The Wild
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteve "Spaz" Williams
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Mark Gibson
  • Philip Halprin
Produced by
Edited by
  • Scott Balcerek
  • Steven L. Wagner
Music byAlan Silvestri
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution[a]
Release date
  • April 14, 2006 (2006-04-14)
Running time
82 minutes[3]
Budget$80 million[5]
Box office$102.3 million[6]

The Wild is a 2006 animated adventure comedy film directed by animator Steve "Spaz" Williams (in his director debut) and written by Ed Decter, John J. Strauss, Mark Gibson and Philip Halprin. It features the voices of Kiefer Sutherland, Eddie Izzard, Jim Belushi, Janeane Garofalo, Richard Kind, William Shatner, and Greg Cipes. The film's plot centers around Samson, a male lion who loses his preteen son Ryan when he wanders off and accidentally gets shipped from the Central Park Zoo to Africa, he teams up with a group of animals as they embark on a journey to rescue his missing son and take risks to evade dangers along the way.

Produced by Hoytyboy Pictures, Sir Zip Studios and Contrafilm,[1][2] it was animated by C.O.R.E. Feature Animation. It was released to theaters in North America on April 14, 2006, by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution and earned $102 million (equivalent to $154,161,770 in 2023) on an $80 million (equivalent to $120,911,192 in 2023) budget. The film was a critical and commercial failure, with criticism for its animation and similarities to films such as Madagascar, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King.


At the Central Park Zoo, Samson the lion tells his preteen son Ryan stories of his adventures in the Wilds of Africa. Ryan wants to go to the wild too to learn how to roar like his father, but Samson disapproves of the idea.

When the zoo closes, all the animals are free to roam. Samson and his friends, Benny the squirrel, Bridget the giraffe whom Benny has a crush on, Larry the dim-witted anaconda, and Nigel the unlucky but popular koala compete in a turtle curling championship. Ryan and his own friends accidentally cause a stampede which heads to the game and endangers the animals.

Samson and Ryan have a falling-out and Ryan runs off before Samson can apologize. He later sneaks into a green Intermodal container which is rumored to be heading to the wild. Just as he regrets his decision, Ryan suddenly gets locked inside the container, which is then being loaded onto a freight truck, eventually shipping him away in the process.

With the help of a pigeon, Hamir, Samson, and his friends go after Ryan, hiding in a garbage disposal truck, but Benny falls overboard. After passing through Times Square and nearly being crushed in the truck, the group encounters a pack of rabid dogs, and instead of standing his ground, Samson escapes through the sewer rather than fighting as his friends expect for him to do. There, they take directions to the docks from two friendly streetwise sewer alligator brothers, Stan and Carmine.

The next morning, they steal a tugboat during a hectic escape from the harbor. After reuniting with Benny, who has followed them with a flock of geese, Samson manages to drive the boat with Larry's help and the geese lead them to the right direction toward Ryan's ship.

A few days later the boat runs aground in Africa, where all the animals in the area are being evacuated by the carriers, as a nearby volcano is about to erupt. They witness Ryan run into the jungle, but Samson is unable to find him. After failing to eat a rock hyrax named Colin, his friends question if he has ever been in the wild before, to which he forlornly confirms. The rest of the group heads back to the ship, but Samson continues to search for his son. While walking, he sees plants and rocks changing colors, which he attributes as his instincts working.

Nigel is abducted by a herd of wildebeest who reside in the volcano and their leader, Kazar, pronounces him "The Great Him," based on an "omen" he received when he was young: about to be devoured by lions, a toy koala fell from a plane and scared the lions away, saving his life. This experience made Kazar believe that "The Great Him" will help him and his kind create a change in the food chain that will allow prey to become predators and vice versa. In order to do that, he thinks the wildebeest have to eat a lion. Bridget and Larry are also captured and planned to be eaten as well.

Ryan hides up in an old tree, but a gang of vultures attacks him under Kazar's orders. The branch breaks and traps his paw. Samson hears Ryan's cries and runs to save him, scaring off the vultures. The two reunite but are interrupted by the wildebeest. Ryan is shocked when Samson tells him to run. They retreat to a tree where Samson reveals the truth about his past: he was actually born in a circus and was unable to roar just like Ryan. Because of this, Samson's callous father stated that he would've roared better if he was born in the wild and allowed him to be sent to the zoo, where he lied about his origins to avoid embarrassment. The wildebeest discover them and push the tree over the cliff, with Samson still hanging on. Ryan is captured and taken to the volcano.

After a run-in with a group of female German dung beetles, Benny finds Samson and gives him the confidence to be himself, even if he is not from the wild. They soon find out that Samson's "instincts" were actually two chameleons named Cloak and Camo who have been leading Samson to the volcano so he would help them defeat Kazar's army. Samson uses the chameleons' camouflage abilities to sneak into the volcano, but when his disguise blows off due to the intense heat of the mountain, Kazar orders his army to attack. Seeing Samson in danger, Ryan climbs onto a catapulting device and launches himself at Kazar, finally letting out a roar. With Kazar distracted, Samson easily overpowers him. Ryan tells Samson that he is happy to have him as a father. The other wildebeest are touched by this and refuse to serve Kazar any further, having grown fed up with his delusions. Samson then gains the courage and roars powerfully enough to push back a charging Kazar. The group and the wildebeest flee, leaving Kazar to die in the erupting volcano.

Everyone manages to escape on the boat and travel back to the Central Park Zoo in their New York home.



In March 2006, for a month-long "spring break" engagement exclusive to the El Capitan Theater, theater patrons were treated to a live performance of exotic birds which were accompanied by their keepers from the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens before a screening of the film.[7]

The film was released on DVD and VHS on September 12, 2006. The DVD was accompanied with a filmmakers' commentary, five deleted scenes, bloopers, and a music video of Everlife's "Real Wild Child".[8] However, the VHS version was only an exclusive for the Disney Movie Club. On its first weekend, the film debuted at number one selling 787,779 DVD units.[9] At the end of its initial home video release, the film earned $43.2 million.[10] On November 21, 2006, the film was released on Blu-ray.[11]


Box office

During its opening weekend, the film grossed $9.6 million (equivalent to $14,509,343 in 2023) at the box office, ranking fourth behind Scary Movie 4, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and The Benchwarmers.[12] The Wild grossed $37.4 million (equivalent to $56,525,982 in 2023) in the United States and $64.9 million (equivalent to $98,089,204 in 2023) in other countries for a worldwide total of $102.3 million (equivalent to $154,615,187 in 2023).[6]

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 19% based on 112 reviews and an average rating of 4.50/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "With a rehashed plot and unimpressive animation, there's nothing wild about The Wild."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 47 out of 100 based on 24 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[14] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader wrote that "The CGI characters seem less like artwork than humans wearing animal suits, but despite the overall ugliness and sitcom timing, this has enough action, violence, and invention to keep kids amused."[16] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four. He praised the film's animation, but acknowledged the film's realism ventured towards the uncanny valley. He remarked that the "framing of some of the characters is too close; they hog the foreground and obscure the background. And the fur, hair and feathers on the creatures look so detailed, thanks to the wonders of CGI, that once again we're wandering toward the Uncanny Valley."[17]

Marc Savlov, reviewing for The Austin Chronicle, wrote "The animation is top-notch, and the film sports some of the most realistic and colorful fur, feathers, and hair this side of Fashion Week in Milan. However, The Wild feels as though much of its backstory, along with most of the good jokes, have been cut out along the circuitous path to your neighborhood cineplex, resulting in a finished film that will probably delight the under-10 set, while leaving everyone else marveling at how bored they are."[18] Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film two stars out of four writing: "Though dull, there are three reasons one might want to see the film: The computer animators' ability to realistically represent animal fur is nothing short of dazzling. So detailed are the lion's mane and squirrel's tail that younger viewers could mistake it for a petting zoo."[19]

Comparisons to Madagascar

Critics considered The Wild to be heavily derivative of the 2005 DreamWorks film Madagascar. Claudia Puig, reviewing for USA Today, suggested that The Wild was "the most wildly derivative animated movie in ages. It borrows its theme from Finding Nemo and Cats & Dogs, copies elements of The Jungle Book, The Lion King and All Dogs Go To Heaven and has a shockingly similar plot to Madagascar."[20] Similarly, Justin Chang of Variety felt "Samson's rescue mission directly channels the father-son Sturm und Drang of both The Lion King and Finding Nemo, though absent the former's powerhouse dramatics or the latter's eye-popping visual splendor." In summary, he wrote that "Uninspired character animation and obnoxious banter aside, The Wild is ultimately done in by the persistent stench of been-there-seen-that."[2]

Similarities include its setting in New York's Central Park Zoo, similar animals as characters, and the primary plot of introducing zoo animals to the wild. The name of the film and the tag line, "Start spreading the newspaper", a play on the opening line from the "Theme from New York, New York", were both used as integral plot points in Madagascar.

A few critics defended The Wild as the superior film. Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune wrote "The Wild is better, mostly because it has some truly spectacular animation and because the cast is just as likable—even, in some cases, preferable."[21] Mike Sage of the Peterborough This Week wrote "don't be mistaking this for a Madagascar rip off, when it was that sloppy DreamWorks turd that only managed to make it to theaters first because of corporate espionage".[22] Without addressing which film was the original concept, Tim Cogshell of Boxoffice Magazine simply wrote "for the adult who may very well have to experience this film, and who may have experienced Madagascar, The Wild is better. The animation is better, the jokes intended for your children are better, the jokes intended for you and not your children are much better, the songs are better, and it's more fun."[23]


This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (May 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

Jen Rudin and Corbin Bronson won the Artios Award for Best Animated Voice-Over Feature Casting[when?]. The film was nominated for the 2006 Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Worst Animated Film.


The musical score is composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri who also composed Lilo & Stitch.

The scores The scores "Tales from the Wild", "You Can't Roar", "Lost in the City", "To the Wild", "Alien Shores", "The Legend in Action", "The Mythology of Nigel", "The Ritual", and "Found Our Roar" are among the nine score tracks on the soundtrack. The soundtrack is available from Buena Vista Records. "Free Ride" by The Edgar Winter Group & "Come Sail Away" by Styx is featured in the trailers.

Video game

A video game for Game Boy Advance based on the film was released to coincide with the film, with Climax Studios developing the game and Buena Vista Games publishing. Players get to play as Benny the Squirrel and Samson the Lion as they go through New York, the sea, and Africa to find Ryan, while battling the wicked blue wildebeest Kazar. The video game is "E" rated (for "Everyone") by the ESRB, with a note for Mild Cartoon Violence.



  1. ^ Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution through the Walt Disney Pictures banner.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Wild (2006)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on January 5, 2017. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Chang, Justin (April 12, 2006). "Review: The Wild". Variety. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  3. ^ "THE WILD (U)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "The Wild (2006) - Steve "Spaz" Williams, Steve 'Spaz' Williams, Steve "Spaz" Williams, Steve Williams | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie".
  5. ^ "The Wild (2006) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  6. ^ a b "The Wild (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  7. ^ "El Capitan Theatre Goes Wild for Spring Break". Los Angeles Times. April 7, 2006. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  8. ^ "A Wild DVD". Animation World Network. September 14, 2006. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  9. ^ "United States DVD Sales Chart for Week Ending September 17, 2006". The Numbers. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  10. ^ "The Wild (2006)–Video Sales". The Numbers. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  11. ^ "The Wild Blu-ray".
  12. ^ Gray, Brandon (April 17, 2006). "'Scary Movie 4' Cracks Easter Record". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  13. ^ "The Wild (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  14. ^ "The Wild Reviews". Metacritic.
  15. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  16. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (April 27, 2006). "The Wild". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on April 23, 2006. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  17. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 13, 2006). "The Wild Movie Review & Film Summary (2006)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  18. ^ Savlov, Marc (April 14, 2006). "The Wild". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  19. ^ Rickey, Carrie. "Animated 'The Wild' an only mildly amusing critter caper". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  20. ^ Puig, Claudia (April 13, 2006). "'Wild': 'Madagascar' meets 'Lion King' meets 'Nemo'". USA Today. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  21. ^ Wilmington, Michael. "Movie review: 'The Wild'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on March 9, 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  22. ^ "It's no Lion King but Disney offering has its moments". April 19, 2006.
  23. ^ "The Wild". Archived from the original on December 16, 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013.