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Bolt is a 2008 film starring John Travolta as the voice talents of Bolt, Miley Cyrus as Penny, Susie Essman as Mittens the cat, and Mark Walton as Rhino the hamster. This is the first film directed by Chris Williams and Byron Howard. The film's plot centers on a small white dog named Bolt who, having spent his entire life on the set of a television series, thinks that he has super powers. When he believes that his human, Penny, has been kidnapped, he sets out on a cross-country journey to "rescue" her.

Plot

Directed by

Chris Williams

Byron Howard

Produced by

Clark Spencer

John Lasseter

Written by

Chris Williams

Dan Fogelman

Starring

John Travolta

Miley Cyrus

Susie Essman

Mark Walton

Music by John Powell
Editing by Tim Mertens
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date November 21, 2008
Running Time 96 minutes
Budget $150 million
Gross $308,332,675

A girl named Penny and a dog named Bolt star on a hit television series called Bolt in which the titular character has various superpowers and must constantly thwart the evil plans of the nefarious Dr. Calico. To gain a more realistic performance, the TV show's producers have deceived Bolt his entire life, arranging the filming in such a way that Bolt believes the television show is real and he really has superpowers. After filming completes for the latest episode, Bolt escapes from his on-set trailer mistakenly believing Penny has been kidnapped by the television villain. He attempts to break through a window, knocking himself unconscious as he falls into a box of styrofoam peanuts. With no one aware Bolt is in the box, it is shipped from Hollywood to New York City. In New York, he meets Mittens, a female alley cat who bullies pigeons out of their food. Bolt, convinced this is another adventure, forces Mittens to help him get back to Hollywood, and the two start their journey westward on a truck after Bolt knocks Mittens unconscious. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, Penny is deeply saddened over Bolt's disappearance but is forced by the studio to continue filming with a Bolt lookalike. As their adventure proceeds, Bolt starts to notice that his superpowers aren't working, and rationalizes this is the effect that styrofoam has on his body.

Surprised at his first feelings of both pain and hunger, Bolt is shown by Mittens how to act like a cute, but needy dog, and is rewarded by food. They meet Rhino, a fearless, TV-obsessed hamster and huge Bolt fan who joins their team. Mittens tries to convince Bolt that his superpowers aren't real, but their discussion is cut short by the arrival of Animal Control, who captures them both and transports them to an animal shelter. After being freed en route by Rhino, Bolt finally realizes that he is just a normal dog, but regains his confidence after Rhino (oblivious to this revelation) gives him a pep talk. They rescue Mittens from the shelter and escape, allowing them to continue their journey. Along the way, Bolt learns to enjoy typical dog activities (such as hanging his head out the window), but Mittens refuses to go farther than Las Vegas. She tells Bolt that his Hollywood life is fake and there is no real love for him there. Her emotional rant reveals that she was once a house cat, but was abandoned by her previous owner and left to brave the harsh streets alone and declawed. Bolt refuses to believe that Penny doesn't love him, and continues on alone, wishing Mittens the best. Rhino, learning of Bolt's departure, convinces Mittens that they must help him, and the two set off to find Bolt once again.

Bolt reaches the studio, finding Penny embracing his lookalike. Unaware that Penny still misses him and that her affection for the lookalike was only a part of a rehearsal for the show, he leaves, brokenhearted. Mittens, on a gantry in the studio, sees what Bolt does not - Penny telling her mother how much she misses Bolt. Realizing that Penny truly does love Bolt, Mittens follows Bolt and explains. At the same time, the Bolt-lookalike panics during filming and accidentally knocks over some torches, setting the sound stage on fire and trapping Penny. Bolt arrives and reunites with Penny inside the burning studio, being rescued as they succumb to smoke asphyxiation.

Penny and her mother subsequently quit the show when their agent attempts to exploit the incident for publicity purposes. Penny herself adopts Mittens and Rhino, and moves to a rural home to enjoy a simpler, happy lifestyle with Bolt and her new pets. The show continues, but with a replacement "Bolt" and "Penny"- "Penny's" new appearance being explained in the show as being serious injuries necessitating her undergoing facial reconstruction surgery-, and adopting an alien abduction storyline (one that even Rhino finds unrealistic, and Bolt finds "ridonculous").

Cast

Main article: Cast

John Travolta as Bolt

Miley Cyrus as Penny

Susie Essman as Mittens

Mark Walton as Rhino

Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Calico

Nick Swardson as Blake

Diedrich Bader as Veteran Cat

Chloë Moretz as Young Penny

Greg Germann as The Agent

James Lipton as The Director

Randy Savage as Thug

Kari Wahlgren as Mindy

Grey Delisle as Penny's Mom

Soundtrack

Main article: Bolt Soundtrack

The score to Bolt was composed by John Powell. The soundtrack featured the film's score and two original songs - "I Thought I Lost You" by Bolt's stars John Travolta and Miley Cyrus (nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song on 2009) as well as "Barking at the Moon" by Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis. The soundtrack was released on November 18, 2008.

Production

Development

At first, the film was going to be titled American Dog, and was written and directed by Chris Sanders. Eventually, Sanders was removed from the project and replaced by Chris Williams and Byron Howard. The film's previous plot told the story of a dog named Henry, a famous TV star, who one day finds himself stranded in the Nevada desert with a testy, one-eyed cat and an oversized, radioactive rabbit who are themselves searching for new homes, all the while believing he is still on television. In 2006, after becoming Chief Creative Officer at Disney, John Lasseter along with other directors from Pixar and Disney viewed a couple of early cuts of the film and gave Chris Sanders notes on how to improve the story. According to Lasseter, Chris Sanders was replaced because Sanders resisted the changes that Lasseter and the other directors had suggested. Lasseter was quoted as saying "Chris Sanders is extremely talented, but he couldn’t take it to the place it had to be." After Sanders left and the original title was removed, the animation team was told to complete the movie in just 18 months instead of the usual four years that is normally required to produce a computer-animated feature. In June 8, 2007, Disney announced that the film, now under its current name, would be released on November 21, 2008 in Disney Digital 3-D.

Animation

The look of the film was inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper and the cinematography of Vilmos Zsigmond. As in Rapunzel, new technology in non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) was used to give it a special visual appearance. To give the movie's 3D backgrounds a hand-painted look, the company artists used new patented technology designed specifically for the movie.

Bolt's characteristics are based on an amalgam of breeds, although the designers started with the American White Shepherd. Joe Moshier, lead character designer, said, "they [American White Shepherds] have really long ears, a trait that I tried to caricature in order to allow the animators to emphasize Bolt's expressiveness."

The design of Rhino in his plastic ball was based on executive producer John Lasseter's pet chinchilla, which was brought to an animators' retreat during the film's production.

Super Rhino

Main article: Super Rhino

Super Rhino is a 2009 Walt Disney animated short, starring the characters from feature film Bolt. Directed by Nathan Greno, the Head of Story on Bolt, the short film picks up sometime after the conclusion of Bolt. The excitable and TV obsessed hamster Rhino finds out his friends Penny and Bolt have been kidnapped and have to save them from the evil Dr. Calico.

Super Rhino was included in the 2009 DVD and Blu-Ray release of Bolt.

Bolt Video Game

Main article: Bolt (Game)

A video game based on the film was released on November 18, 2008 for Nintendo DS, Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and also for mobile phone. The game focuses on Bolt's fake TV life, not the actual movie storyline.

Release

Theatrical A trailer for the film was released on June 27, 2008, preceding WALL-E. A second trailer for the film was released on October 3, 2008, preceding Beverly Hills Chihuahua. A special trailer was shown before High School Musical 3: Senior Year on October 24, 2008.

The premiere was held at El Capitan Theatre on November 16, 2008 in the arrivals and red carpet attended by John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Malcolm McDowell, Diedrich Bader, Nick Swardson, Greg Germann, Susie Essman, and Randy Savage.

Following the announcement by John Lasseter in December 2006 that all future Disney releases will have a theatrical short, the release was accompanied by the Cars Toons "Tokyo Mater" (also in 3D where available).

Home video Bolt was released on Region A Blu-ray Disc in the United States on March 22, 2009. The BD set included standard DVD and digital copy versions of the film. Single-disc DVD and Special Edition DVD with Digital Copy versions followed in Region 1 on March 24. This marked the first time a major home-video release debuted on Blu-ray Disc before DVD. Bolt was released on both Blu-ray and DVD in the United Kingdom on June 15, 2009.

A short film called Super Rhino is included in the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film.

The DVD has sold 4,581,755 copies, generating $81.01 million in sales as of December 31st 2009.

Reception

Critical reaction Rotten Tomatoes reported that 88% of critics gave positive reviews based on 166 reviews. Another review aggregator, Metacritic, gave the film a 68/100 approval rating based on 28 reviews following under the category "generally favorable reviews".

Perry Seibert of TV Guide gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and wrote the film "amuses both those who make up the film's target audience and the parents along for the ride. This winning mix of exciting action, heart-tugging sentiment, and gentle character comedy makes Bolt yet another solid addition to Disney's history of family-friendly fare." Tasha Robinson of the A.V. Club gave the film a B+ stating that "Bolt is the studio's first film since Lilo & Stitch that feels like it's trying to recapture the old Disney instead of aggressively shedding it in favor of something slick and new. And yet it comes with a healthy cutting-edge Pixar flavor as well." Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times compared Bolt with The Truman Show and stated in his review "[Bolt] also has an intriguing plot that is kind of the family animation version of the Jim Carrey-starring The Truman Show."

Box office On its opening weekend, the film opened #3 with $26,223,128 behind Twilight and Quantum of Solace. On its second weekend, it rose to #2 behind Four Christmases with a 1.4% increase. As of November 1, 2009 the film has grossed $114,053,579 in the US and Canada with an additional $199.9 million internationally for a worldwide total of $313,953,579.

Trivia

  • Bolt was originally going to be named "The Omega Dog".
  • This was Chris Williams' and Byron Howard's first film together.
  • There are apparently 940 episodes of the TV show Bolt. This explains all the photographs in the trailer.

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