Onward is a 2020 American computer-animated urban fantasy adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film is directed by Dan Scanlon, produced by Kori Rae and written by Scanlon, Jason Headley, and Keith Bunin, and stars the voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer. Set in a suburban fantasy world, the film follows two elf brothers who set out on a quest to find an artifact that will temporarily bring back their dead father.
|Directed by||Dan Scanlon|
|Produced by||Kori Rae|
|Edited by||Catherine Apple|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios|
|Box office||$141.9 million|
Onward premiered at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival on February 21, 2020, and was theatrically released on March 6, 2020. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, and has grossed $141 million worldwide, becoming a box office bomb. It lost revenue against a budget that ranges upwards $200 million. The film also received backlash in several countries in Asia for its portrayal of a lesbian character. The film's financial shortcomings were a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the widespread closure of movie theaters. Like several other films released in the early months of 2020, it was made available digitally several weeks after its theatrical opening.
In a world inhabited by mythic creatures, magic was commonplace millennia ago, though difficult to master. After technological advances over the centuries, magic became obsolete and was largely discarded.
In the modern day, Ian Lightfoot is a teenaged elf struggling with self-confidence; his older brother, Barley, is an enthusiastic and impulsive role-playing gamer. On Ian's sixteenth birthday, the boys' mother, Laurel, gives her sons a gift from their father, Wilden, who died shortly before Ian was born: a magical staff, a rare Phoenix gem, and a letter describing a "visitation spell" that can resurrect Wilden for a single day. Ian succeeds in casting the spell but, interrupted by Barley, is unable to finish it. As a result, only the lower half of Wilden's body is reformed before the gem disintegrates. The brothers embark on a quest to acquire another gem and complete the spell before sunset, taking Barley's beloved van "Guinevere." Finding the boys gone, Laurel leaves to look for them.
Hoping to finding a map to another gem, Ian and Barley visit the Manticore's Tavern–once a gathering-place for would-be adventurers, now a family restaurant managed by the Manticore ("Corey"). While arguing with Ian over the map, Corey realizes how unfulfilling her life has become and loses her temper, accidentally setting fire to the restaurant and the map. The brothers' only clue to the gem is a children's menu suggesting "Raven's Point," a nearby mountain. Laurel later arrives at the scene and befriends Corey, who warns Laurel that the gem is guarded a curse that can only be defeated by an enchanted sword. After stealing the sword from a pawn shop, they set out in pursuit of Ian and Barley.
Traveling to the mountains, Barley proposes following what he calls the "Path of Peril", but Ian insists on taking the freeway. As they travel, Ian begins mastering magic spells that Barley remembers from his role-playing game. They narrowly escape a motorcycle gang of pixies at a gas station and have a tense encounter with the police, which the boys disguise themselves as Colt Bronco, during which Ian inadvertently reveals that he considers Barley to be a screw-up. To apologize, Ian agrees to follow the Path of Peril. Ian's self-confidence is boosted when he successfully uses a spell that allows him to walk across a bottomless pit, where unbeknownst to him, was walking without the rope that Barley tied him to over the second half of the pit. Bronco catches up to the boys and forces them to come home, Ian agrees, but as he starts the van, he drives away, leading to a wild police chase. When they are pursued by the police, Barley sacrifices Guinevere to cause a landslide, blocking their pursuers.
"Raven's Point" turns out to be a series of raven statues leading them into a cave. As they explore the cave, Barley confesses that he was too afraid to say goodbye to Wilden when he was dying. The brothers evade a series of traps, including a Gelatinous Cube that dissolves anything it touches. Emerging from the cave, they find themselves back in front of Ian's high school.
Ian lashes out at Barley for leading them on a wild goose chase and walks away with Wilden's legs to spend whatever time he has left with his father. Rereading his list of things he wished to do with Wilden, Ian realizes that Barley has been a father figure for him throughout his life and returns to make amends. Barley discovers the needed gem inside a fountain across the street from the school and retrieves it, unwittingly triggering the curse Corey spoke of: a stone dragon, built of pieces of the school building, bent on claiming the gem. Corey and Laurel arrive and distract the dragon long enough for Ian to finish casting the visitation spell, but they aren't able to defeat the dragon on their own. Ian runs off to fight it, allowing Barley to wish Wilden a final goodbye. He uses the magic skills he has learned to defeat the dragon by propelling Corey's sword into its heart. Trapped behind a pile of rubble, Ian sees Wilden's body briefly reappearing to talk to Barley. After Wilden dissipates, Barley tells Ian that their father is proud of him, and the brothers share a hug.
Some time later, as the world begins to rediscover the past's magical arts, the brothers set off on a new quest.
- Tom Holland as Ian Lightfoot, a teenage elf.
- Chris Pratt as Barley Lightfoot, Ian's older brother, who longs for a magical quest.
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Laurel Lightfoot, the widowed mother of Ian and Barley
- Octavia Spencer as "Corey" The Manticore, a manticore who is the proprietor of the Manticore's Tavern.
- Kyle Bornheimer as Wilden Lightfoot, Ian and Barley's late father. Ian and Barley's objective is to resurrect him for 24 hours.
- Mel Rodriguez as Colt Bronco, a centaur police officer and Laurel's boyfriend.
- Lena Waithe as Specter, a cyclops police officer.
- Ali Wong as Gore, a faun police officer.
- Grey Griffin as Dewdrop, a pixie and the leader of the Pixie Dusters biker gang.
- Tracey Ullman as Grecklin, a goblin pawn shop owner.
- Wilmer Valderrama as Gaxton, an elf and college friend of Wilden.
- George Psarras as Avel, an elf police officer.
- John Ratzenberger as Fenwick, a cyclops construction worker.
In July 2017, Pixar announced a "suburban fantasy world" film at the D23 Expo, with Dan Scanlon directing and Kori Rae producing. The film was inspired by the death of Scanlon's father, when he and his older brother were very young children, and their relationship with each other. He decided to write the story after hearing an audio clip of his father. On December 12, 2018, the title was revealed. In 2019, Jason Headley and Keith Bunin were hired to rewrite the screenplay and story.
On December 12, 2018, Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer were announced as starring in the film. While having recorded most of their lines separately, Holland and Pratt had some of their recording sessions together since, according to Scanlon, "they've worked together before and hung out together." Rae stated that Holland and Pratt improvised some of their lines while recording together. On December 17, 2019, Ali Wong, Lena Waithe and Mel Rodriguez joined the cast of the film. On February 18, 2020, Wilmer Valderrama, Tracey Ullman, Kyle Bornheimer, and George Psarras were revealed to have voice roles as well, and John Ratzenberger's appearance was officially confirmed.
|Onward: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by |
Mychael and Jeff Danna
|Released||February 28, 2020|
|Pixar soundtrack chronology|
|Mychael Danna chronology|
|Jeff Danna chronology|
On April 16, 2019, Mychael and Jeff Danna were revealed to be the film's composers. On February 12, 2020, Brandi Carlile revealed she recorded the song "Carried Me With You" for the film's end credits, co-written with Phil and Tim Hanseroth. The film's soundtrack was released on February 28, 2020.
All music is composed by Mychael and Jeff Danna, except where noted.
|1.||"Carried Me with You"||Brandi Carlile, Phil and Tim Hanseroth||Carlile||3:33|
|2.||"Quests of Yore"||0:52|
|3.||"The World Was Full of Wonder"||1:37|
|4.||"A Little Magic"||0:43|
|7.||"My Mighty Steed"||0:22|
|8.||"My Birthday Is Cancelled"||0:44|
|9.||"Wish I Could Spend the Day with You"||1:46|
|10.||"The Visitation Spell"||3:35|
|12.||"The Spell Only Lasts One Day"||0:56|
|13.||"Find Another Phoenix Gem"||0:49|
|14.||"Going on a Quest"||0:24|
|15.||"Laurel in Pursuit"||0:44|
|16.||"The Manticore's Tavern"||0:43|
|18.||"The Map to Raven's Point"||1:45|
|19.||"Two Teenage Elves"||0:38|
|23.||"The Guardian Curse"||0:42|
|26.||"Path of Peril"||0:41|
|30.||"The Trust Bridge"||1:20|
|31.||"Follow Your Gut"||0:52|
|32.||"Running from the Cops"||1:59|
|34.||"Just a Beat Up Old Van"||1:36|
|38.||"Barley's Last Memory of Dad"||0:58|
|39.||"Led Us to Our Victory!"||1:49|
|40.||"The Truth Comes Out"||0:39|
|41.||"Share My Life with Him"||3:24|
|42.||"Battling the Dragon"||3:03|
One storyboard scene featured Ian, Barley, and Wilden joining with a goat girl in the journey. Ian and the goat girl come across a booth hosted by three evil mermaids. The mermaids sing their mesmerizing song to lure the two into staying in one of three houses put for rent. Ian tries to silence them with the staff but the spell is too weak. When Ian and the goat girl are finally in a trance, the mermaids place them in one of the houses. The house they are in starts to sink into the ground.
According to effects supervisor Vincent Serritella, the animators wanted the spells to be "something that's abstract" but also "personify it", so they "had to converge on the idea of an image of magic, go back to the base level of the sequences and the spells, and what level [of complexity] would be given, and how it affects the environment". Director Dan Scanlon said that Ian's arc "was helpful to [the animators] because [they] could use that for all of the magic we designed". The animators choose to give the film's magic a unique style after studying several animated films featuring magic such as Fantasia, Aladdin, and Hercules. Animators wanted the film's magic to fit with its suburban setting.
Animators first developed the film's magic using hand-drawn animated drawings, before turning them into computer-animated effects, with Serritella saying that "[they] made shapes and graphic elements that really lend themselves to what’s happening in a 2D environment". Serritella also said that "the key" was mixing hand-drawn and computer animation, arguing that "[g]oing one way or the other didn’t work. Going too graphic didn’t fit into the world that the background and the characters were created in. And going too physical in an animated world seemed too real", so "[they] found the right balance" by turning hand-drawn animated graphics into "light objects" and giving them "[a] true volumetric, glowing atmosphere". He further added that the choreography during the "visitation spell" sequence "came directly from 2D", while they CG animation and lighting provided "depth perception". The film was completed on November 21, 2019.
Onward premiered at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival on February 21, 2020 and was theatrically released in the United States on March 6. A short film titled Playdate with Destiny, which is centered around Maggie Simpson of The Simpsons, appeared before the feature film. As the COVID-19 pandemic appeared to recede, the film was released in Australia and New Zealand on April 24, 2020, South Korea on June 17, 2020, Italy on August 19, 2020, and Japan on August 21, 2020..
Also the movie was released in 3D, 2D worldwide and in IMAX and Dolby Atmos in selected theatres.
Onward was released digitally on the night of March 20, 2020, and became available for Disney+ subscribers on April 3, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital date was just two weeks after the film's theatrical debut and before the end of the usual 90-day theatrical run. The announcement followed Disney's earlier than planned release of Frozen II on Disney+ as well as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on Digital HD in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over its first week of home release, the film was the sixth-most watched on Amazon Prime and second-most on the iTunes Store. The film was later released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray on May 19, 2020.
Onward grossed $61.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $79.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $141.4 million. The gross of the film was significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced most movie theaters to shut down within two weeks after its release.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside The Way Back and the wide expansion of Emma, and was projected to gross $45–50 million from 4,200 theaters in its opening weekend. The film held early advance screenings on February 29, making $650,000 from 470 theaters. It then grossed $12.1 million on its first day, the 6th, including $2 million from Thursday night previews. The film went on to debut to $39.1 million, topping the box office but marking the third-ever lowest start for a Pixar film. While the film remained in first in its second weekend, it dropped 73% to $10.5 million (the worst-ever second weekend for a Pixar film), and was part of the lowest grossing box office weekend since October 1998, with all films combining for just $55.3 million. In the film's third weekend, due to the mass theater closures around the country, it made $71,000 from 135 locations, mostly drive-in theaters.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 88% based on 332 reviews, with an average rating of 7.20/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "It may suffer in comparison to Pixar's classics, but Onward makes effective use of the studio's formula – and stands on its own merits as a funny, heartwarming, dazzlingly animated adventure." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 56 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale (tied with Cars 2 for the lowest score received by a Pixar film), and PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian rated the film three out of five stars, and called it "a likable family comedy that finds an easy rhythm without effort," though he felt that the movie's "attitude towards death" is not as radically powerful as in Coco. In a same star review Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said "It's no Toy Story—but the animation juggernaut's latest, about two elf brothers on a quest, is still worth your while." Reviewer James Berardinelli praised the film's originality and emotional weight and called it "engaging and enjoyable," adding "there’s something here for everyone," though concluded it is not the next Disney/Pixar classic. Ben Travis of Empire gave the film five out of five stars, and wrote, "Pixar returns with a great big power-chord of a movie—heart-pumping, resonant, and positively harmonious."
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called Onward a step back for Pixar, giving it two out of four stars. He said, "The story fluctuates between the uninspired and the just plain weird and then gets even weirder." While he praised the animation and said that the movie "begins with an intriguing premise," he concluded that it "doesn't come close to fully fleshing out the possibilities."
|2020||BMI Film & TV Awards||Film Music||Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna||Won|
|People's Choice Awards||The Family Movie of 2020||Onward||Won|
|Dublin International Film Festival||Feature Film||Won|
|Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Houston Film Critics Society Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society Awards||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|2021||Academy Awards||Best Animated Feature||Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae||Nominated|
|American Cinema Editors Awards||Best Edited Animated Feature Film||Catherine Apple||Nominated|
|Annie Awards||Best Animated Feature||Kori Rae||Nominated|
|Writing in an Animated Feature Production||Dan Scanlon, Jason Headley and Keith Bunin||Nominated|
|Editorial in an Animated Feature Production||Catherine Apple, Anna Wolitzky and Dave Suther||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production||Shaun Chacko||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production||Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production||Noah Klocek, Sharon Calahan, Huy Nguyen, Bert Berry and Paul Conrad||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production||Tom Holland||Nominated|
|Art Directors Guild Awards||Excellence in Production Design for a Animated Film||Noah Klocek||Nominated|
|Austin Film Critics Association Awards||Best Animated Film||Onward||Nominated|
|British Academy Film Awards||Best Animated Film||Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae||Nominated|
|Cinema Audio Society Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture – Animated||Vincent Caro, Doc Kane, Michael Semanick, Juan Peralta, Brad Haehnel and Scott Curtis||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Super Awards||Best Animated Movie||Onward||Nominated|
|Best Voice Actor In An Animated Movie||Tom Holland||Nominated|
|Best Voice Actress In An Animated Movie||Octavia Spencer||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Onward||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Best Song Written for Visual Media||"Carried Me with You" – Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth||Nominated|
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards||Best Original Score in an Animated Film||Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna||Nominated|
|Best Original Song in an Animated Film||"Carried Me with You" – Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth||Nominated|
|Best Soundtrack Album||Onward||Nominated|
|Motion Picture Sound Editors Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Animation||Shannon Mills, Nia Hansen, Chris Gridley, Josh Gold, David C. Hughes, Samson Neslund, Kimberly Patrick, Christopher Flick, Steve Orlando, Erich Stratmann, Shelley Roden and John Roesch||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Animated Movie||Onward||Nominated|
|Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie||Chris Pratt||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Animated Film||Onward||Pending|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature||Dan Scanlon, Kori Rae, Sanjay Bakshi and Vincent Serritella||Nominated|
|Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature||Kristopher Campbell, Jonas Jarvers, Rob Jensen and Jacob Kuenzel (for Dad Pants)||Nominated|
|Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature||Eric Andraos, Laura Grieve, Nick Pitera and Michael Rutter (for Swamp Gas)||Nominated|
|Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature||Dave Hale, Jonah Blue Laird, Stephen Marshall and Ricardo Nadu||Nominated|
Ban and censorship
The film was banned in the Arab countries of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, as one female cyclops police officer character in the film named Specter (voiced by Lena Waithe) briefly indicates that she is a lesbian. The scene in question is a brief scene in which a simulacrum of Colt Bronco is lamenting about how Ian and Barley Lightfoot do not respect him as a father figure. Specter replies to him by saying, "It's not easy being a new parent—my girlfriend's daughter got me pulling my hair out, okay?" Homosexual acts are criminalized in the four countries, which are predominantly Muslim, although Kuwait does not criminalize female homosexual acts. The ban is not universal, and the film was screened in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Egypt, albeit the line was changed in the Arabic-language dubbing to "my sister's daughter".
In Russia, where the gay propaganda law officially criminalizes the dissemination of LGBT-related content to minors under 18, the Russian dub, handled by Disney Character Voices International, changed the line to "It's not easy being a new parent—my partner's daughter got me pulling my hair out, okay?" The Russian dub also avoided referring to Specter with gender-specific pronouns. The scene was also changed in Poland and Hungary.
In January 2020, San Francisco tattoo artist Sweet Cicely Daniher filed a copyright lawsuit against Disney, Pixar, and Onward producer Kori Rae. In September 2018, Pixar rented Daniher's "Vanicorn," a van decorated with a unicorn-themed mural, for use at the LA Auto Show in 2019. She learned about the production of Onward in May 2019 and, after seeing images of the van used by Ian and Barley Lightfoot in the film, came to believe that Pixar had copied the design of the Vanicorn in violation of her rental agreement with the company, as well as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Visual Artists Rights Act, and the California Artists Protection Act. She sought in her suit to prohibit distribution of the film and any infringing advertisement or merchandise.
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