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Rise of the Guardians

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Title: Rise of the Guardians  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Chris Pine, William Joyce (writer), Visual Effects Society Awards 2012, Lee Je-hoon, 2013 in home video
Collection: 2010S Fantasy Films, 2012 3D Films, 2012 American Animated Films, 2012 Computer-Animated Films, 2012 Films, American 3D Films, American Adventure Films, American Animated Films, American Children's Fantasy Films, American Christmas Films, American Epic Films, American Fantasy Films, American Films, Auro 11.1 Films, Directorial Debut Films, Dolby Atmos Films, Dreamworks Animation Animated Films, Easter Fiction, English-Language Films, Epic Films, Film Scores by Alexandre Desplat, Films About Children, Films Featuring Anthropomorphic Characters, Films Using Computer-Generated Imagery, Imax Films, Paramount Pictures Animated Films
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Rise of the Guardians

Rise of the Guardians
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Ramsey
Produced by Christina Steinberg
Nancy Bernstein
Screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on The Guardians of Childhood 
by William Joyce
Starring Chris Pine
Alec Baldwin
Hugh Jackman
Isla Fisher
Jude Law
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Edited by Joyce Arrastia
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
Running time 97 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $145 million[3]
Box office $306.9 million[4]

Rise of the Guardians is a 2012 American 3D computer-animated fantasy film based on William Joyce's The Guardians of Childhood book series and The Man in the Moon short film by Joyce and Reel FX. Peter Ramsey directed the film, while Joyce and Guillermo del Toro were executive producers with the voice talents of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, and Jude Law. Produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures, it was released on November 21, 2012 and received mixed to positive reviews, but it was a Box office failure, contributing to a studio writedown of $83 million for the quarter and the layoffs of 350 employees.

Set about 300 years after the book series, the film tells a story about Guardians Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman, who enlist Jack Frost to stop Pitch Black from engulfing the world in darkness. The film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film.[5] This is the last film by DreamWorks Animation to be distributed by Paramount Pictures.[6]


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Soundtrack 4
  • Release 5
    • Home media 5.1
  • Reception 6
    • Critical response 6.1
    • Box office 6.2
    • Accolades 6.3
  • Video game 7
  • Possible sequels 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The spirit of winter Jack Frost is lifted with amnesia from the depths of a frozen pond by the Man in the Moon only to discover no one can see, hear, or touch him. Three hundred years later at the North Pole, North, better known as Santa Claus, becomes aware that Pitch Black, the Boogeyman, has returned and is threatening the children of the world. After alerting fellow Guardians the Tooth Fairy (Tooth for short), the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman/Sandy of the problem, North learns that Jack Frost has been selected by the Man in the Moon as the newest Guardian. Jack Frost, frustrated and hurt by centuries of isolation, declines the invitation, but North persuades Jack Frost to cooperate by explaining their mission and the looming threat.

Meanwhile, Pitch Black and his Nightmare minions raid Tooth's palace, taking all the children's teeth and the memories stored within. He also captures Tooth's helper fairies except for a single fairy named Baby Tooth who is rescued by Jack Frost. Resentful that he himself is not believed in, Pitch plans to destroy children's faith in the Guardians and thereby weaken them by preventing Tooth from doing her work. To avert this, the Guardians travel the world collecting teeth, and promise Jack that when they find Pitch, they will help him regain his own baby teeth and through them the memories of his past life. On the expedition, a young boy named Jamie Bennett is delighted to discover the Guardians in his room. He believes in all of them except for Jack, whom he cannot see. Pitch learns of the Guardians' resistance and attacks Jack and Sandy. Despite Jack's efforts to save him, Sandy is overwhelmed and seemingly killed by Pitch.

The dejected Guardians rally by helping Bunnymund prepare his eggs for Easter. Although slightly complicated by the intrusion of Jamie's sister Sophie, the preparation goes smoothly. Jack takes Sophie home, but afterward a mysterious female voice lures him to Pitch's lair where Tooth's fairies and the teeth are being held. Pitch keeps him distracted with the promise of his teeth's memories, while Jack's absence allows the Nightmares to raid Bunnymund's domain, shattering all the eggs, and destroying the children's belief in the Easter Bunny.

After facing the disappointed Guardians, a despondent Jack departs in disgrace to Antarctica. There, Pitch tempts him to join forces, but Jack refuses, claiming that he wants to be loved, not feared. In retaliation for rejecting the offer, Pitch threatens to kill Baby Tooth unless Jack relinquishes his staff, which is the source of his power. Pitch breaks the staff and throws Jack and Baby Tooth down into an ice crevasse out of anger, where Baby Tooth convinces Jack to unlock his memories in an attempt to counter his despair. In doing this, he learns that long ago, he was a mortal teenage boy who died saving his little sister from falling through the ice of the pond which he awoke from at the film's start. Because of that sacrifice, the Man in the Moon changed him into a spirit and chose him as a Guardian. Inspired by the revelation, Jack restores his staff and returns to help the Guardians.

Due to the power of Pitch's Nightmares, only one child (Jamie) still believes. Jack races to the boy first and strengthens Jamie's wavering faith in the Guardians, but by creating snow in Jamie's room, he causes him to believe that Jack Frost is real. Jamie is finally able to see him much to Jack's delighted surprise. The weakened Guardians arrive to confront Pitch, while Jamie gathers his friends to support them. Pitch's powers prove no match against the children's faith, which allows the restored Guardians to battle Pitch. Sandy is resurrected by this belief and joins the fight, leaving Pitch defeated, the children's faith restored, and Jack with believers of his own. Upon seeing that he is no longer believed because of his defeat, Pitch attempts to escape, but his Nightmares track down his fear and drag him away into his lair.

At this victory, Jack accepts his place as the Guardian of Fun and resolves to protect the world's children with his new friends.


  • Chris Pine as Jack Frost, the spirit of winter.[7] Jack Frost is a teenage hellion who enjoys creating mischief and has no interest in being bound by rules or obligations; he just wants to spread his winter magic for the sake of fun, but also wants to be believed in. At the end of the film, Jack becomes the Guardian of Fun.
  • Alec Baldwin as North (Santa Claus), the leader of the guardians,[7] and the Guardian of Wonder. He lives at the North Pole in the Ice Castle and is served by loyal North Pole natives, the Yetis (who built the castle and workshop) and the Christmas Elves. He carries a Russian accent/culture persona.[8]
  • Hugh Jackman as Bunnymund (Easter Bunny), the fabled keeper and bringer of Easter eggs and the Guardian of Hope. He has an Australian accent.[7]
  • Isla Fisher as Tooth Fairy or Tooth for short, the mythical tooth collector and the Guardian of Memories.[7] Tooth is part human and part hummingbird. Assisted by mini fairies that are split-off extensions of herself, she collects the children's teeth, which hold their most precious memories. Tooth stores them in her palace and returns memories when they are needed the most. "[9]
  • Jude Law as Pitch Black (The Boogeyman), the essence of fear and the Nightmare King.[7]
  • Dakota Goyo as Jamie Bennett, a child who has not given up on believing in the Guardians.[10] He also has a little sister named Sophie who wants to play with them.
  • The Sandman, or Sandy for short, the Guardian of Dreams is the oldest of the Guardians[11] and the first Guardian chosen by Man in the Moon.[12] He does not speak, but communicates through sand images that he conjures above his head.[13]


In 2005, William Joyce and Reel FX launched a joint venture, Aimesworth Amusements,[14] to produce CG-animated feature films,[15] one of which was set to be The Guardians of Childhood, based on Joyce's idea.[16] The film was not realized, but they did create a short animated film, The Man in the Moon, directed by Joyce, which introduced the Guardians idea,[16] and served as an inspiration for the film.[2]

Early in 2008, Joyce sold the film rights to DreamWorks Animation,[17] after the studio assured him it would respect his vision for the characters and that he would be involved with the creative process.[18] In November 2009, it was revealed that DreamWorks had hired Peter Ramsey to make his feature debut as director of what was then titled The Guardians, and playwright David Lindsay-Abaire to script.[19] Joyce acted as a co-director for the first few years, but left this position after the death of his daughter Mary Katherine,[17] who died of a brain tumor.[18] Joyce continued to assist as an executive producer, while Ramsey took over full directing, making him the first African American to direct a big-budget CG animated film.[20] As with some previous DreamWorks films, Guillermo del Toro came on board as an executive producer. Present almost from the beginning,[21] he was able to help shape the story, character design, theme and structure of the film.[22] He said he was proud that the filmmakers were making parts of the film "dark and moody and poetic," and expressed hope this might "set a different tone for family movies, for entertainment movies."[21] The final title, Rise of the Guardians was announced in early 2011, along with the first cast.[7]

Roger Deakins, the cinematographer who had already worked on the previous DreamWorks' film, How to Train Your Dragon, advised on the lighting to achieve its real look. He selected photographic references for color keys, and during the production gave notes on contrast, saturation, depth of field and light intensity.[23] The film contains a lot of special effects, particularly the volumetric particles for depicting Sandman and Pitch.[24] For this, DreamWorks Animation developed OpenVDB, a more efficient tool and format for manipulating and storing volume data, like smoke and other amorphous materials. OpenVDB had been already used on Puss in Boots and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, and was released in August 2012 for free as an open source project with a hope to become an industry standard.[25]

Although the film is based on the Joyce's book series, it contains differences from the books. The book series, begun in 2011, explains the origins of the characters, while the film takes place about 300 years after the books, and shows how the characters function in present time. Joyce explained, "Because I don't want people to read the book and then go see the movie and go, 'Oh, I like the book better,' and I also didn't want them to know what happens in the movie. And I also knew that during the progress of film production, a lot of things can change. So I wanted to have a sort of distance, so we were able to invoke the books and use them to help us figure out the world of the movie, but I didn't want them to be openly competitive to each other."[17] The idea for the Guardians came from Joyce's daughter, who asked him "if he thought Santa Claus had ever met the Easter Bunny." The film includes a dedication to her,[18] as well a song, "Still Dream," sung over the end credits.[26]

Originally, the film was set to be released on November 2, 2012, but DreamWorks Animation pushed the film to November 21, 2012 to avoid competition with Pixar's upcoming film Monsters University, which in turn had been pushed to November 2, 2012 to avoid competition with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.[27] Monsters University was then pushed to June 21, 2013, with Wreck-It Ralph taking its place.[28]


French composer Alexandre Desplat composed the original music for the film, which was released on November 13, 2012 by Varèse Sarabande. The score was recorded in London at Abbey Road Studios and Air Studios, and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, with a choral contribution by London Voices. David Lindsay-Abaire wrote the lyrics for the end-credit song, "Still Dream," which was performed by soprano Renée Fleming.[29] Stravinsky's Firebird Suite can also be heard during the scene where North first appears. This film marks the first time that a DreamWorks Animation film has not been composed by Hans Zimmer or a member of his Remote Control Productions family of composers (mainly John Powell, Henry Jackman, Harry Gregson-Williams or his brother Rupert Gregson-Williams).

Rise of the Guardians
Film score by Alexandre Desplat
Released November 13, 2012
Recorded 2012
Genre Score
Length 67:47
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Alexandre Desplat
Alexandre Desplat film scores chronology
Rise of the Guardians
Zero Dark Thirty
Track listing:[30]
No. Title Length
1. "Still Dream" (performed by Renée Fleming) 3:12
2. "Calling the Guardians"   2:06
3. "Alone in the World"   2:04
4. "Fanfare of the Elves"   0:53
5. "Wind Take Me Home!"   1:28
6. "Dreamsand"   2:03
7. "Pitch on the Globe"   0:57
8. "The Moon"   1:32
9. "Snowballs"   1:31
10. "Busy Workshop"   1:33
11. "Sleigh Launch"   1:45
12. "Nightmares Attack"   7:17
13. "Tooth Collection"   2:22
14. "Jamie's Bedroom"   2:31
15. "Jack & Sandman"   4:18
16. "Memorial"   1:21
17. "Guardians Regroup"   0:58
18. "Easter"   3:39
19. "Jack Betrays"   3:20
20. "Kids Stop Believing"   2:35
21. "Jack's Memories"   2:24
22. "Pitch at North Pole"   2:00
23. "Jamie Believes"   3:01
24. "Jack's Center"   4:52
25. "Sandman Returns"   2:36
26. "Dreamsand Miracles"   2:18
27. "Oath of the Guardians"   3:11
Total length:


Rise of the Guardians premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival: Christina Steinberg, producer; Peter Ramsey, director; Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation's CEO; Nancy Bernstein, producer; Bill Damaschke, DreamWorks Animation's Chief Creative Officer

Rise of the Guardians had its premiere on October 10, 2012, at The Mill Valley Film Festival in Mill Valley, California,[1] followed by the international premiere at The International Rome Film Festival on November 13, 2012.[31][32] Under distribution by Paramount Pictures, the film was released on November 21, 2012, in American theaters.[27] Digitally re-mastered into IMAX 3D, it was shown in limited international and domestic IMAX theaters.[33] It was the second film released in the firm Barco's Auro 11.1 3D audio format, after Red Tails.[34] The film was also shown in Dolby Atmos, a surround sound technology introduced in 2012.[35] Rise of the Guardians was the last DreamWorks Animation film distributed by Paramount, as DreamWorks has signed a five-year distribution deal with 20th Century Fox, which started in 2013 with The Croods.[6]

Home media

Rise of the Guardians was released on Blu-ray (2D and 3D) and DVD on March 12, 2013.[36]

This was the last DreamWorks Animation home media release to be distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment, since 20th Century Fox announced its distribution agreement with DreamWorks Animation a few months before the theatrical release.[6] The film was more successful at home media sales than at the box office, having at the end of the second quarter of 2013 "the highest box office to DVD conversion ratio among major releases."[37] In the first quarter of 2013, it sold 3.2 million home entertainment units worldwide,[38] and in the second quarter 0.9 million units, for a total of 4.1 million units.[39] As of August 2013, 2 million DVDs were sold domestically.[40]

It was re-released on DVD on November 5, 2013 and comes with a wind-up marching elf toy.[41]


Critical response

Rise of the Guardians received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Based on 144 reviews, the film holds a rating of 74% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "A sort of Avengers for the elementary school set, Rise of the Guardians is wonderfully animated and briskly paced, but it's only so-so in the storytelling department."[42] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 57 based on 34 reviews, or "Mixed or average."[43] The film earned an "A" from audiences polled by CinemaScore.[44]

Carrie Rickey of [46] The Washington Post '​s Michael O'Sullivan also gave the film a positive review and said, "Thoughts become things. That's the message of Rise of the Guardians, a charming if slightly dark and cobwebbed animated feature about how believing in something makes it real, or real enough."[47] Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars and wrote in his review, "There's an audience for this film. It's not me. I gather younger children will like the breakneck action, the magical ability to fly and the young hero who has tired of only being a name." Though he did say, "Their parents and older siblings may find the 89-minute running time quite long enough."[48]

The Wall Street Journal found that the film "lacks a resonant center," and that the script, "seems to have been written by committee, with members lobbying for each major character, and the action, set in vast environments all over the map, spreads itself so thin that a surfeit of motion vitiates emotion."[50]

Box office

Rise of the Guardians grossed $103,412,758 in North America, and $203,528,912 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $306,941,670.[4]

In North America, the film opened to $32.3 million over its extended five-day weekend, and with $23.8 million over the three-day weekend, it reached fourth place behind The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, Skyfall, and Lincoln. The film's opening was the lowest debut for a DreamWorks Animation film since Flushed Away.[44] While the film did gross more than its $145 million budget, it still did not turn a profit for DreamWorks Animation due to its high production and marketing costs, forcing the studio to take an $83 million write-down.[51] This marked the first time that the studio had lost money on an animated film since Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.[51][52] As a result of this combined with other factors, in February 2013, the studio announced it was laying off 350 employees as part of a company-wide restructuring.[52]


The Rome Film Fes­ti­val and Vanity Fair magazine awarded the new Vanity Fair International Award for Cinematic Excellence in November 2012 to Rise of the Guardians.[31] The film also received the Hollywood Ani­ma­tion Award at the 16th Annual Hollywood Film Festival, held on October 22, 2012.[53]

List of awards and nominations
Award Category Recipients Result
African-American Film Critics Association Best Animation Won
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Animated Female Isla Fisher (Tooth) Nominated
American Cinema Editors Best Edited Animated Feature Film Joyce Arrastia
Annie Awards[54][55] Best Animated Feature
Animated Effects in an Animated Production Andy Hayes, Carl Hooper, David Lipton Won
Character Animation in a Feature Production David Pate Nominated
Phillppe LeBrun
Pierre Perifel
Music in an Animated Feature Production Alexandre Desplat
Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Patrick Hanenberger, Max Boas, Jayee Borcar
Woonyoung Jung, Perry Maple, Peter Maynez
Stan Seo, Felix Yoon
Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Johanne Matte Won
Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Jude Law Nominated
Editorial in an Animated Feature Production Joyce Arrastia
Critics Choice Awards[56] Best Animated Feature
Cinema Audio Society Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures Animated
Golden Globe Awards[57] Best Animated Feature Film
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing in an Animated Feature Film
Hollywood Film Festival[53] Best Animated Feature Peter Ramsey Won
International Film Music Critics Association Awards Film Composer of the Year Alexandre Desplat, also for Argo, Moonrise Kingdom, Rust and Bone, and Zero Dark Thirty Nominated
Best Original Score for an Animated Feature Alexandre Desplat Won
Mill Valley Film Festival[58] Audience Favorite Children's Film Peter Ramsey
Producers Guild of America Outstanding Producer of An Animated Theatrical Motion Picture Nancy Bernstein, Christina Steinberg Nominated
Satellite Awards 2012[59] Best Animated or Mixed Media Won
Visual Effects Society[60][61] Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Nancy Bernstein, David Prescott, Peter Ramsey, Christina Steinberg Nominated
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture The North Pole: Eric Bouffard, Sonja Burchard, Andy Harbeck, Peter Maynez Nominated
Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Last Stand: Andy Hayes, Carl Hooper, Andrew Wheeler, Stephen Wood Nominated
Women Film Critics Circle[62] Best Family Film Rise of the Guardians – tied with Life of Pi Won

Video game

A video game based on the film was released by D3 Publisher on November 20, 2012 in North America,[63] and released on November 23, 2012 in Europe.[64] It allows gamers to lead the Guardians in their battle against Pitch. The game is a 3D beat-em-up, where the player travels through each of the worlds: Burgess, North Pole, Bunnymund Valley, Tooth Palace, and Sandman's Ship, to fight Pitch's army of Nightmares. The player can switch between all five guardians at any time, and freely customize their powers, and they learn new special abilities as they level up. All the game versions support up to 4 player gameplay.[65] It is available on the Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS.[66]

Possible sequels

After the release of the film, the creators of Rise of the Guardians expressed hope that the strong A-Cinemascore average for the film and an enthusiastic word-of-mouth would gather support for the "chance to make a sequel or two."[67] Author and co-producer of the series, William Joyce, also mentioned in March 2013 that he was still in talks about a sequel with DreamWorks Animation: "There is something that we are proposing that we hope they will want to do."[68]


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