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Penguins of Madagascar (released on home video as Penguins of Madagascar: The Movie) is a 2014 American computer-animated spy action comedy film[10] produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Starring the voices of Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich and Ken Jeong, it is a spin-off of the Madagascar film series and takes place right after the events of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted,[11] following the penguins Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private in their own adventure.[10] Apart from the main characters, it is not directly related to the Nickelodeon TV series of the same name.

Directed by Simon J. Smith and Eric Darnell[12] from a script written by Michael Colton, John Aboud[1] and Brandon Sawyer,[3] Penguins of Madagascar was released theatrically on November 26, 2014 in both 2D and 3D,[1] making it the only film in the Madagascar franchise to be distributed by 20th Century Fox as well as the final DreamWorks Animation film to be produced by Pacific Data Images prior to its closure on January 22, 2015, as well as DWA Glendale taking over.[13] While the film received generally positive reviews from critics, it also underperformed at the US box office (forcing a write-down for the studio), but did better internationally, grossing $373 million on a $132 million budget.[14]


Prior to the events of the original film, Skipper, Rico, and Kowalski are chicks in a penguin colony in Antarctica. An egg rolls away from the colony, and the trio rescue it from leopard seals, but are set adrift on an iceberg. The egg hatches, and the trio name their new baby "brother" Private.

Ten years later, after the events of the third film, the Penguins celebrate Private's birthday by breaking into Fort Knox, to get Cheesy Dibbles from a vending machine, though what Private really wants is to no longer be considered a "cute face/mascot" but a member of the team. The machine comes to life and kidnaps the penguins. The kidnapper is revealed to be Dave, an octopus who lived in the Central Park Zoo as a star attraction, until the penguins arrived and stole his popularity with their sheer cuteness. After being passed between zoos and aquariums as an unwanted animal, Dave disguised himself as a human scientist named Dr. Octavius Brine to enact his revenge. Rico swallows Dave's snowglobe collection and a vial of serum, and the penguins fight off Dave's octopus henchmen and escape.

Fleeing through Venice, the penguins are rescued by agents of the North Wind, an inter-species intelligence agency. "Classified", the wolf leader, informs the penguins that Dave has invented a bioweapon called the "Medusa Serum". Rico regurgitates the serum to show Classified and his colleagues: polar bear Corporal, harp seal demolitionist Short Fuse, and snowy owl intelligence officer Eva, with whom Kowalski develops a crush on. Dave hacks into the North Wind computers and reveals he has far more of the serum. Penguins then start disappearing from exhibits all over the world; seeing them as "just penguins" and fearing that they will disrupt the investigation, Classified sends them via plane to a safehouse on Madagascar.

The penguins escapes the plane, making their way to Shanghai. Using clues from Dave's snowglobes, they deduce the next zoo attacked will be Shanghai Zoo itself. Private, much to his chagrin, is dressed up as bait for Dave while the others lie in wait. The North Wind intervenes, and Private and the rest of the Shanghai penguins are captured; Skipper, Rico, and Kowalski attempt to steal Classified's jet and accidentally blow it up. The North Wind trace Private to Dave's lair and travel there by boat, with the three penguins towed behind on a wok without food or water as punishment.

Dave demonstrates his plan to mutate all penguins into monsters, so humans will hate them and try to kill them all. Skipper, Rico, and Kowalski reluctantly agree to act as a diversion while Classified leads his team into Dave's submarine; however, both the penguins and the North Wind are captured. Dave attempts to zap Private with his Medusa serum ray, but Private escapes. The others believe that Private has been disintegrated. Dave uses the serum on the rest of the penguins, while Private frees the North Wind. Having lost their weapons, they decide to go back to base to regroup, but Private refuses to abandon his brothers and stays behind.

Dave releases the mutated penguins on New York City, inciting a panic. As exterminators try to vacuum up the Penguins with street sweepers, Private steals the ray. He manages to find his brothers and explains his plan - if they replace the Medusa Serum capsule with him, he, as a "source of immeasurable cuteness", can be used to turn all the penguins normal. After an extended battle with Dave and his lackeys, during which the North Wind return and blow up Dave's submarine, Skipper manages to activate the ray. All penguins are turned back to normal, while Dave is trapped in a snowglobe after being transformed into a tiny version of himself, which a child decides to take home. Private is mutated into a grotesque form, but he is hailed as a hero. Eva and Kowalski become a couple and Classified apologizes for his distrusting the penguins and gifts them four North Wind jet packs.

In a mid-credits scene, the penguins use Mort in the ray to return Private to normal. King Julien is disappointed that Mort was not affected by it, until he suddenly tries to eat him.


John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch talking at the Penguins of Madagascar panel at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International

  • Tom McGrath as Skipper, the leader of the penguins.[15]
  • Chris Miller as Kowalski, the brains of the penguins.[15]
  • Christopher Knights as Private, the rookie of the penguins.[15]
  • Conrad Vernon as Rico,[16] the loose cannon of the penguins. Vernon replaces John DiMaggio as the voice of Rico in this film.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Agent Classified, a Eurasian wolf with a British accent. He is the North Wind's team leader.[1][17][18][19]
  • Ken Jeong as Short Fuse, a Belgian white-coated harp seal and a member of the North Wind who serves as their expert in explosives and demolitions.[12]
  • Annet Mahendru as Eva, a Russian snowy owl with a matching accent, Kowalski's love interest/girlfriend, and the North Wind's intelligence analyst.[15]
  • Peter Stormare as Corporal, a Norwegian polar bear and a member of the North Wind who serves as the muscle.[15]
  • John Malkovich as Dave / Dr. Octavius Brine, a villainous and disgruntled octopus who has the human disguise.[1][15][20]
  • Werner Herzog as Himself (credited as "Documentary Filmmaker".)[21]

Danny Jacobs and Andy Richter voice King Julien XIII (in place of Sacha Baron Cohen) and Mort in the mid-credits scene.


A direct-to-video film featuring the penguins had been in the works since 2005 when the first Madagascar film was released, with a release date initially planned for 2009.[22] The studio announced in March 2011 that the penguin characters would be given their own theatrical feature film to be directed by Simon J. Smith, the co-director of Bee Movie, produced by Lara Breay, and written by Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, the writers of DreamWorks' Megamind.[23][24]

At the July 2012 Comic-Con, DreamWorks Animation announced that the film, titled The Penguins of Madagascar, would be released in 2015.[25] Robert Schooley, one of the producers of The Penguins of Madagascar series, said that the film would be unrelated to the TV series of the same name, but added that that could always change.[26] In early September 2012, 20th Century Fox, the studio's new distributor, and DreamWorks Animation announced a release date of March 27, 2015 and a new pair of writers, Michael Colton and John Aboud.[27] Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich joined the cast in August 2013.[1] Malkovich, who had been offered the role of Dr. Octavius Brine three and a half years before the film's release, told an audience at the July 2014 Comic-Con that he thought that it "was a funny idea" to use his voice for an octopus.[28]


On May 20, 2014, the film's release date was moved up to November 26, 2014 from its initial March 27, 2015 date, switching places with DreamWorks Animation's other film Home.[29] Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation's CEO, reasoned that the film, coming from one of DWA's most successful franchises, would have an easier task to stand out around the Thanksgiving holiday season while Home was to try taking advantage of a less competitive spring release window and repeat successful spring launches of some of DWA's original films, such as The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon.[30] The film was released two weeks earlier in China on November 14, 2014, where it was released by Oriental DreamWorks.[31]

The film was released in RealD 3D and Digital 3D formats.[6] It was digitally remastered into the IMAX format, and released in select theaters across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.[32] A four-issue comic book series based on the film was published by Titan Comics, written by Alex Matthews and drawn by Lucas Fereyra.[33]

Home media[]

Penguins of Madagascar was released on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on March 17, 2015.[34] It topped the home video sales chart in its first week.[35]


Box office[]

Penguins of Madagascar grossed $83.4 million in North America and $290.2 million in foreign countries for a worldwide total of $373.6 million.[9] The film's production budget was $132 million, which, according to the DreamWorks Animation's president Ann Dally, excluded "incentive-based compensation."[8] By the end of 2014, the studio had to take a $57.1 million write-down, primarily related to the performances of Penguins of Madagascar and another DreamWorks Animation film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman.[14][36]

Penguins of Madagascar was released on November 26, 2014 in North America and Canada across 3,764 theatres. It earned $6.25 million on its opening day and $3.95 million the next day on Thanksgiving Day.[37] It earned $10.5 million on Black Friday.[38][39] The film underperformed during its opening weekend earning $25.4 million and debuting at #2 at the box office behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, for which 3D accounted for 24% of its opening-weekend gross.[40] The opening-weekend audience was evenly split among those under and over the age of 25, with 58% and female accounted 51%.[41]

The film was released in China on November 14,[31] two weeks ahead of its North American debut, and earned $11.3 million from 3,500 screens, debuting at number two at the Chinese box office behind Interstellar ($42 million).[42] In its opening weekend, the film earned $36.5 million from 47 markets.[43] Overall, the top openings were in Russia ($8.2 million), Korea ($6 million), Italy ($4.63 million), Germany ($4.2 million), and Australia ($3.68 million).[44][45] The film's opening in Germany was the second-highest for an animated film in 2014, behind How to Train Your Dragon 2.[44]

Critical response[]

The film has a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 110 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's consensus was "Penguins of Madagascar is fast and brightly colored enough to entertain small children, but too frantically silly to offer real filmgoing fun for the whole family."[46] On Metacritic, the film achieved a score of 53 out of 100 based on reviews from 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[47] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A–.[48]

Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, saying "While there are plenty of madcap antics to fill a feature, all that manic energy ultimately proves to be more exhausting than exhilarating."[49] Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News gave the film three out of five stars, saying "Granted, it's no classic, but a sassy script and good-natured voice work from Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich should keep kids and grownups entertained over the holidays."[50] Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club gave the film a B, saying "Frenetic and frequently funny, Penguins Of Madagascar represents the DreamWorks Animation franchise style—which boils down to self-aware, but naïve, talking animals who learn kid-friendly life lessons—at its most palatable."[51] Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, saying "The lack of originality is offset by sheer silliness, including Classified and Skipper's Abbott and Costello-style argument over whether there's a long I in 'diversion.' The word fits the movie."[52]

Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Once again the Madagascar team have come up with a winner – a nice way to kick off the Thanksgiving and holiday filmgoing experience for the whole family."[53] Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film one out of four stars, saying "Penguins of Madagascar is a lazy, noisy ADHD-addled collection of animated clichés guaranteed to give anyone older than 5 a headache, even if you don't see it in optional 3-D."[54] Jeff Labrecque of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C-, saying "Penguins of Madagascar aims primarily for the kiddies, racing from one frenetic action sequence to another like some haywire Walter Lantz cartoon."[55]

Awards and nominations[]

List of awards and nominations
Award/Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
42nd Annie Awards[56] Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Production Mitul Patel, Nicolas Delbecq, Santosh Khedkar and Yash Argawal Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Ravi Kamble Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Craig Kellman, Joe Moshier, Stevie Lewis and Todd Kurosawa Nominated
51st Cinema Audio Society Awards[57] Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Picture - Animated Tighe Sheldon, Paul N.J. Ottosson, Dennis Sands and Randy K. Singer Nominated
28th Kids' Choice Awards[58] Favorite Animated Movie Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith Nominated
11th St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards[59] Best Animated Film Nominated


Penguins of Madagascar: Music from the Motion Picture
Film score by
Lorne Balfe
ReleasedNovember 25, 2014 (2014-11-25)
GenreFilm score
LabelRelativity Music Group
ProducerHans Zimmer
DreamWorks Animation chronology
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Penguins of Madagascar

Lorne Balfe composed the original score for the film,[60] making it his first solo debut in a DreamWorks Animation film. Balfe wrote the additional music for the previous two Madagascar films and helped Madagascar composer Hans Zimmer with the score for Megamind. The soundtrack was released on November 25, 2014, by Relativity Music Group.[60] Relativity also released an EP, Penguins of Madagascar: Black & White Christmas Album, which featured five holiday songs.[60] Pitbull performed a song titled "Celebrate" for the film, which was played during the credits. A music video of the song was also released on YouTube in October 21, 2014.

1."The Penguins of Madagascar"4:10
9."Private’s Theme"2:34
11."Eudyptula Minor"1:35
19."He Is Dave" (featuring Antony Genn)3:14

Video game[]

A video game based on the film, titled Penguins of Madagascar, and published by Little Orbit, was released on November 25, 2014 for Nintendo 3DS, Wii, and Wii U.[61]


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External links[]

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