Peter Rabbit
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWill Gluck
Screenplay by
  • Rob Lieber
  • Will Gluck
Story by
  • Rob Lieber
  • Will Gluck
Based onThe Tale of Peter Rabbit
by Beatrix Potter
Produced by
  • Will Gluck
  • Zareh Nalbandian
Starring
CinematographyPeter Menzies Jr.
Edited byChristian Gazal
Jonathan Tappin
Music byDominic Lewis[1]
Production
companies
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release dates
  • February 3, 2018 (2018-02-03) (The Grove)
  • February 9, 2018 (2018-02-09) (United States)
  • March 16, 2018 (2018-03-16) (United Kingdom)
  • March 22, 2018 (2018-03-22) (Australia)
Running time
95 minutes[3]
Countries
  • Australia[4]
  • United Kingdom[4]
  • United States[4]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$50 million[5]
Box office$351.3 million[6]

Peter Rabbit is a 2018 comedy film based upon the character of the same name created by Beatrix Potter, co-produced by Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Olive Bridge Entertainment, Animal Logic, 2.0 Entertainment, and Screen Australia, and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. It was directed by Will Gluck, who also produced the film with Zareh Nalbandian, from a screenplay and story written by Gluck and Rob Lieber. James Corden stars as the voice of the title character, with Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Sam Neill, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste in live-action roles, as well as the voices of Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki, and Margot Robbie. The film's story focuses on Peter Rabbit as he deals with new problems when the late Mr. McGregor's great nephew arrives and discovers the trouble Peter's family can get into.

Peter Rabbit was released by Columbia Pictures in the United States on February 9, 2018, in the United Kingdom on March 16, 2018, and in Australia on March 22, 2018. The film received mixed reviews from critics mainly for its deviations from the source material. It also grossed $351 million worldwide on a $50 million budget. A sequel, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, was released in 2021 without the involvement of Sony Pictures Animation but did not gross much than the first film.

Plot

In England's Lake District, Peter Rabbit, his cousin, Benjamin Bunny and his triplet sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, spend most of their days picking on old Mr. McGregor, who had killed and eaten their father, and stealing vegetables from his garden. They are friends with a kind-hearted local resident named Bea, who took on a motherly role with the rabbits ever since their mother's death and who spends her time painting pictures of the rabbits as well as the surrounding nature. One day, Peter is forced to leave his jacket in Mr. McGregor's garden and goes back to retrieve it. However, it was a trap set by Mr. McGregor; he catches him, but suddenly dies of a heart attack, having lived an unhealthy lifestyle (including smoking, using asbestos, drinking water from a dirty bird bath and a poor diet) for many years. Enthralled, Peter invites all of the local animals and takes over Mr. McGregor's manor.

Meanwhile, in London, McGregor's great-nephew, Thomas McGregor, an uptight, controlling workaholic, works in the toy department of Harrods, where he waits for a promotion to associate general manager. After losing the promotion to a lazy nephew of the managing director, Thomas loses his temper and gets fired. When Thomas learns that his great-uncle's manor is valuable and that he has inherited it, he decides to appraise and prepare it for resale in order to start his own toy store near Harrods to get his revenge. He kicks out Peter and the other animals and begins to upgrade the security of the garden wall and gates. When Peter and a reluctant Benjamin sneak back into the garden, Thomas catches them and attempts to drown Benjamin in a river. Peter and his sisters rescue Benjamin and Thomas instead accidentally drops a prized set of binoculars Bea had given him earlier into the water. Angry, Thomas buys an electric fence and a supply of dynamite to ward off the rabbits.

Thomas and Bea end up falling in love with each other, much to Peter's jealousy. He and Thomas start a war with each other by setting traps and other offensive nuisances. Things get out of hand when Peter and his family rewire the electric fence to give Thomas a shock when he touches any doorknob leading to the outside, prompting Thomas to throw the dynamite in the rabbit hole. After the rabbits trigger Thomas' allergy to blackberries, he attacks them in the garden with some of the dynamite, on the warpath against them and tells Peter that his antics caused him to become aggressive. Bea, having heard the commotion, comes by, and Peter detonates the dynamite, proving to Bea that Thomas was using it, but accidentally blows up the rabbit hole, causing the tree on top to collapse on Bea's art studio. Bea ignores Thomas's explanation of the rabbits' involvement and ends their relationship, leaving a heartbroken Thomas to return to London.

Peter feels remorseful for the damage his recklessness has caused and upon learning that Bea intends to leave the neighborhood, he and Benjamin head to London to bring Thomas back. Making Thomas think that he was imagining the rabbits' ability to talk, Peter encourages him to follow his heart. They rush back to the country, where Peter shows Bea the detonator and presses it for her to see, thus confirming Thomas' previous claims that a rabbit caused the explosion. Bea forgives them and decides not to move away.

Peter and his family use their tricks to drive away an unpleasant wealthy couple who had bought the manor, which allows Thomas to stay as well. Thomas and Bea resume their relationship, and he allows the wildlife to take food from the garden within reason. Peter and his family restore the burrow, and the yard with Thomas and Bea's help, and Thomas sets up his own toy shop in the village, where Bea showcases her paintings of the rabbits.

Cast

Live-action actors

Voice actors

Production

The film was first revealed in April 2015 through email leaks as a result of the Sony Pictures hack.[7] The official announcement of the film came that December.[8]

In August 2016, Will Gluck was reported to direct from a script by Gluck and Rob Lieber, with James Corden cast as the voice of Peter Rabbit and Rose Byrne in one of the live-action roles.[9] Two years later around the time of the film's release, Byrne said that her character was a re-imagined version of Beatrix Potter.[10] Daisy Ridley and Elizabeth Debicki joined the cast in September 2016, and principal photography was scheduled to commence in Sydney, Australia, in January 2017.[11][12][13] The next month, Domhnall Gleeson was cast as Thomas McGregor, the descendant of the original Mr. McGregor, and Margot Robbie joined the cast, expected to voice a bunny, Flopsy.[14][15] In November, Sia was cast as Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.[16]

On December 18, 2016, a first image of the title character, along with the film's logo, was revealed.[17] Production began in December 2016.[18][19] Gluck produced the film along with Zareh Nalbandian of Animal Logic, which provided the visual effects and animation for the film.[9] The crew peaked at 80 animators, working as 6 core teams, each with a lead animator and a technical animator.[20] Live-action scenes were filmed at Centennial Park in Sydney.[21] and in Ambleside, Cumbria UK. In March 2017, filming took place at Central railway station, Sydney, which was depicted as London Paddington station along with Mortuary railway station being depicted as Windermere station.[22] The soundtrack features a version of the song "Steal My Sunshine" by the band Len with the lyrics rewritten to be about Peter Rabbit.[23]

Release

Peter Rabbit was originally scheduled to be released in the United States on March 23, 2018,[8] but it was moved up to be released on February 9, 2018.[24] The film was later released in the United Kingdom on March 16, and in Australia on March 22.

Trailer criticism

The first trailer received negative feedback from critics and fans of the character, many of whom labelled the film as being too modern and insulting to Beatrix Potter's works. Collider called the trailer "garbage" and a "low brow 'comedy' cringe fest".[25]

Stuart Heritage from The Guardian stated, "the Peter Rabbit film looks like the result of some blisteringly inept manhandling [...] there's something genuinely harrowing about the sight of Peter Rabbit – gentle, Edwardian Peter Rabbit – thoughtlessly injuring some birds, or grabbing a pile of lettuce leaves and making it rain like a banker in a strip club, or literally twerking," and argued, "there is no way on Earth that she'd [Beatrix Potter] have ever given the green light to a slow-motion car crash like this."[26]

Metro writer James Baldock found that the trailer was "so gut-wrenchingly bad" and that "if the movie lives up to its two-minute preview – [it] is set to be the greatest abomination to grace the big screen since The Emoji Movie." He finished by writing, "Listen carefully, and you can just about hear the sound of Beatrix Potter, turning furiously in her grave."[27] On November 7, a new trailer for the United Kingdom was released.[28]

Box office

Peter Rabbit grossed $115.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $235.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $351.2 million, against a production budget of $50 million.[6]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Fifty Shades Freed and The 15:17 to Paris, and was projected to gross around $16 million from 3,725 theaters in its opening weekend, with some estimates as high as $25 million.[29] It ended up making $25 million over the weekend, finishing second at the box office behind Fifty Shades ($38.8 million).[30] The film dropped 30% in its second weekend to $17.5 million ($23.4 million over the four-day President's Day weekend), finishing second behind newcomer Black Panther.[31]

In the UK, Peter Rabbit became the biggest family film of 2018, overtaking Pixar's Coco with $56.3 million.[32] Totals from other markets include China ($26.5 million), Australia ($20.2 million), France ($12.3 million) and Germany ($12.1 million).[33]

Home media

The film was released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on digital platforms on April 20, 2018. A Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD followed on May 1, 2018.[34] The Blu-ray extra features include "Shake Your Cotton-Tail Dance Along" (a dance-along to the song "I Promise You"), "Peter Rabbit: Mischief in the Making" (a seven-minute behind-the-scenes video), and "Flopsy Turvy" (a mini-movie focusing on Peter's triplet sisters).[35] In the United States, a Special Garden Edition Blu-ray & DVD was released as a Target exclusive with a bonus disc featuring a seventeen-minute featurette titled "Make Your Own Garden".[36]

Reception

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 63% based on 149 reviews and an average rating of 5.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Peter Rabbit updates Beatrix Potter's classic characters with colourfully agreeable results that should entertain younger viewers while admittedly risking the wrath of purists."[37] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 51 out of 100 based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[38] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[39]

Olly Richards at Empire gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, praising the "splendid" animation and Gleeson's performance, though he felt that Corden had been miscast.[40] Chris Nashawaty at Entertainment Weekly gave the film a 'B' grade, saying it was "clever, and funny, and moves as fast as a tyke on a sugar bender", noting its differences with the source material.[41] Robbie Collin at The Daily Telegraph gave it 2 out of 5 stars, praising the "appealing double act" of Gleeson and Byrne but comparing the film unfavourably to Paddington and criticising the characterisation of Peter Rabbit.[42] Susan Wloszczyna on RogerEbert.com gave it 2 out of 4 stars, agreeing that Peter "goes from likably cheeky chap to sneering sadist".[43]

Mark Kermode was critical of the film associating itself with the books, saying, "If you've read the books, you will be appalled," and adding, "I think if you can read, you're likely to be appalled."[44] James Corden's father, Malcolm, complained about the review and the description of his son as "appallingly irritating".[45][46]

Controversy

In the first week after the film's release, groups in multiple countries criticized it for "allergy bullying" and called for an apology from Sony. The accusations focused on a scene where Thomas McGregor, who is known to be allergic to blackberries, is pelted with them until one lands in his mouth, causing him to suffer an allergic reaction requiring the use of his Epipen.[47][48][49] In response, Sony published a statement saying, "We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize".[50] In his review, Robbie Collin said, "...it is a horrible scene – not because allergies are comedically untouchable, but because it makes Peter an irredeemably nasty piece of work."[42]

Accolades

Award Date Category Recipients Result Ref.
Teen Choice Awards August 12, 2018 Choice Fantasy Movie Peter Rabbit Nominated [51]
Choice Fantasy Movie Actor James Corden Nominated
AACTA Awards December 3, 2018 Best Production Design Roger Ford, Lisa Thompson Won [52]
Best Original Music Score Dominic Lewis Nominated

Sequel

Main article: Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Sony Pictures released a sequel entitled Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway in Australia on March 25, 2021, then in the United Kingdom on May 21, and in the United States on June 11.[53] It was initially set to be released in the United States on April 3, 2020, in Australia on March 19, 2020, and in the United Kingdom on March 27, 2020. The film was delayed multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, before moving to its final release dates.[54][55][56][57][58][59] Gluck returned to write and direct the film.[60]

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