating to hear from those involved (hint hint) how similar this movie is to the one that was developed and abandoned a few years ago.
The entire cast from the first movie is returning, with Mann, Tran and Peter Dinklage (as the Bettermans). The film will (hopefully) be released on November 25, 2020.