Rango is Nickelodeon Movies' third computer-animated film, released on March 4, 2011. It was directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Graham King. Rango was a critical and commercial success, and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It features the voices of actors Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant, and Ned Beatty.
It was Nickelodeon's second computer-animated film to be rated PG by the MPAA, after Barnyard. The film received widespread positive reviews and was a box office success, grossing $245 million worldwide against its $135 million budget.
A pet chameleon (Johnny Depp) becomes stranded in the Mojave Desert, where he is directed by an armadillo (Alfred Molina) to a town called Dirt. In the desert, he is pursued by a red-tailed hawk and hallucinates at length before meeting the desert iguana Beans (Isla Fisher), who takes the chameleon to Dirt, an Old West town populated by desert animals. There, the chameleon presents himself to the townsfolk as a heroic figure, under the name of 'Rango'. He soon runs afoul of Gila monster Bad Bill (Ray Winstone), but avoids a fight when Bill is scared off by the afore-seen hawk, and is himself pursued by the hawk until he accidentally crushes it beneath an empty water tower, whereupon the town's mayor (Ned Beatty) appoints Rango the sheriff. Meanwhile, the townsfolk worry that with the hawk dead, the gunslinger Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy) will return. After discovering Dirt's water reserves nearly empty, Beans demands that Rango investigate; but later, Rango inadvertently assists a trio of bank robbers, led by the mole Balthazar (Harry Dean Stanton), mistaking them for prospectors; and upon finding the water stolen, organizes a posse, who discover bank manager Merrimack (Stephen Root) dead in the desert from drowning, and later fight the robbers for the stolen water bottle, before discovering the bottle to be empty. Despite the robbers professing they had found it empty, the posse brings them to town for trial.
Rango confronts the mayor about his purchase of land around Dirt, who denies any wrongdoing and shows Rango that he is building a modern city with the purchased land. When Rango objects to this, the mayor summons Rattlesnake Jake, who humiliates Rango. Rango thence wanders from town until his encounter with a figure identified only as the 'Spirit of the West' (Timothy Olyphant) or 'Man with No Name', who advises him that "No man can walk out on his own story". Guided by the armadillo and a set of mobile yucca schidigera, Rango learns that Dirt's water supply is controlled by an emergency valve in a water pipeline to Las Vegas Valley. Thereafter Rango challenges Jake to a duel while Balthazar's robbers and the yucca schidigera release the water-supply; but he and Beans are imprisoned by the mayor, who then attempts to kill Jake, having identified in him an aspect of the nearly-obsolete 'Old West', only to be foiled when Rango and Beans release themselves and the water-supply from his control. At this, Jake salutes Rango and departs, taking the mayor prisoner, while the other characters celebrate.
- Johnny Depp as Rango, a chameleon who is the titular protagonist of the film.
- Isla Fisher as Beans, a desert iguana the love interest of Rango, and also the deurtagonist.
- Abigail Breslin as Priscilla, a cactus mouse or aye-aye
- Ned Beatty as Tortoise John, Mayor of Dirt, a desert tortoisethe main antagonist of the film.
- Alfred Molina as Roadkill, a nine-banded armadillo
- Bill Nighy as Rattlesnake Jake, a rattlesnake, the secondary antagonist.
- Harry Dean Stanton as Balthazar, a mole, and the quaternary antagonist
- Ray Winstone as Bad Bill, a Gila monster the tertiary antagonist of the film.
- Timothy Olyphant as the Spirit of the West
- Stephen Root as: Doc, a rabbit; Mr. Johannes Merrimack III ("Fluffy Joe" - the banker); Mister Snuggles
- Maile Flanagan as Lucky
- Ian Abercrombie as Ambrose, a burrowing owl
- Gil Birmingham as Wounded Bird, a Chihuahuan raven
- James Ward Byrkit as: Waffles, a horned toad; Gordy; Papa Joad; Cousin Murt; Curlie knife attacker; Rodent Kid
- Claudia Black as Angélique, a fox
- Blake Clark as Buford, a Sonoran desert toad and a Gas Can Saloon bartender
- John Cothran, Jr. as Elgin
- Patrika Darbo as: Delilah; Maybelle
- George DelHoyo as Señor Flan, the accordion player
- Charles Fleischer as Elbows
- Beth Grant as Bonnie
- Ryan Hurst as Jedidiah
- Vincent Kartheiser as Ezekiel; Lasso rodent
- Hemky Madera as Chorizo
- Alex Manugian as Spoons
- Mark McCreery as Parsons
- Joe Nunez as Rock-Eye
- Chris Parson as: Hazel Moats, Kinski, Stump, Clinker, Lenny, Boseefus, Dirt Kid
- Lew Temple as: Furgus; Hitch
- Alanna Ubach as: Boo Cletus, a raccoon; Fresca; Miss Daisy
- Gore Verbinski as: Sergeant Turley, a wild turkey; Crevice; Slim, a turkey vulture; Lupe, the violin player
- Kym Whitley as Melonee
- Keith Campbell as Sod Buster
The film was produced by Nickelodeon Movies, Gore Verbinski's production company Blind Wink, and Graham King's GK Films. The CGI animation was created by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), marking its first full-length animated feature. ILM usually does visual effects for live-action films. It is also the first animated film for Verbinski. During voice recording, the actors received costumes and sets to "give them the feel of the Wild West"; star Johnny Depp had 20 days in which to voice Rango; and the filmmakers scheduled the supporting actors to interact with him. Verbinski said his attempt with Rango was to do a "small" film after the large-scale Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, but that he underestimated how painstaking and time-consuming animated filmmaking is.
In a discussion about the nature of contemporary animated features, Verbinski said in December 2011,
- "There are shackles with the budgets and the profit margins. You want to compete with what they're doing at Pixar and DreamWorks. There's a price tag with that just in terms of achieving that quality level. What happened to the Ralph Bakshis [the director of such adult-oriented animated movies as 1972's Fritz the Cat] of the world? We’re all sitting here talking about family entertainment. Does animation have to be family entertainment? I think at that cost, yes. There's the bull's-eye you have to hit, but when you miss it by a little bit and you do something interesting, the bull's-eye is going to move. Audiences want something new; they just can't articulate what."
Rango's teaser trailer was released on June 9, 2010, along with the film's official site, RangoMovie.com. It shows an open desert highway and an orange, wind-up plastic fish floating slowly across the road. On June 28, 2010, the first poster was released, showing the character Rango. A two-minute trailer was released June 29, 2010. Another trailer was released December 14, 2010. A 30-second spot was made specifically to run during Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011.
The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 15, 2011. The release had been produced as a two-disc Blu-ray, DVD, and "Digital Copy" combo pack with both the theatrical and an extended version of the film, cast and crew commentary, deleted scenes, and featurettes.The extended version adds a final scene with the flooded town now a beach resort renamed Mud, and Rango riding out to deal with news that Bad Bill is causing trouble elsewhere.
The film returned to theaters for a three-week engagement beginning January 27, 2012.
Rango received positive reviews. It has an 88% rating on the film critics aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 200 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The site's consensus says, "Rango is a smart, giddily creative burst of beautifully animated entertainment, and Johnny Depp gives a colorful vocal performance as a household pet in an unfamiliar world."  Another review-aggregation website, Metacritic, reported that the film had been given an average review of 75 out of 100 (or 3 out of 4).
Rango, which was distributed by Paramount Pictures, earned $123,477,607 in North America and $121,897,767 in other countries for a total $245,375,374. It was the 23rd highest-grossing film of 2011 worldwide.
In North America, Rango debuted in 3,917 theaters, grossing $9,608,091 on its first day and $38,079,323 during its opening weekend, ranking number one at the box office. On March 26, 2011 it became the first film of 2011 to cross the $100 million mark in North America.
With its distribution contract with DreamWorks Animation set to be concluded in 2012, Paramount Pictures, pleased by the performance of this film, announced plans to establish its own animation department.
The Sacramento, California-based anti-smoking organization Breathe California regards the film a public health hazard; it said there were at least 60 instances of smoking in the film.
|Academy Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Gore Verbinski||Won|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Best Animated Female:||Isla Fisher||Won|
|American Cinema Editors||Best Edited Animated Feature Film||Craig Wood||Won|
|Annie Awards||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Animated Effects in an Animated Production||Chase Cooper||Nominated|
|Animated Effects in an Animated Production||Willi Geiger||Nominated|
|Character Design in a Feature Production||Mark “Crash” McCreery||Won|
|Directing in a Feature Production||Gore Verbinski||Nominated|
|Storyboarding in a Feature Production||Delia Gosman||Nominated|
|Storyboarding in a Feature Production||Josh Hayes||Nominated|
|Writing in a Feature Production||John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit||Won|
|Editing in a Feature Production||Craig Wood||Won|
|BAFTA||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Boston Society of Film Critics Awards||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Animated Feature||Won|
|Golden Globes Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Nominated|
|Hollywood Film Festival||Best Animated||Won|
|IGN Best of 2011||Best Animated Movie||Won|
|International Film Music Critics Association||Best Original Score for an Animated Feature||Hans Zimmer||Nominated|
|Kids Choice Awards||Favorite Voice From an Animated Movie||Johnny Depp||Nominated|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards||Best Animation||Won|
|Motion Picture Sound Editors||Best Sound Editing. Sound Effects, in an Animation Feature Film||Nominated|
|83rd National Board of Review Awards}}||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Online Film Critics Society Awards||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Producers Guild of America Awards||Best Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures||John B. Carls, Gore Verbinski||Nominated|
|San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Satellite Awards||Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|2011 Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Animated Voice||Johnny Depp||Won|
|Toronto Film Critics Association Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Visual Effects Society||Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Tim Alexander, Hal Hickel, Jacqui Lopez, Katie Lynch||Won|
|Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Frank Gravatt, Kevin Martel, Brian Paik, Steve Walton||Won|
|Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||John Bell, Polly Ing, Martin Murphy, Russell Paul||Won|
|Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Colin Benoit, Philippe Rebours, Nelson Sepulveda, Nick Walker||Won|
|2012 People's Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Animated Voice||Johnny Depp||Won|
- This was the first Nickelodeon movie to win the Academy Award for Animated Feature Film, and the first Nickelodeon movie to be nominated since Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius. It was also the first animated film not produced by Pixar film to win the award since 2007.
- Throught the entire film, it contains a number of references to various Western and other films, including The Shakiest Gun in the West, A Fistful of Dollars, Chinatown, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, Cat Ballou, Raising Arizona, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; and references to earlier ILM work, including the dogfight in the Death Star trench in Star Wars: A New Hope.
- In addition to winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, this film was also nominated for the same category at the Golden Globe Awards, which lost to fellow Nickelodeon film The Adventures of Tintin.
- The song that plays when Rango becomes an Outcast was actually used in another film called The Kingdom, composed by Danny Elfman.
- Despite being a Nickelodeon film, it initially did not air on the main flagship channel following the controversy, after two years of its original release. However, it did air on a number of non-Viacom-owned TV channels, such as FXM, Cartoon Network, and Discovery Family. Nickelodeon eventually aired the film on January 1, 2018.
- This is the first Nickelodeon animated film not to use cartoon sound effects, due to having a more realistic theme.
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- Weekend Report: 'Wimpy Kid' Blindsides 'Sucker Punch'
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- The DVD director's commentary track mentions Star Wars during this sequence.