Banjo the Woodpile Cat is a 2013 animated musical adventure comedy film directed by D.A. Nichols and Abbey Thickson and produced by Tom Rosenberg, Maurice Kanbar, and Phil Nibbelink, with the screenplay by Douglas Langdale, Erica Rivinoja, Audel LaRoque, and Mike Reiss, with an original story by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, and a new storyline and plot made by Nichols and Thickson.
Serving as a feature-length adaptation and based on the 1979 animated short film of the same name by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, along with the addition of a new plot and a new storyline, the film stars Matthew Lintz, James Corden, Allison Janney, Jodelle Ferland, Alyson Stoner, Anthony Anderson, Kristin Chenoweth, Mark Hamill, Fred Tatasciore, Diedrich Bader, John DiMaggio, McKenna Grace, and Kyla Rae Kowalewski.
Production on the film began back in 2009, with D.A. Nichols and Abbey Thickson announcing that they wanted to make a Banjo film that would "transcend generations" among fans of Don Bluth's films. The film is said to have taken place after the events of the short.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 2013, and was theatrically released in the United States on February 8, 2013, by 20th Century Fox. The film received generally favorable reviews, with many critics considering it a "spiritual successor" to the original 1979 animated short, as well as praising the animation, story, character development, and voice acting.
A sequel to the film was announced in 2015, under the title of Banjo the Woodpile Cat 2, is scheduled to be released on September 6, 2019.
Banjo (Matthew Lintz) is a kitten who lives in a farm in Payson, Utah, with his sisters, Emily (McKenna Grace) and Jean (Kyla Rae Kowalewski), his mother (Kristin Chenoweth), and his father (Anthony Anderson).
One morning, he decides to start the day by chasing the chickens (like he did in the short), until he is told on by his sisters. His mother nicely tells them to leave the chickens alone. She then suggests Banjo that he plays with his sisters, to which Banjo accepts, and so he, Emily, and Jean play a game of tag.
That evening, the cats decide to watch TV in the house. While this occurs, Banjo notices a chicken looking at him. Papa Cat tells him not to look at it and to look at the TV instead. The cats start laughing at the funny scenes, all of a sudden, the TV suddenly explodes.
Later that night, the kittens are asleep when Banjo suddenly starts crying. Mama Cat runs into the room to calm him down. To help get him back to sleep, Mama Cat sings a sweet lullaby to him.
The next morning, the cats head on down to Salt Lake City where they find a nice apartment complex room in the second floor. On the third floor, Banjo goes up and meets Crazy Legs (James Corden), along with his white mouse companion, Tina (Allison Janney). When Crazy tells him of a cool play place for kittens, Banjo agrees to go check it out.
On the way down, Banjo meets a beautiful white kitten named Brinley (Jodelle Ferland), who comes along.
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- Matthew Lintz as Banjo
- James Corden as Crazy Legs, Banjo's best friend.
- Allison Janney as Tina, a white mouse who helps Banjo
- Jodelle Ferland as Brinley, Banjo's love interest.
- Alyson Stoner as Tundra, a white cat who is close friends with Brinley.
- Rob Schneider as Rocko, the film's antagonist.
- Danny Trejo as Itchy, Rocko's assistant.
- Anthony Anderson as Papa Cat
- Kristin Chenoweth as Mama Cat
- Raven-Symone as Zazu, the leader of the Cat Sisters
- Adrienne Bailon as Marina
- Sabrina Bryan as Cleo
- Kiely Williams as Ali, the newest member of the Cat Sisters.
- McKenna Grace and Kyla Rae Kowalewski as Emily and Jean, Banjo's two sisters.
- Gina Rodriguez as Carmen, Brinley's mother
- Madison Lintz and Mackenzie Lintz as Darlene and Danielle, two twin kittens who help Banjo and Crazy Legs along the way.
- William H. Macy as David, Brinley's father
- Natt Wolff as Peter, Brinley's younger brother
- Maurice LaMarche as Ricky
- Mark Hamill as Harry
- Fred Tatasciore as Boris
- Brian T. Delaney as Tyron
- Diedrich Bader as Willie
- John DiMaggio as Ruffles
- Scott Whyte as Zion
- Stephen Stanton as Vijay
- Ashley Albert
- Harsha Amaravadi
- Emeline Atwood
- Maggie Baird
- Rajia Baroudi
- Samantha Boucher
- Jay Brosnan
- Helene Cardona
- June Christopher
- Jim Conroy
- Rosario Corso
- David Cowgill
- Vicki Davis
- Elisa Gabrielli
- Taylor Garron
- Liza Marie Giangrande
- Jean Gilpin
- Jackie Gonneau
- Nicholas Guest
- Jason Harris
- Luisa Leschin
- Susan Leslie
- Brian Scott McFadden
- Julia Millstein
- Dina Morrone
- Joey Naber
- Bridget O'Sullivan
- Bethany Owens
- Talia Patapoutian
- Ashley Peldon
- Rubye Peyser
- Chrystee Pharris
- Chris Phillips
- Jacqueline Piñol
- Peter Pamela Rose
- Jason Grant Smith
- Byron Thames
- Shreya Viswanathan
- Julia McIlvaine
- Nina Wadekar
- Ruth Zalduondo
In January 2009, during the production of the film Pinkalicious, D.A. Nichols and Abbey Thickson proposed a full-length feature film adaptation of the 1979 animated short film Banjo the Woodpile Cat. While discussing the film, they stated that they had seen the film, and they wanted to make the film so that it would “transcend generations” among fans of Bluth’s films. At the time, NicThic encouraged everyone at the company to come up with ideas for more animated features. Nichols developed Thickson's concept into a new storyline for the film before pitching it to NicThic. Nichols described the pitch as "a modernized version of Rabbit's Night Out". 20th Century Fox and NicThic Productions announced the film, on June 4, 2009. Audel LaRoque was contracted to write the script for the film, along with Douglas Langdale, Erica Rivinoja, and Mike Reiss, with original creators Don Bluth and Gary Goldman providing the story and also being supervisors. Regency Enterprises was also confirmed to be producing the film, with Arnon Milchan serving as executive producer. In September 2009, NicThic announced that the film was expected to see a 2012 release. It was also announced that Tom Rosenberg, Maurice Kanbar, and Phil Nibbelink were brought in to produce the film.
When asked about what was going to be in the film, Nichols and Thickson stated on their blog in November 2009 that with the addition of a new storyline and plot, several new characters were set to be added into the script. Among the new characters included a white mouse named Tina, who serves as a companion for Crazy Legs, a white kitten named Brinley, the love interest for Banjo, two kittens named Darlene and Danielle, as well as the return of Rocko, the original villain from the scrapped Banjo feature.
From January to mid-June 2010, open casting calls for the film were held. Jacob Hopkins was considered for Banjo. He screen tested for the role and was interested, but when Nichols and Thickson were unable to make contact with him, he took it as a "no". In addition to Hopkins, Nicky Jones was also considered for Banjo, alongside Jonah Bobo, Max Charles, and Logan Grove. Nichols and Thickson took the role to Matthew Lintz, who would later appear in the film Pixels, as well as voice Gold Pelt in the 2017 Top Cat film.
For the role of Crazy Legs, Ian McKellen, Matthew Lillard, Will Sasso, and Danny McBride were considered, but James Corden won the role for his natural comedy. Allison Janney joined the cast in April 2010 to voice a new character named Tina, a white mouse who helps Banjo and Crazy Legs. Another new character, named Brinley, the love interest for Banjo, was offered to Dakota Fanning, but she turned down the role and it went to Jodelle Ferland. Rob Schneider joined the cast to voice Rocko, the film's antagonist, while Alyson Stoner stepped in to voice Tundra. In July 2010, it was announced that Lintz, Corden, Janney, Ferland, and Stoner were cast, along with other cast members including Anthony Anderson, Kristin Chenoweth, McKenna Grace, Kyla Rae Kowalewski, Gina Rodriguez, William H. Macy, and Natt Wolff.
For the Cat Sisters, Raven-Symone, Adrienne Bailon, Sabrina Bryan, and Kiely Williams were cast in the roles of Zazu, Marina, Cleo, and Ali, the newest member.
The animation for the film was handled by NicThic Cinemation Studios.
On August 1, 2010, it was confirmed that Mychael Danna would compose the score along with his brother, Jeff Danna. The two would later compose the score for Disney/Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, Warner Animation Group's Storks, and the YouTube Red film The Thinning II.
Banjo the Woodpile Cat premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on January 17, 2013. The American release followed on February 8, 2013. On February 10, 2011, NicThic set the release date to April 20, 2012. In November 2011, the release date was moved to February 8, 2013, alongside Identity Thief and Side Effects, with It's the Wolf taking its spot.
The film was shown alongside Surf Shack, a short film directed and written by Nichols and Thickson, based on the Fox's Island films.
The official teaser trailer was released on April 13, 2012, and was shown before The Three Stooges, The Cabin in the Woods, The Lucky One, and Think Like a Man.
The first theatrical trailer was released on July 6, 2012, and was shown before Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Rock of Ages, Brave, Magic Mike, Plucky Chicken, Ted, Ice Age: Continential Drift, The Dark Knight Rises, Step Up Revolution, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.
The second theatrical trailer was released on September 7, 2012, and was shown in front of films such as The Bourne Legacy, Hope Springs, The Expendables 2, ParaNorman, Lawless, Hotel Transylvania, Frankenweenie, and Pitch Perfect.
TV spots began to air between January and February 2013.
Banjo the Woodpile Cat was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD on May 7, 2013, by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. On March 11, 2014, the film was released alongside the 1979 short film as part of its 35th Anniversary Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray.