Chimpanzee (film)

Chimpanzee is a 2012 nature documentary film about a young common chimpanzee named Oscar who finds himself alone in the African forests until he is adopted by another chimpanzee who takes him in and treats him like his own child.[3][4] The American release of the film is narrated by Tim Allen.

Chimpanzee 2012 film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlastair Fothergill
Mark Linfield
Produced byAlastair Fothergill
Mark Linfield
Alix Tidmarsh
Written byAlastair Fothergill
Mark Linfield
Don Hahn
Narrated byTim Allen
Music byNicholas Hooper
CinematographyMartyn Colbeck (Ivory Coast)
Bill Wallauer (Uganda)
Edited byAndy Netley
Great Ape Productions
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • April 20, 2012 (2012-04-20) (United States)
  • February 20, 2013 (2013-02-20) (France)
  • May 3, 2013 (2013-05-03) (United Kingdom)
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom
Budget$5 million[1]
Box office$34.8 million[2]

The film was produced by Disneynature and directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield. It is the sixth[5] nature documentary released under the Disneynature label, following Earth, The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos, Oceans, Wings of Life, and African Cats. It was released in theaters on April 20, 2012, just before Earth Day, April 22.


Oscar is the nickname of a young chimpanzee in his toddler years. He is part of a close-knit tribe of chimpanzees. They occupy a forest territory which is rich in native fruits, nuts, and figs. The chimps hunt small tree monkeys, and they also eat termites collected with primitive tools made from sticks. They also use rocks as tools to crack nuts. Oscar is tended by his mother, nicknamed Isha, and from her he begins learning many things about how to survive in the jungle. In the chaos of an attack by a rival gang of chimpanzees led by 'Scar', Isha is injured and separated from the group and her son. As told by the narrator, Isha most probably falls victim to a nocturnal leopard.

Unaware of his mother's death, Oscar spends much of his time looking for her. He has trouble recalling the things she taught him and loses weight quickly. He attempts to find another mother to take care of him. However, none of the females in the group can afford to help him, already having young of their own to raise. As time goes on, Oscar is rejected by every single chimp in the group, until the only one left to approach is the tough-skinned alpha male, nicknamed Freddy. As Oscar follows Freddy and imitates him, it is soon revealed that this unlikely pairing may work out. The two gradually warm up to each other more and more, until one day Freddy lets Oscar ride on his back, something normally only mother chimps do.

As the rivals prepare for attack, Freddy is forced to take time away from Oscar to organize the other members of the group, and this leaves the young chimp confused. Scar leads a vicious attack, but because of the unity of Freddy's group, they are driven away into the jungle. A few months later, it is revealed that the bond between Freddy and Oscar has continued to grow, and that life in the group is slowly returning to normal.


The film took over four years to create, due to the difficulties of filming in Taï National Park during the wet season and capturing usable footage of common chimpanzees, a species that is known to act reclusive to human activity.[6]

Allegedly "Oscar" was portrayed by several chimpanzees in the movie.[7]

Although studies suggest that chimpanzees are capable of committing acts of altruism, Oscar's adoption is the first instance of such an action by the species to be documented on film.[8][9]


Chimpanzee had its world premiere at Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Among the attendees were directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, producer Don Hahn, and primatologist Jane Goodall.[10]

Similar to past Disneynature releases, a portion of the film's opening week proceeds were donated to the Jane Goodall Institute for the "See Chimpanzee, Save Chimpanzees" program to help protect chimpanzees and their habitats. Disney donated $0.20 of every ticket sold, with $100,000 being the bare minimum.[11] After the film's successful debut, Disney extended the campaign into the second weekend.[12]

The film was released in the UK on 3 May 2013.


The McClain Sisters wrote and performed the song "Rise" to be featured as the end credits song for Chimpanzee. The song was released on iTunes on March 23, 2012 and peaked at #4 on Billboard's Kid Digital Songs charts. Its release was in support of Disney's Friends for Change.

Critical receptionEdit

Chimpanzee was met with generally positive critical reception; based on 93 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently holds a 74% "Certified Fresh" approval rating from critics, with an average score of 6.4/10 and the consensus: "Chimpanzee often anthropomorphizes its subjects, but it's a beautifully filmed, remarkably intimate look at the lives of a family of primates."[13] CinemaScore audiences gave the film a grade "A" rating on an A+ to F scale.[14]


  1. ^ "Chimpanzee (2012)". The Wrap. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  2. ^ "Chimpanzee (2012)". Box Office Mojo.
  3. ^ Dimako, Peter (2011-04-22). "CHIMPANZEE trailer". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
  4. ^ Kilday, Gregg (2009-05-19). "Disneynature starts up two new films". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  5. ^ "Disney launches new film label" (PDF). 21 April 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  6. ^ Fine, Marshall (19 April 2012). "Movie review: Chimpanzee". Huffington Post. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  7. ^ von Leszczynski, Ulrike (19 May 2013). "Film Chimpanzee leads to questions over the 'truth'". Gulf Times. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  8. ^ Moskowitz, Clara. "Altruistic Chimpanzees Adopt Orphans". LiveScience. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  9. ^ Heartlaub, Peter (20 April 2012). "Chimpanzee's success lies in staying true to nature's ways". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  10. ^ Busdeker, Jon (17 April 2012). "Jane Goodall attends the 'Chimpanzee' premiere". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  11. ^ Kirk, Jeremy. "Box Office Prediction: 'The Hunger Games' Set to Go Down in the Fourth". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  12. ^ Horon, Sonia. "Disney Extends 'Chimpanzee' Donations". Global Animal. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  13. ^ "Chimpanzee". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 24, 2012.
  14. ^ McClintock, Pamela (21 April 2012). "Box Office Report: 'Think Like a Man' Eyes $30 Mil Debut; 'Lucky One' Also Overperforms". The Hollywood Reporter.

External linksEdit