WALKING WITH DINOSAURS (rated PG for animated action sequences; and with a running time of 80 min.) presented a unique creative challenge to its filmmakers, who had to project themselves back in time - 70 million years - to what is now the U.S. state of Alaska, in the Late Cretaceous Period. Then, they had to imagine the myriad adventures a lovable young dinosaur might encounter on an odyssey unlike any other.
"WALKING WITH DINOSAURS is a story about a dinosaur’s life and adventures, and we’ve gone to the ends of the world to film it!" says director Barry Cook, whose credits include the animated feature Mulan, co-directing the animated feature Arthur Christmas and working in a variety of key creative capacities on Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and TRON. Now, with WALKING WITH DINOSAURS, Cook inhabits a world far away and long, long ago - and makes it come spectacularly alive.
Also taking on directing duties is Neil Nightingale, a filmmaker admired around the world for his ability to capture nature’s wonders in ways you’ve never experienced. "Life’s fundamentals have not really changed since the time of the dinosaurs," says Nightingale, who is Creative Director at BBC Earth, where he spearheads the development of new forms of commercial content.
"Thankfully, we don’t face perilous pursuit by hungry gorgosaurs, but audiences can identify with Patchi’s quest for survival. We meet him as a hatchling and watch him learn to navigate his environment and face the primary challenges of finding enough to eat, evading predators and rising above his rivals in order to win a mate. These are things we can all recognize and empathize with. Audiences will really get behind Patchi and root for this underdog hero to triumph."
WALKING WITH DINOSAURS points to our continuing fascination, if not obsession, with creatures that have been extinct for millions of years. The T. rex and the Gorgosaurus are among the most fearsome predators to have ever walked the Earth, but kids (of all ages) can’t get enough of them. Dinosaurs spark our imaginations as much as any fictional creation does.
"Kids love dinosaurs, and they’re going to love WALKING WITH DINOSAURS because it feels so real, has lots of humor and fun," says John Leguizamo, who voices Alex, a prehistoric parrot who is Patchi’s best pal. "Plus, they’ll love the camaraderie between Patchi and Alex."
Dinosaurs combine the best of two worlds: they’re scary, but because dinos haven’t been around for millions of years, they’re non-threatening. Nightingale believes our enduring obsession with them is here to stay. "Dinosaurs are the most amazing creatures to have ever existed on our planet. In four and a half billion years of Earth’s existence, there have been no creatures that are more dramatic or terrifying. Dinosaurs fascinate us because they represent a sort of safe danger. You can be scared of them but not too scared because they are long gone. They’re not going to come out from under the bed or pounce on you in the dark! And it is not just dinosaurs we are talking about; it is The Age of Dinosaurs. It is amazing to know that the world we now live in, the skies above us and the stars we see were once their realm - incredible animals now lost to pre-history."
"In bringing WALKING WITH DINOSAURS to the big screen, we wanted to transport audiences back to a real world, to meet dinosaurs that truly existed and to immerse audiences in that world," Nightingale continues. "For a big motion picture experience it’s also vital to have a strong and emotionally engaging story. So we used what we know about Late Cretaceous Alaskan dinosaurs as inspiration for a fictional, character-driven story we knew would entertain families."
—taken from the production notes of Walking With Dinosaurs, courtesy of 20th Century Fox films