DreamWorks Animation has not only revealed the existence of “Ruby Gilman, Teenage Kraken,” they’ve also released the first trailer for the film.
DreamWorks Animation’s latest original feature, coming off a one-two punch from 2022’s “The Bad Guys” and Oscar-nominated “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” “Ruby Gilman, Teenage Kraken,” deals with the title character (voiced by Lana Condor), who is masquerading as a human and attending Oceanside High on the ground. Once she discovers her ancestral heritage, thanks to her grandmother (voiced by Jane Fonda), she is able to get in touch with all of her powers – both literal (laser eyes!) and emotional.
TheWrap spoke with director Kirk DeMicco, who co-directed “The Croods” with Chris Sanders for DreamWorks Animation, and producer Kelly Cooney Silella, about where “Ruby Gilman, Teenage Kraken” came from and what we can expect. Maybe when the film starts this summer.
“It was an original project from DreamWorks, our first project that was not based on any existing IP,” said Connie Silella of the film’s genesis. “It started as a pitch of this idea of a family of sea monsters that have moved onto land and are hiding in plain sight. Through our processes, developing the film, we really wanted Ruby to be the main character.” as the character and begins to tell the story through her eyes and her own journey of self-discovery – the secret she’s been hiding is really what makes her special and that once If she learns to embrace that side of herself, she can be the hero of her own story. And we thought it was such a beautiful message, but told in this fun, epic, thrilling adventure.”
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For the film’s look, DeMicco turned to production designer Pierre-Olivier Vincent, a DreamWorks Animation vet who started at the company in its early days and worked on all three “How to Train Your Dragon” films. Vincent had experience with what DeMicco described as “world building”, which was perfect because “Ruby Gilman, Teenage Kraken” features two distinct worlds – the human world of Oceanside and the underwater Kraken kingdom. . “He was very inspired by the design language of octopuses, like the curves of the octopus. That curvy language is all over the design — whether it’s in their refrigerators, the cars, or the character design in the school itself. And then even more so in the Kraken empire.” More underwater, which you get a glimpse of in the trailer.
But what did the filmmakers look to for inspiration?
“I definitely think we were inspired by all the teen comedies we grew up with, but even more recent ones, you know, like ‘Booksmart’ or ‘Lady Bird’ or ‘Easy A. There are so many great movies we’ve seen and we thought it was a great backdrop to tell this kind of story, where the halls of Oceanside are almost as dangerous as the mermaid/Kraken fight going on under the sea.” Connie Cillela explained. “And opposing those two ideas we thought was a really fun opportunity to play with these different characters and tropes.”
When it came to technical challenges (since what would a modern animated feature be without an insane technical challenge?), DeMicko had a quick answer: water. He points to a shot in the trailer of the mermaid Chelsea (voiced by Emmy-winner Annie Murphy) becoming kaiju-sized and rising out of the ocean. “They do these calculations and it would be like the Pacific Ocean was pulled through a hair every minute. It’s really cool to present the amount of water to make this thing work,” Demicko said.
Toni Collette, Coleman Domingo, Sam Richardson, Jabuki Young-White and Will Forte also star in “Ruby Gilman, Teenage Kraken” alongside Nicole Byer, Liza Koshy, Ramona Young, Eduardo Franco and Echo Kellum. The film was co-directed by Farin Pearl.
“Ruby Gilman, Teenage Kraken” arrives June 30, 2023 as part of a very siren-filled summer movie season.
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