FernGully: The Last Rainforest
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBill Kroyer
Screenplay byJim Cox
Based onFernGully
by Diana Young
Produced byPeter Faiman
Wayne Young
Edited byGillian Hutshing
Music byAlan Silvestri
Kroyer Films, Inc.[a]
Youngheart Productions
FAI Films
Distributed by20th Century Fox (United States)
Hoyts-Fox-Columbia TriStar Films (Australia)[1]
Release dates
  • April 10, 1992 (1992-04-10) (North America)
  • August 27, 1992 (1992-08-27) (Australia)
Running time
76 minutes
United States[2]
Budget$24 million[3]
Box office$32.7 million[4]

FernGully: The Last Rainforest is a 1992 independent[5] animated musical fantasy film. The feature directorial debut by Bill Kroyer, FernGully was scripted by Jim Cox and adapted from the "FernGully" stories by Diana Young. The film is an Australian and American[2] venture produced by Kroyer Films, Inc., Youngheart Productions, FAI Films and 20th Century Fox. It stars the voices of Samantha Mathis, Tim Curry, Christian Slater, Jonathan Ward, Robin Williams, and Grace Zabriskie. FernGully is set in an Australian rainforest inhabited by fairies including Crysta, who accidentally shrinks a young logger named Zak to the size of a fairy. Together, they rally the fairies and the animals of the rainforest to protect their home from the loggers and Hexxus, a malevolent pollution entity. Wayne Young, the film's producer, said the film was "blatantly environmental" though made an effort to avoid "preaching".

The film was released to mainly positive reviews, and was also generally considered a moderate financial success at both the box office and in home video sales. In 1998, it was followed by a direct-to-video sequel FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue, though none of the original voice cast reprised their roles.


Crysta is a fairy of curious nature who lives in FernGully, a picturesque rainforest free from human pollution. The fairies of FernGully once lived in harmony with humans, but believe them to have gone extinct after having been driven away by a dark spirit named Hexxus. Crysta is the apprentice of Magi, a fairy who imprisoned Hexxus in a tree. One day, Crysta explores a new part of the forest and meets Batty Koda, a bat who claims to have been experimented on by humans, giving him a manic and deluded personality. However, fairies refuse to believe him except for Crysta who volunteers to investigate the situation. She meets Zak, a young lumberjack whom Crysta accidentally shrinks when she tries to save him from being crushed by a falling tree, though does not know how to restore him to normal size. Zak initially believes Crysta to be hostile, but gains trust in her when she saves him from a hungry goanna.

The tree that Hexxus is imprisoned in is cut down by Zak's supervisors Tony and Ralph. Hexxus quickly begins to regain his powers by feeding on pollution. He manipulates Tony and Ralph to drive to FernGully. In FernGully, Zak meets Pips, a fairy jealous of Zak's relationship with Crysta. Zak begins to fall in love with Crysta, but hides the true reason that the humans had returned. When the signs of Hexxus's resurrection begin to manifest themselves in poisoned trees and rivers, Zak finally admits that humans are destroying the forest. The fairies mount an attempt to defend their homes. Knowing their fight is hopeless, Zak convinces Batty to aid him in stopping the machine before it destroys them. When Zak makes his presence known to Tony and Ralph, Hexxus takes over the machine and begins to wildly destroy the forest.

Magi sacrifices herself to give the fairies a chance, and she tells Crysta to remember everything she's learned. Zak manages to stop the machine, depriving Hexxus the source of his power, but he manifests himself within the oil in the machine and begins to ignite the forest ablaze. Crysta sacrifices herself by allowing herself to be devoured by Hexxus and all seems lost until he begins to sprout limbs and leaves like a tree. Pips and the rest of the fairies rally to the powers they have been given, which causes the seed that Crysta fed Hexxus to start growing wildly. Hexxus and the machine are both simultaneously imprisoned by the newly grown tree at the very border of FernGully which bursts into bloom.

Crysta appears after the fight, having survived, and succeeds Magi as a magical fairy. She gives Zak a seed, begging him to remember everything that has transpired, and she forlornly restores him to his human size. Remembering the seed in his hand, Zak promises to remember his adventure, and buries the seed in the soil before telling Tony and Ralph that things need to change as they leave the forest behind. The seed sprouts new growth for FernGully as Crysta playfully chases Pips with Batty following.


Tim Curry, pictured in 1995, provided the voice for Hexxus, the film's main antagonist
Tim Curry, pictured in 1995, provided the voice for Hexxus, the film's main antagonist


In the book Disney, Pixar, and the Hidden Messages of Children's Films, M. Keith Booker states that FernGully "focuses on the theme of the destruction of the Earth's rainforests. In this case the rainforest is located near Mount Warning, on the eastern coast of Australia, but the theme is global, and the specific location is not particularly emphasized". Despite the environmental theme, Booker stated the film was "somewhat vague in its explanation of the dire consequences of rainforest destruction, and it addresses the economic impetus behind this destruction hardly at all"; the fact that the rainforest was saved at the end of the film "diminishes the urgency of its environmentalist message" and that the character of Hexxus "displaces the real blame for environmental destruction from its real perpetrators onto nonexistent supernatural perpetrators, further diluting the political message." The character of Batty was said to introduce "the secondary theme of animal experimentation, though with a light touch that presents this potentially horrifying motif as essentially humorous."[6]

In the book Eco-Impacts and the Greening of Postmodernity, Tom Jagtenberg and David McKie comment that radical views of ecology flourished in the film, perhaps because it was "aimed at a younger generation ... and belong[s] to relatively discredited genres". As Zak is shrunk to fairy size and integrated into the fairy world, more similarities rather than differences are implied with the nonhuman characters. Crysta is said to defeat the evil Hexxus "in the manner of classic western genre heroes", though with the key difference that her weapon is a seed rather than a revolver, allowing the produce of nature to share the heroic role with her.[7]


Producer Wayne Young said his passion for the environment was his motivation for making the film, saying the film was "blatantly environmental, although we have gone to a lot of trouble to avoid preaching. We also want it to be viewed as entertainment." The inspiration for FernGully came from stories written by his former wife, Diana Young.[8][9] Diana first wrote the story of FernGully 15 years before the film's release. Wayne said the couple planned a film adaptation for five years, then spent "seven years of dreaming and hustling, followed by another three years of production". Wayne stated their dream was not possible until the success of Walt Disney Feature Animation's 1989 film The Little Mermaid, which brought popularity back to animation.[3] Hand-drawn scenes in the film were complemented by computer animation, which was used to create elements such as flocks of birds that would have taken much longer to animate traditionally. Kroyer states 40,000 frames of computer-generated graphics were used in the film, and that the use of such animation halved the production time.[10] Most of the film's $24 million budget was spent on the animation and the soundtrack.[3]

The film marked Robin Williams's first animation role, with the character Batty Koda being created specifically for him. Williams provided 14 hours' worth of improvised lines for the part, which had been originally conceived as an eight-minute role. Director Bill Kroyer was so impressed with the voice work, he ended up tripling the screen time given to the character. Williams went on to provide the voice of the Genie in Disney's Aladdin later the same year, receiving critical acclaim.[11] Williams had already agreed to voice Batty Koda before being approached to do Aladdin. Jeffrey Katzenberg, then-chairman of Walt Disney Studios, tried to force Williams to withdraw from FernGully, on the grounds he did not want him voicing two animated characters around the same time, but Williams refused. According to Wayne Young, Disney repeatedly interfered with the production of FernGully, twice taking over spaces the producers had rented by offering to pay more. When the producers eventually set up a studio in a former brewery in the San Fernando Valley, Disney attempted to purchase it. Katzenberg declined to comment on the issue when approached by Vanity Fair in 2017.[8]

The voice cast of FernGully agreed with the film's message, and worked for scale wages.[3][12][13] The film marked the first time that both members of Cheech & Chong had worked together in six years, with the two voicing beetle brothers Stump and Root. Cheech Marin said "It was just like old times, but we only worked for two or three hours, had a pizza and split."[14]


The film's score was composed and produced by Alan Silvestri.[15] It was released as an album and consisted of 14 tracks, running just under 44 minutes in length.[16]


The soundtrack album was released by MCA Records. Peter Fawthrop from Allmusic gave the album three out of five stars, commenting that the songs were "lighter and more pop-driven than Disney soundtracks from the '90s, but they are not childish."[17] All songs on the soundtrack were performed in the film.

1."Life Is a Magic Thing"Thomas DolbyJohnny Clegg4:30
2."Batty Rap"Thomas DolbyRobin Williams2:52
3."If I'm Gonna Eat Somebody (It Might As Well Be You)"Jimmy Buffett & Mike UtleyTone Loc4:02
4."Toxic Love"Thomas DolbyTim Curry4:39
5."Raining Like Magic"RaffiRaffi3:18
6."Land of a Thousand Dances"Chris KennerGuy2:58
7."A Dream Worth Keeping"Jimmy Webb & Alan SilvestriSheena Easton4:18
8."Some Other World"Elton John & Bruce RobertsElton John4:43
Total length:31:18


FernGully was released in the United States on April 10, 1992, and in Australia on September 17. The film was shown at the United Nations General Assembly on Earth Day, April 22, 1992.[18]

Box office

FernGully grossed US$32.7 million worldwide, including $24.7 million from the United States,[4] and $3.4 million in Australia.[19] The box office performance was described as a moderate success[20][21] though it grossed below expectations, possibly because of its ecological message.[13] Joseph Gelmis from Newsday, however, described FernGully's box office performance as "dismal", though noted it was the most successful recent non-Disney animated film.[22] Co-executive producer Jaime Willett and Josh Baran, who worked on the film's marketing, both spoke of the difficulties of getting attention to an animated film that was not produced by Disney, with Willett stating box office revenue would have at least doubled by simply having the headline "Walt Disney presents" on the film.[20] USA Today noted that the combined box office gross of FernGully and the five other non-Disney animated films released in 1992 did not even equal a third of the gross for Disney's 1991 film Beauty and the Beast.[23]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 67% based on reviews from 18 critics, with an average rating of 6.4/10.[24] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 67 out of 100 based on reviews from 15 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[25] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A" on scale of A to F.[26]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three out of four stars, saying the film was visually "very pleasing," told a "useful lesson", "and although the movie is not a masterpiece it's pleasant to watch for its humor and sweetness."[27] Hollis Chacona from The Austin Chronicle added that the film was "funny, pretty, touching, scary, magical stuff."[28] According to Wayne Young, Jeffrey Katzenberg called the producers of FernGully to tell them that he loved the film.[9]

Conversely, Janet Maslin of The New York Times had an unfavorable impression of the film, describing it as "an uncertain blend of sanctimonious principles and Saturday-morning cartoon aesthetics" and "more run-of-the-mill than its subject matter might indicate".[15]


Wayne Young stated that portions of the film's gross would be donated to Greenpeace, the Rainforest Foundation Fund, and the Sierra Club, as well as a special fund benefiting environmental projects worldwide that was administered by the Smithsonian Institution,[3] though he did not disclose exact figures.[9] The film also inspired a 1992 video game by Capstone Software and IntraCorp called The FernGully Computerized Coloring Book.[29][30] In 1998 the film was followed by a direct-to-video sequel, FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue.

FAI Films, which only ever produced FernGully and its sequel, was acquired by HIH Insurance in 1998. HIH closed in 2001. In June 2012, administrators for HIH placed advertisements trying to sell the rights to both films.[31] On November 11, 2021 Shout! Factory announced a deal with Machine Media Advisors, stated to be the owner of the rights to FernGully, for worldwide distribution rights to the film.[32]

Some reviewers have commented that the 2009 James Cameron film Avatar plagiarized thematic and plot elements from FernGully,[33][34] though others have stated it is simply one of many films that Avatar is similar to,[35] or have dismissed the comparison entirely.[36] The 2013 film Epic was also said to have an unoriginal plot similar to FernGully.[37]

Home media

Four months after the theatrical release, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, under its previous name "Fox Video", released FernGully on VHS and LaserDisc on August 26, 1992. Sales were strong,[20] with approximately five million units sold by 1998,[21] including 125,000 in Australia.[19]

Fox re-released the film on DVD in 2001. Christopher Simons from DVD Talk gave the 2001 DVD three-and-a-half stars out of five for both audio and video, though only one star for special features, noting that the only extras included were trailers for other films.[38] A "Family Fun Edition" DVD was released in 2005. Special features included commentary with director Bill Kroyer, art director Ralph Eggleston, and coordinating art director Susan Kroyer, several featurettes including the original featurette from 1992, the music video for If I'm Gonna Eat Somebody (It Might As Well Be You) by Tone Loc, as well as trailers and TV spots. Scott Weinberg from DVD Talk gave this version four stars out of five for both audio and video, and also four stars for special features.[39]

For its 20th anniversary, FernGully was released on Blu-ray Disc on March 6, 2012, containing the same special features as the "Family Fun Edition". Aaron Peck from High Def Digest gave it three out of five stars for video quality, four stars for audio and three-and-a-half stars for extras.[40] Brian Orndorf from Blu-ray.com gave the release three out of five stars for video quality, three-and-a-half stars for audio and four stars for special features.[41] Shout! Factory released Ferngully on Blu-ray in 2022 as part of its 30th anniversary.[42]


  1. ^ Animation ink, paint and camera services outsourced to A. Film Production, Available Light, The Chandler Group, Electric Filmworks, Hanho Animation Studios, Karen Johnson Productions, Kroyer Productions, Inc. Luk Film, Lumenj Productions, Inc., Nick Vasu, Inc., Rough Draft Studios, Inc., Saerom Co., Ltd., Slam Mammoth Animation Co., Ltd., Time Art Studios, Ullmation, and Wang Film Productions.

See also


  1. ^ "Fern Gully - The Last Rainforest". Australian Classification Board. August 30, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "Ferngully The Last Rainforest". British Film Institute. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e Brownstein, Bill (April 16, 1992). "It's hip, it's animated, and it's eco-friendly; Cartoon adventure FernGully began with an idea 15 years ago". The Gazette. p. F1. ISSN 0384-1294.
  4. ^ a b "Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  5. ^ Tattoli, Chantel (July 16, 2018). "Robin Williams's Best Role". The Paris Review. Archived from the original on December 6, 2022.
  6. ^ Booker, M. Keith (November 25, 2009). Disney, Pixar, and the Hidden Messages of Children's Films. Praeger. pp. 122–124. ISBN 978-0-31337-672-6.
  7. ^ Jagtenberg, Tom; McKie, David (November 7, 1996). Eco-Impacts and the Greening of Postmodernity. Sage Publications. pp. 177–178. ISBN 978-0803974074.
  8. ^ a b Tattoli, Chantel (April 25, 2017). "FernGully at 25: How an Upstart Disney Rival Created a Millennial Silent Spring". Vanity Fair.
  9. ^ a b c Portman, Jamie (April 14, 1992). "Ferngully an enchantment". Calgary Herald. p. C7. ISSN 1197-2823. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  10. ^ Rickitt, Richard (2000). Special Effects: The History and Technique. Billboard Books. p. 147. ISBN 0-8230-7733-0.
  11. ^ Rusoff, Jane Wollman (June 9, 1992). "Animation gives stars a whole other way to express themselves". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. D1. ISSN 1082-8850.
  12. ^ Wuntch, Phillip (December 18, 1992). "Williams serious about Toys: It's a whimsical response to military mind". The Province. p. C10. ISSN 0839-3311.
  13. ^ a b Green, Tom (December 18, 1992). "Wild Child: Playful role fits the boyish soul". USA Today. p. 01D. ISSN 0734-7456.
  14. ^ Rusoff, Jane Wollman (May 13, 1992). "Speaking Up: Stars lend their voices to animated characters". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. pp. 1W, 4W. ISSN 1930-9600 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  15. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (April 10, 1992). "Ferngully: the Last Rainforest (1992)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  16. ^ "Alan Silvestri: Ferngully...The Last Rainforest [Original Score & Sounds of the Rainforest]". AllMusic. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  17. ^ "Original Soundtrack: Ferngully...The Last Rainforest". AllMusic. Archived from the original on April 29, 2016. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  18. ^ Kahlenberg, Richard (April 9, 1992). "An Aussie Vision: The creators of 'FernGully-The Last Rainforest' find a taste of home in Ojai. Their film opens tomorrow". Los Angeles Times. p. 14. ISSN 0458-3035.
  19. ^ a b "Own Your Own". The Newcastle Herald. May 29, 1998. p. 12.
  20. ^ a b c Horn, John (December 3, 1993). "Animated features not always a draw". The Globe and Mail. p. D3. ISSN 0319-0714.
  21. ^ a b Scally, Robert (March 23, 1998). "Studios forgo kiddie matinees to build direct-to-video branding". Discount Store News. pp. 53–55.
  22. ^ Gelmis, Joseph (December 13, 1992). "That Disney Touch". Newsday. p. 6.
  23. ^ Wloszczyna, Susan (November 4, 1992). "A wish upon 'Aladdin': Disney rubs magic lamp of animation". USA Today. p. 01D. ISSN 0734-7456.
  24. ^ "Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on May 17, 2016. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  25. ^ "FernGully: The Last Rainforest". Metacritic. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  26. ^ "Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992) A". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  27. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 10, 1992). "Ferngully: The Last Rainforest". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2015 – via RogerEbert.com.
  28. ^ Chacona, Hollis (April 17, 1992). "Ferngully: The Last Rainforest". The Austin Chronicle. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  29. ^ "FernGully - Taking a Peek". Computer Gaming World. No. 95. Ziff Davis. June 1992. pp. 8, 10.
  30. ^ DeCoster, Jeane; Crook, David (April 18, 1992). "Coloring Book Caper". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 27, 2018. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  31. ^ Schmidl, Engel (June 4, 2012). "Cartoon crisis as Australian animated film companies are liquidated". SmartCompany. Archived from the original on August 27, 2018. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  32. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (November 11, 2021). "Exclusive: Shout! Studios Secures Worldwide Rights to 'FernGully: The Last Rainforest'". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on November 11, 2021. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  33. ^ Schwartzberg, Joel (January 4, 2010). "What Did 'Avatar' Borrow from 'FernGully'?". IVillage. Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved April 15, 2010.
  34. ^ Quinn, Karl (December 17, 2009). "Don't just watch Avatar, see it". The Age. Archived from the original on April 27, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  35. ^ Mullins, Matthew (January 23, 2013). "James Cameron Must Turn Over to Eric Ryder His Script For avatar in Battle Over who Created The Sci-Fi World". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on April 2, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  36. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (November 2, 2010). "The Complete List Of Sources Avatar's Accused Of Ripping Off". Io9. Archived from the original on December 7, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  37. ^ Lee, Stephan (May 22, 2013). "Epic Movie Review". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014.
  38. ^ Simons, Christopher (February 3, 2002). "FernGully". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  39. ^ Weinberg, Scott (October 20, 2005). "FernGully: The Last Rainforest - Family Fun Edition". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  40. ^ Peck, Aaron (March 8, 2012). "FernGully: The Last Rainforest". High Def Digest. Archived from the original on November 9, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  41. ^ Orndorf, Brian (October 4, 2012). "FernGully: The Last Rainforest Blu-ray Review". Blu-ray.com. Archived from the original on July 28, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  42. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (November 11, 2021). "Exclusive: Shout! Studios Secures Worldwide Rights to 'FernGully: The Last Rainforest'". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on November 11, 2021. Retrieved November 11, 2021.