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Magic Tree House
Magic Tree House.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Matthew O'Callaghan
Steve Pink
Produced by Jinko Gotoh
Audrey Wells
Stephen Swofford
Screenplay by Steve Pink
Story by Elliot M. Bour
Saul Andrew Blinkoff
Steve Pink
Based on Magic Tree House
by Mary Pope Osborne
Starring Owen Laramore
Lulu Wilson
Dick Van Dyke
Danny DeVito
Sandra Oh
Masi Oka
BD Wong
Cedric the Entertainer
Kathy Najimy
Music by Hans Zimmer
John Powell
Edited by Pam Ziegenhagen
H. Lee Peterson
William J. Caparella
Production
companies
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Wonder
Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date August 24, 2018 (United
States)
Running time 117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $200 million
Box office $1.373 billion


Magic Tree House is a 2018 American computer-animated action comedy film produced by Walt Disney Wonder Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Matthew O'Callaghan and Steve Pink from a screenplay by Pink, it is loosely based on the best-selling book series of the same name by Mary Pope Osborne and features the voices of Owen Laramore, Lulu Wilson, Dick Van Dyke, Danny DeVito, Sandra Oh, Masi Oka, BD Wong, Cedric the Entertainer, and Kathy Najimy. In the film, Jack and Annie set out to become Master Librarians by visiting China and collecting three orbs. During their mission, Jack and Annie are certified as a true warriors destined to defeat an evil overlord. It is the first Walt Disney Wonder Studios film animated with a new proprietary animation system called Alakazam.

Magic Tree House saw a theatrical release on August 24, 2018 in the United States. It was the last Walt Disney Wonder Studios film with the involvements of Audrey Wells and John Lasseter before Wells' death and Lasseter's exit from Disney. The film received acclaim from critics and audiences for its more complex animating skills, vocal performances (particularly those of Laramore, Wilson, Van Dyke, and DeVito), and its faithfulness to the source material. It was also commercially successful, grossing $1.373 billion worldwide against its $200 million production budget. It is the second highest-grossing film of 2018, the highest-grossing animated of 2018, the ninth animated film to pass $1 billion, and Walt Disney Wonder Studios' highest-grossing non-Disney In The House film. At the 91st Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Picture and Best Animated Feature; It was also the fourth fully animated film in history to be nominated for Best Picture, after Beauty and the Beast, Up, and Toy Story 3.

Plot

In Frog Creek Woods, Pennsylvania, Jack (Owen Laramore) surprises his younger sister Annie (Lulu Wilson) with a book for her ninth birthday. Later, they visit the Magic Tree House. Morgan la Fey (Kathy Najimy) assigns them to a mission to bring her three power orbs. Jack and Annie point at the China book and wish to go there, making the tree house spin faster and faster until everything becomes absolutely still.

They enter a cave, where they retrieve the first Orb and spot someone they learn is an overlord named Zigness (Danny DeVito), who plots the get the orbs and rule over China. Jack and Annie arrive at Kretschmann's (Dick Van Dyke) valley on Mount Lu, where they grab the second orb and unintentionally ends up in the midst of a tournament that demonstrates the one destined to defeat Zigness. To the astonishment of everyone present, Annie and Jack most of all, Kretschmann's mentor and friend Nepcar (Cedric the Entertainer) proclaims the two kids as the chosen martial arts warriors.

Unwilling to accept Nepcar's decision and believing it to be an accident, Kretschmann tries to dispose of Jack and Annie with a training regime. Jack and Annie successfully overcome the regime, which impresses Kretschmann, Phillip (BD Wong), Kyle (Masi Oka), and Asia (Sandra Oh). That night, Asia tells Jack and Annie that Zigness was found by Krestschmann as an infant and showed talent in martial arts as he grew older. However, when Nepcar denied him the three Orbs, he betrayed Kretschmann and tried to take the first Orb by force. Though Nepcar was able to stop him, Zigness' betrayal caused Kretschmann to become cold and distant.

Meanwhile, Kretschmann's adviser, a Chinese sparrowhawk named Bazahr informs him that Zigness has escaped from jail. In a pep talk, Nepcar encourages a horrified Kretschmann to keep believing in Jack, then passes on to the heavens and evaporates into a stream of peach blossoms. After successfully training Jack and Annie, Kretschmann decides Jack and Annie are ready to receive a scroll, but its blank, reflective surfaces does not reveal any powerful secrets. Jack and Annie confess that the three Orbs were to make them Master Librarians. Feeling lied to, Kretschmann and his students eject the two kids.

Jack and Annie prepare to head back to the Magic Tree House, they learn that the true message of the scroll is believing in yourself. They return to Mount Lu, only to find Kretschmann injured and defeated by Zigness. Zigness, greedy for power and unable to understand the scroll's message, attacks Jack and Annie. Jack and Annie trounce their adversary with their martial arts skills and use the Wuxi Finger Hold to vanquish Zigness. With Zigness defeated and the three orbs collected, Kretschmann, Nepcar, Asia, Phillip, and Kyle praise Jack and Annie as true masters, and allow them to leave in the Magic Tree House.

Back in Frog Creek Woods, Jack and Annie leave the three orbs out for Morgan, hold hands, and head home. The next morning, Jack and Annie meet up with Morgan at the Frog Creek Woods Library and become Master Librarians.

Cast

  • Owen Laramore as Jack, a ten-and-a-half-year-old boy and Annie's older brother.
  • Lulu Wilson as Annie, a nine-year-old girl and Jack's younger sister
  • Danny DeVito as Overlord Zigness, Kretschmann's aggressive and zealous arch-nemesis and former student and adoptive son.
  • Dick Van Dyke as Sensei Kretschmann, the well-meaning but stubborn sensei of Asia, Phillip, and Kyle with a critical manner.
  • Sandra Oh as Asia, a ninja and the only female member of the trio.
  • Masi Oka as Kyle, a ninja and one of the two male members of the trio.
  • BD Wong as Phillip, a ninja and one of the two male members of the trio.
  • Cedric the Entertainer as Nepcar, Kretschmann's friend and mentor who chooses Jack as the warrior that was destined to stop Zigness.
  • Kathy Najimy as Morgan la Fey, the owner of the Magic Tree House.

Box office

In the United States, Magic Tree House was released alongside The Happytime Murders and A.X.L., and was projected to gross $134 million in its opening weekend. It grossed $679 million in the United States and Canada, and $694 million in other territories. It ended its theatrical run on November 27, 2018, having to have grossed $1.373 billion worldwide, and, produced on a $200 million budget, it was a commercial success at the box office, exceeding Osbourne's expectations and impressing Disney.

Critical response

Magic Tree House received universal acclaim from critics. The film holds a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 240 reviews. The consensus reads, "Magic Tree House retains the spirit of Mary Pope Osborne's best-selling series while simultaneously proving itself among Disney's best animated films". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 96 out of 100 based on 50 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale.

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