Wednesday, August 18, 2021

PAW Patrol: The Movie | Cast & Crew Interviews | Nickelodeon Movies

PAW Patrol: The Movie bounds into theaters and onto Paramount+ on August 20! To celebrate, below is a handpicked selection of interviews with the cast and crew of the all new PAW Patrol movie!

Paw Patrol goes Hollywood: How Toronto’s Spin Master plans to become film industry’s top dog

If you have a child under the age of 12 – or if you have ever been within the social distance of one – then you likely have complicated feelings about Paw Patrol.

The Canadian television series has been a polarizing force in parenting ever since its first episode premiered in 2013. On the one hand, Paw Patrol’s 11-minute adventures have distracted an untold number of children, giving caregivers much-needed sanity breaks, especially during pandemic-era parenting. On the other hand, Paw Patrol is, well, Paw Patrol. It provokes a visceral response that Pavlov’s own pup couldn’t conjure.

Paw Patrol is formulaic, with each episode following the adventures of the young spiky-haired tech-genius Ryder and his stable of first-responder dogs, who for reasons unexplained live a life of indentured servitude in the danger zone of Adventure Bay. Paw Patrol is repetitive, with the pups explaining and re-explaining their problem-solving methods to hammer home the show’s “pro-social” messaging. Paw Patrol is annoying, with a theme song (“Paw Patrol, Paw Patrol, we’ll be there on the double!”) that will haunt your dreams. And Paw Patrol can be expensive, given that it exists, primarily, to move toys.

Yet while some burned-out parents might be done with Paw Patrol, Paw Patrol ain’t done with parents. In fact, the cash-cow canines are only just getting started. This month, Paw Patrol: The Movie will be released into the world – a big step for the franchise, and a huskie-sized leap for Spin Master Corp., the Toronto-based outfit responsible for the genuine cultural phenomenon, 160 countries and counting.

But can a Canadian company – even one with US$1.57-billion in 2020 revenue, and no shortage of other franchises, including Bakugan and Hatchimals – turn itself into a major Hollywood power player? One that can compete in the cutthroat animation industry, which is dominated by giants (Disney’s Pixar, Universal’s Illumination) and littered with contenders both struggling (Laika) and shuttered (Blue Sky Studios)?

”Our very first conversation of could we, should we, make a film was six or seven years ago. As we got further into the franchise and we found our legs in longer storytelling, we decided that this is the time to make this film,” says Jennifer Dodge, a producer on the movie and president of Spin Master’s entertainment division.

Dodge, who has been with the company since 2009 – save a 2015-2017 stint at Nickelodeon – is careful to emphasize Spin Master’s story as one of “evolution.” Founded in 1994 as a toymaker, the company is today a “global children’s entertainment company.”

”We have three creative sectors: toys, entertainment and digital, which encompasses our mobile gaming groups,” Dodge says. “It’s about having areas of expertise that can drive all those businesses, but also work synergistically across the three creative centres.”

Synergistically speaking, then, Paw Patrol: The Movie is a corporate fantasy come true. Opening Aug. 20 in North American theatres – and available to stream that same day in the U.S. on the nascent Paramount+ service – the film arrives with a collection of 30-plus toys already on shelves (the three-foot-tall Paw Patrol Movie Ultimate City Tower playset retails for $199.99), plus a video game, branded ball pits, kids furniture, backpacks, lunch boxes, Halloween costumes and more.

”Paw Patrol is a true entertainment franchise that exists across multiple screens, platforms and every product category that you can imagine,” Dodge says. “The movie is a moment in time when we’re able to celebrate the size and the scope of the whole property.”

But to effectively make a market impact, Paw Patrol: The Movie needs to look and feel like a big-budget feature film. Less Cocomelon and more Minions. Unlike previous “extended” Paw Patrol productions, such as the 44-minute Ready Race Rescue that was briefly sent to theatres in 2019, this new 88-minute title is a genuine Hollywood-sized event.

Although Spin Master would not reveal the film’s final production budget, the CGI animation here is slicker and more textured than the series, with director Cal Brunker (The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature) and his team reshaping and rebuilding every character, vehicle and environment from scratch. There are celebrity voices (Jimmy Kimmel, Tyler Perry, Kim Kardashian). There is an original song by Adam Levine. And, crucially, there is a made-in-Hollywood partnership between Spin Master, Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures.

”Making a movie was new to Spin, so we helped set up relationships with folks in Los Angeles. And it became clear that Paramount was the No. 1 suitor, because they were rebuilding their studio and starting Paramount+,” says Noah Segal, co-president of Toronto’s Elevation Pictures, which has a long relationship with Spin Master and is handling distribution of the film in Canada. “The idea was that you try to keep control and keep it Canadian. And we were able to build a deal that was advantageous to the creators and get them the biggest flex by dealing with a major U.S. studio.”

Which is how Paw Patrol: The Movie wound up being a rare cultural product: a Canadian-made yet primed-for-America blockbuster-in-waiting. Brunker and his co-writer Bob Barlen worked on the film in Toronto, with the CGI heavy-lifting handled by Mikros Animation in Montreal. Aside from some voice recording in L.A. and orchestral scoring in Nashville, “95 per cent of everything” happened in Canada, according to Brunker.

“That’s pretty unique for a major studio release like this,” adds the Sheridan College-educated director, who notes that Canadians are more active than ever in the animation market. “Every animation studio that I’ve worked at has a disproportionate share of Canadians. We have great schools here.”

Spin Master and its film industry partners are also betting that the movie will appeal to audiences who have aged out of Paw Patrol (the series’ target demographic rests between two to five years old).

”Kids grow up and move on, but every year, whole new sets of two-year-olds are getting introduced to the Paw Patrol universe,” Dodge says. “The movie gives the audience who has been with it a couple of years something exciting to keep them involved and invested in the characters just a little longer.”

The timing of the release, though, presents a challenge for Spin Master outside the trends and whims of the movie business. Last summer, Paw Patrol found itself at the centre of a social-media storm when the show’s official Twitter account issued a call to “#amplifyblackvoices.” This sparked a wave of jokes, memes and genuine outrage decrying the show’s rosy depiction of law enforcement, particularly its police-pup character Chase. Tweets such as “Euthanize the police dog” and “Defund the Paw Patrol” fluttered around. As a New York Times headline put it: “The protests come for Paw Patrol.”

”You know, the whole Paw Patrol team has always stood for community service, and even in Chase’s role as a police pup, his duties and the things that he performs are about being of service,” Dodge says. “I think that it’s our responsibility to show great role models, and we haven’t shifted from that.”

What Spin Master will shift toward, though, is exploring a sequel, and further big-screen ventures.

“There are definitely plans for more theatrical,” Dodge says. “We haven’t announced anything yet, but we have a robust slate of films in development.”

None of which, your preschooler will be delighted to hear, threaten Paw Patrol’s small-screen future.

”We have plans for several years to come with the series,” Dodge adds, noting that the show just started production on its ninth season. “It will keep going. Paw Patrol is always on a roll.”

Paw Patrol: The Movie will be released into the world this month – a big step for the franchise, and a huskie-sized leap for Spin Master Corp., the Toronto-based outfit responsible for the cultural phenomenon. COURTESY OF SPIN MASTER / PARAMOUNT VIA ELEVATION PICTURES

Kim Kardashian West voices Delores in Paw Patrol: The Movie. The film arrives with a collection of 30-plus toys already on shelves, plus a video game, branded ball pits, kids furniture and more.

Tyler Perry voices Gus [...] and Iain Armitage voices Chase in the upcoming movie. The CGI animation in the film is slicker and more textured than the series.


‘PAW Patrol: The Movie’ Offers a Puppy Treat for Theaters & Paramount+

***This article originally appeared in the August ’21 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 312)***

When a team of filmmakers set out to make PAW Patrol: The Movie, based on the hugely popular series originally created by renowned British children’s TV icon Keith Chapman (Bob the Builder), they knew they had a challenge on their hands and a very picky preschool audience to please.

The original PAW Patrol series (produced by Spin Master, Nickelodeon and Guru Studio) has been a powerhouse show since it first appeared on TV screens in 2013. The show introduced six dynamic rescue pups and their leader, a boy named Ryder, quickly became a favorite with preschoolers by focusing on straightforward, positive storytelling and adorable characters and inspired a wave of toy and wardrobe purchases.

“For us, it was important to be able to tell a deeper character story than what we’ve been able to do with this series,” says producer Jennifer Dodge. “And to tell it in a way that a child really can understand and relate to, and maybe even their parents get a deeper meaning from it. You can have a hard day at school or daycare and you can rise above those difficulties and you can come through on the other side. It doesn’t mean you’re never scared, it doesn’t mean you don’t doubt yourself. But, if at the end of the day, you really believe in yourself and you have people around you who believe in you, you can overcome it.”

Director Cal Brunker, who also wrote the film along with his childhood friend Bob Barlen and Billy Frolick, came to the film with a solid understanding of the characters thanks to his own kids.

Paw-sitive Portrayals

“When the chance came to pitch my take on the movie, I was able to bring all of their experience and what my kids loved about the show to the pitch, and I think that really helped,” says Brunker, who also directed The Nut Job 2 and Escape from Planet Earth. “Our take was, we really wanted to build this around the emotional journey of one character, so it felt like more of a theatrical experience. You go on a journey with one of these characters overcoming their struggles, and the whole team is involved, but we felt that that was the best way to bring an audience deeper into the story.”

In the series, Chase – the German shepherd pup (voiced by Iain Armitage) – often emerges as the leader who rallies the other dogs to go on an adventure or save the day. It was natural for the focus of the film to be on him.

“Chase is kind of like the quarterback,” says screenwriter Bob Barlen. “Chase sort of seems like the main character, and so being able to expand and kind of have a character who fails and who has to overcome an obstacle is important. We were able to do more than the TV show time allows. Starting in Adventure Bay, you see him as that same perfect pup from the show where he’s executing things flawlessly. That’s really where we were able to expand on his backstory and create something that would be worthy of the feature film. So, you’re seeing him for the first time really ever make mistakes and mess up and come to terms with not being perfect, and then pushing through and overcoming that fear. That was really something that we were excited about in terms of telling a story.”

Adds Brunker, “At its core, the movie is about what it means to be scared, and how to overcome your fears. It felt really important to be doing something that we could share with people at this time as the movie comes out. I think people are coming out of this time of fear and uncertainty, and I think the movie has a lot to say about that. And we really feel proud that hopefully this is going to be one of the first movies that people get to see in theaters again.”

Spotlight on Skye

While they wanted to focus on the backstory of one character, it was also important to them to add a new female pup to the crew, since the character Skye is usually the only female on the team. New pups often appear in the series for a specific adventure to round out the team but then aren’t necessarily in every episode going forward.

“My daughter is a huge Skye fan,” says Brunker. “She was four when we started making this movie. So, we wanted to give Skye some really big, exciting moments. We also felt, just in terms of bringing something fresh and new to the team, a new girl pup would be wonderful. Because she’s new for the movie, we wanted to make her stand out. We thought that because she was from the city we could make her a little tougher, a little more rough around the edges than the other pups are, and that would bring something fresh to that world as well.”

Dodge and Brunker both thought the style of the animation needed to remain true to the series but with some significant adjustments to give it a more theatrical feeling.

“We wanted to redesign some things you notice in the movie,” says Brunker. “The back legs of the dogs actually look and function like real dog legs and in the TV show they’re kind of more cartoony; just kind of stick legs. We felt it would allow them to move more like real dogs, and if we could push the realism of the movement, then it would make the fact that they’re doing these great big rescues and all this heroic stuff even more exciting.”

According to animation supervisor Guillermo Dupinet, all the animation was done by Mikros Animation in Montreal. There was a crew of 250 on the film with a team of about 60 devoted to the animation. Most of the work was done remotely, since they were in the previz stage when the lockdown started. Their biggest challenge was creating high-quality theatrical animation that didn’t lose the sense of the series. They were also especially interested in creating action scenes that had more of a realistic quality.

The film also represented the fulfillment of a lifetime dream for Barlen and Brunker, who’ve been making films together for decades. “Bob and I have been best friends since high school and we’ve been making movies together since high school,” says Brunker. “Back before we ever got a chance to make a movie, Bob and I went to Hollywood for the first time and we actually paid to go on the Paramount lot tour. You know, you get to see behind the gates. We said to each other, wouldn’t it be amazing if one day we were making a movie for Paramount? Well, we’re six or seven weeks away from our first movie for Paramount coming out. And to be entrusted with such a beloved brand for so many people and to be able to share that with the world, this is a dream come true for us. It’s been something we’ve been working towards for a long time and, and it’s a real gift.”

Paramount will release PAW Patrol: The Movie in theaters and on Paramount+ on August 20.

Familiar Voices: With animation produced by Mikros, PAW Patrol: The Movie features the voices of Iain Armitage, Marsai Martin, Ron Pardo, Yara Shahidi, Kim Kardashian, Randall Park, Dax Shepard, Tyler Perry and Jimmy Kimmel.



PAW Patrol is — truly — on a roll. This year, your favorite public service pups are turning 8 and expanding the wide, wide world of Adventure Bay to a brand-new frontier: the big screen.

PAW Patrol: The Movie will be available in theaters and on Paramount+ on Aug. 20. When their nemesis Humdinger becomes the mayor of Adventure City and starts wreaking havoc, Ryder and the canine crew kick into high gear with help from a new ally, Liberty. Members from the original series’ cast are featured in the film, along with special appearances from Kim Kardashian West (as Delores), Randall Park (as Butch), Dax Shepard (as Ruben), and Tyler Perry (as Gus), among others.

For a brand that has been around for a long time — the series itself has eight seasons, with tons of additional specials included — it continues to grow, change, and become even more of a preschool phenomenon. But with a huge emphasis on themes such as problem-solving, self-esteem, inclusivity, community service, and teamwork, it’s no wonder that these pups have become a staple in any household with preschoolers.

‘PAW Patrol: The Movie’ will be in theaters and streaming on Paramount+ on Aug. 20. | Source: ViacomCBS/SpinMaster/the Toy Book

“PAW Patrol’s universal themes of teamwork, community service, and rescue paired with recognizable characters and — of course — puppies, resonate with preschoolers all around the world,” says Jennifer Dodge, president of Spin Master Entertainment. “Staying true to this foundation, the series content remains fresh with the introduction of new themes, new characters, and the ability to tell stories in new formats as we have done with our 42-minute specials and now, the first feature film. Each season, we bring fresh, new themes that appeal to preschoolers from giving the pups superpowers to taking them into the world of dinosaurs.”

As you may have guessed from the release date’s timing, PAW Patrol: The Movie was created almost entirely during stay-at-home orders put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While preproduction was already underway for a few months, production and animation kicked off in March 2020,” Dodge says. “Our team and studio partners jumped into action to adapt to remote work, shipping edit suites into homes and mics and sound equipment to the voice cast. Everything was delivered virtually, which is a testament to the incredible teams behind the film.”

Behind eight seasons of TV, major 42-minute specials, and a feature film is a licensing program that brings the on-screen world of Adventure Bay right into homes around the world.

The hero item in Spin Master’s line for PAW Patrol: The Movie is the Ultimate City Tower. This tower is the biggest PAW Patrol tower the company has ever made, standing at 36 inches tall. This vehicle-compatible toy features a transforming ramp, a vehicle launcher, a command center, a suit-up station, uniform storage, pup cubbies, a helipad, a pup elevator, a vehicle elevator, a garage, lights and sounds, and more. There’s tons of imaginative play packed into this tower so PAW Patrol fans can go on their own adventures. Like the rest of Spin Master’s line for the movie, this tower is available at mass retailers now.

In addition to a huge variety of toy offerings from Spin Master, the brand also features home goods, apparel, car seats, luggage, shoes, bedding — and that’s just to name a few. The Paw Patrol brand’s licensees produce pup-themed products ranging from apparel and home decor to books and more to immerse kids in the world of Adventure Bay.

“Our creative team works alongside Spin Master to engage audiences by coupling the core show with new content themes, storylines, and characters,” says Pam Kaufman, president of global consumer products at ViacomCBS. “The new themes not only keep the content fresh, but also provide our licensees with a framework to help bring originality to their offerings through new and exciting products that tie back to the season’s adventures.”

The PAW Patrol brand has always been heavily screen-to-shelf, meaning what consumers see on shelves matches what they’re seeing in the entertainment content. Often times, the product design and content teams work together to plan out what’s coming up — a new vehicle that’s central to the show’s plot will be central to the new SKUs lining the retail shelves as well.

“We know that kids have an emotional connection to these characters, and they want products they can bring home to play out their own paw-some adventures,” Kaufman says. “The synergy between the content and licensing teams helps ensure we are creating a holistic universe for preschoolers and their families for a richer experience.”

And that experience teaches kids lessons like teamwork and public service that they can take with them as they grow up. The crew teaches kids that no matter how old they are, they can help others (“No job is too big, no pup is too small!”). Yes, the pups are cute and adorable, but they’re also helping to guide little ones to be better citizens of the world.


Nickelodeon’s furry heroes pounce onto big screen in ‘Paw Patrol: The Movie’

We’re used to hearing about superheroes saving the day, but sometimes heroes come in small, furry, totally adorable sizes. The Paw Patrol is reporting for duty on the big screen, and Deco’s howling along with the superstar voice cast.

Trailer voiceover: “Our fate is in their paws.”

Tyler Perry (as Gus, voice): “A dog?!”

Iain Armitage (as Chase, voice): “Actually, sir, I’m a puppy.”

Have no fear, the Paw Patrol is here — and they’re ready to save the day and make any “ruff” situation a little cuter.

“Paw Patrol: The Movie” is based on the animated Nickelodeon series. This time around, the pups are heading to a different city to stop the mayor from causing chaos.

Marsai Martin (as Liberty, voice): “We need your help. Humdinger is going to destroy Adventure City.”

Iain Armitage and Marsai Martin voice Chase and Liberty, the movie’s top dogs. Chase is a police pup, and Liberty’s the one that calls the team in for help.

Iain Armitage: “He’s a really good pup. He’s strong, he’s funny, he’s smart, and he’s quick. I hope I’m as brave as him, and I hope I help people like he does, because he’s pretty awesome.”

Marsai Martin: “She is also a very big fan of the Paw Patrol, so when she finally gets to meets them, it’s like she already just wants to be a part of whatever they’re doing.”

Speaking of cool canines, Kim Kardashian is unleashing her talents as a poodle named Delores.

Kim Kardashian: “I think Delores is so unique and so bougie and so feminine and so not adventurous like the Paw Patrol is, and I think that it’s fun to see that on the big screen.”

Kim’s totally scoring major brownie points with her kids.

Kim Kardashian: “My kids love Paw Patrol, so they are so excited, and that just makes me happy.”

Sure, “Paw Patrol” is mainly about dogs, but there are human characters in it, too, and that means major star power, including Tyler Perry and Jimmy Kimmel.

Tyler Perry(as Gus, voice): “Oh thank you, thank you, thank you. The rescue team is here!”

Jimmy Kimmel (as Marty Muckraker): “Ooh, yikes!”

And like just like Kim K, these guys are hoping their sons are impressed.

Jimmy Kimmel: “My son is nonstop Paw Patrol. I’m hopeful this will make me a big shot, at least for a couple of days.”)

Tyler Perry: “‘Paw Patrol, Paw Patrol, be there on the double,’ so I know it very well, and he loves it so much, so that’s the reason I had said yes. I really wanted to be part of something that he could appreciate.”

Will Brisbin (as Ryder voice): “This is what we do. No city’s too big, no pup’s too small.”

“Paw Patrol: The Movie” rolls over into theaters on Friday, Aug. 20.


From LRM:

Marsai Martin And Iain Armitage On Their Heroic Puppies In Paw Patrol: The Movie [Exclusive Interview]

Eight years ago I was lighter and more athletic. Not to mention close to a decade younger. But thanks to the magic of television, Nickelodeon’s hit kids series Paw Patrol still features those loveable and heroic pups led by Ryder. The lineup includes Chase, Marshall, Skye, Rubble, Rocky, and Zuma. What is significant about this eighth year of their existence is that they are finally going to be featured on the big screen in Paw Patrol: The Movie.

This weekend on Aug 20, 2021, Paw Patrol: The Movie will hit theaters everywhere as well as streaming on Paramount+. Along with featuring the fan-favorite characters, the film will introduce a new Pup named Liberty. She is voiced by the talented Marsai Martin. As well as a brand new headquarters in Adventure City. Unfortunately, Humdinger is going to be up to no good once again. With his shenanigans, he will keep the Paw Patrol busy for a feature-length film!

Paw Patrol: The Movie

Joining Martin and the rest of the original cast of Paw Patrol in the film will be Iain Armitage, Yara Shahidi, Kim Kardashian West, Randall Park, Dax Shepard, with Tyler Perry and Jimmy Kimmel and introducing Will Brisbin. Paw Patrol: The Movie is directed by Cal Brunker. Based on the television series created by Keith Chapman.

Here is the synopsis for Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, and Spin Master Entertainment’s Paw Patrol: The Movie

The PAW Patrol is on a roll!  When their biggest rival, Humdinger, becomes Mayor of nearby Adventure City and starts wreaking havoc, Ryder and everyone’s favorite heroic pups kick into high gear to face the challenge head on.  While one pup must face his past in Adventure City, the team finds help from a new ally, the savvy dachshund Liberty.  Together, armed with exciting new gadgets and gear, the PAW Patrol fights to save the citizens of Adventure City! 

With the release of Paw Patrol: The Movie this weekend, LRM Online’s Emmanuel Gomez spoke with Marsai Martin and Iain Armitage. As mentioned above Martin voices the newest pup in the franchise, Liberty. While Armitage voices the fan-favorite Police pup, Chase. During our conversation, we talk about their excitement to be part of such a lovable franchise. As well as their experience with Paw Patrol growing up. Also, we learn a little more about Liberty and the journey that Chase goes through. They may be young but they had fantastic answers to all our questions. Check it out below!

Paw Patrol: The Movie rolls out this Friday, August 20th, 2021 in theaters. As well as streaming on Paramount+.


Originally published: August 07, 2021.

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