Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a 2003 American animated adventure film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by DreamWorks Pictures, using traditional animation with some computer animation. It was directed by Tim Johnson and Patrick Gilmore from a screenplay by John Logan, and stars the voices of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Joseph Fiennes. The film covers the story of Sinbad (voiced by Pitt), a pirate who travels the sea to recover the lost Book of Peace from Eris (voiced by Pfeiffer) to save his childhood friend, Prince Proteus (voiced by Fiennes), from accepting Sinbad's death sentence. The film blends elements from the 1001 Arabian Nights and classical myths.
Legend of the Seven Seas
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tim Johnson|
|Produced by||Jeffrey Katzenberg|
|Screenplay by||John Logan|
|Based on||Sinbad the Sailor|
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Edited by||Tom Finan|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures|
|Box office||$80.7 million|
The film was released on July 2, 2003 and received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the voice performances but criticized the CGI animation and storyline. Grossing $80.7 million on a $60 million budget, Sinbad is considered the biggest box office bomb of 2003. DreamWorks suffered a $125 million loss on a string of films in 2003, which nearly bankrupted the company and caused it to abandon traditional animation in favor of computer animation.
Sinbad and his pirate crew attempt to steal the magical "Book of Peace" and hold it for ransom as one last job before retiring to Fiji. Sinbad is surprised to see it is being protected while on board to Syracuse, Sicily by Prince Proteus of Syracuse. Proteus was once Sinbad's best friend as a child and he tells him if it ever meant anything he can prove it. Sinbad tries to steal the book anyway, but is prevented when Cetus attacks the ship. The two work together to fight off Cetus and for a moment reaffirm their bond. Just when it seems the beast is defeated, Sinbad is dragged off the ship. Proteus goes to save Sinbad, but he is stopped by his crew.
Drawn underwater by Cetus, Sinbad is saved by the beautiful Goddess of Discord, Eris, who offers him any boon he desires in exchange for the Book of Peace. Sinbad and his crew go to Syracuse to steal the Book, but leave without doing so. Anticipating this, Eris impersonates Sinbad and steals the Book. Sinbad is sentenced to death, whereupon Proteus sends Sinbad to retrieve the Book instead, placing himself as a hostage, and Proteus' fiancée Lady Marina goes to make sure that Sinbad succeeds. To prevent them from succeeding, Eris sends a group of mythical sirens, who entrance and seduce the men aboard Sinbad's ship with their hypnotic singing voices, but do not affect Marina, who pilots the ship to safety. The Goddess of Discord later sends a Roc which captures Marina, but she is rescued by Sinbad.
After these and other incidents, Sinbad and Marina talk in a brief moment of peace - Marina reveals that she's always dreamed of a life on the sea, and Sinbad reveals that he distanced himself from Proteus 10 years earlier because he loved Marina. They suddenly then reach and enter Eris' realm where she reveals that her plan was to maneuver Proteus into Sinbad's place, leaving Syracuse without an heir, and agrees to surrender the Book of Peace only if Sinbad truthfully tells whether he will return to Syracuse to accept blame and be executed if he does not get the Book. She gives him her word that she will honour the deal, making it unbreakable even for a god. When he answers that he will return, Eris calls him a liar, and returns him and Marina to the mortal world. Ashamed, Sinbad admits the Goddess of Discord is right, truly believing deep down that he is a selfish, black-hearted liar.
In Syracuse, the time allotted to Sinbad has elapsed. Proteus readies himself to be beheaded, but at the last minute, Sinbad appears and takes his place. An enraged Eris appears suddenly and saves Sinbad by shattering the executioner's sword to pieces. Sinbad, shocked, realizes that this was still part of her test and that he has beaten her by proving his answer to be true after all. Eris is furious but cannot go back on her word and gives the book to Sinbad. Eris then leaves to cause chaos elsewhere. With the true culprit revealed, Sinbad is pardoned for the crime of stealing the book and is now well-respected.
With the Book restored to Syracuse, Sinbad and his crew prepare to leave on another voyage, leaving Marina in Syracuse. Unbeknownst to him, Proteus sees that Marina has fallen deeply in love with Sinbad and life on the sea and releases her from their engagement, sending her to join Sinbad's ship. Marina surprises Sinbad by revealing her presence on the ship just as it begins to sail, and the two share a kiss. Now together, they and the crew set out on another long voyage as the ship sails into the sunset.
During his time with Walt Disney Animation Studios, Katzenberg suggested the idea of an animated Sinbad movie to Disney CEO Michael Eisner, but Eisner rejected the idea. When forming DreamWorks, Katzenberg brought old scrapped ideas from Disney for the DreamWorks animation division, this included a collaboration with Aardman Animations, an animated adaptation of The Ten Commandments, a movie about ants and Sinbad.
The monsters and the backgrounds in the film are mostly computer-generated, while the human characters are hand-drawn.
Russell Crowe was originally going to voice Sinbad, but he dropped out due to scheduling problems. He was replaced by Brad Pitt, who wanted to make a film his nieces and nephews could see. He explained: "They can't get into my movies. People's heads getting cut off, and all that." Pitt had already tried to narrate DreamWorks' previous animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, but "it didn't work," with Matt Damon taking over the role. Pitt's purist intentions worried him that his Missourian accent would not be suitable for his Middle Eastern character. Despite that, the film-makers persuaded him that his accent would lighten the mood.
Michelle Pfeiffer, who voices Eris, the goddess of chaos, had struggles with finding the character's villainies. Initially the character was "too sexual," then she lacked fun. After the third rewrite, Pfeiffer called Jeffrey Katzenberg and told him "You know, you really can fire me," but he assured her that this was just part of the process.
A PC game based on the film was released by Atari, who worked closely with one of the film's directors, Patrick Gilmore. It was released before the VHS and DVD release of the film. Burger King released six promotional toys at the time of the film's release, and each toy came with a "Constellation Card" Hasbro Inc. produced a series of Sinbad figures as part of its G.I. JOE action figure brand. The figures were 12" tall and came with a mythical monster.
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas was released on DVD and VHS on November 18, 2003 by DreamWorks Home Entertainment. The DVD included a six-minute interactive short animated film Cyclops Island, featuring an encounter with the eponymous Cyclops. In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures (owners of the pre-2005 DreamWorks Pictures library) and transferred to 20th Century Fox before reverting to Universal Studios in 2018; Universal Pictures Home Entertainment subsequently released the film on Blu-ray Disc on June 4, 2019 with the Cyclops Island short removed.
Cyclops Island (also known as Sinbad and the Cyclops Island) is a traditionally animated interactive short film that acts as a sequel to Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, taking place shortly after the events of the previous film.
Instead of travelling to Fiji, Sinbad and his crew decide to spend their vacation on the tropical island of Krakatoa. While attempting to find a source of fresh water on the island, Marina and Spike run into a tribe of Cyclops who they have to defeat with the help of Sinbad, Kale and Rat. When Sinbad dislodges a large boulder during the fight, a volcano erupts and the island goes down in flames. Marina then suggests looking for a nicer destination for their next holiday, such as Pompeii.
While watching the short film on DVD, the viewer can choose to follow different characters to see different angles of the same story. The viewer can follow Sinbad, the duo of Kale and Rat, Marina, or Spike. Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dennis Haysbert and Adriano Giannini all reprised their roles from the original film. On VHS releases, the short film takes place after the movie ends before the credits roll and is placed in its entirety.
Rotten Tomatoes reported that 45% of its critics gave positive reviews, based on 125 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Competent, but not magical." Metacritic gave the film a 48/100 approval rating based on 33 reviews. However, Roger Ebert gave the film 31⁄2 stars and concluded that, "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is another worthy entry in the recent renaissance of animation, and in the summer that has already given us Finding Nemo, it's a reminder that animation is the most liberating of movie genres, freed of gravity, plausibility, and even the matters of lighting and focus. There is no way that Syracuse could exist outside animation, and as we watch it, we are sailing over the edge of the human imagination".
That the film removes the story from its Arabic context and places it in a Greek setting earned it some criticism. Jack Shaheen, a critic of Hollywood's portrayal of Arabs, believed that "the studio feared financial and possibly political hardships if they made the film's hero Arab", and claimed that "If no attempt is made to challenge negative stereotypes about Arabs, the misperceptions continue. It's regrettable that the opportunity wasn't taken to change them, especially in the minds of young people". At one point, Shaheen asked Katzenberg to include some references to Arabic culture in the film. According to Shaheen: "He didn't seem surprised that I mentioned it, which presumably means that it was discussed early on in the development of the film."
On the film's opening weekend, the film earned $6,874,477 for a $2,227 average from 3,086 theaters, and $10,056,980 since its Wednesday start. It reached sixth place at the box office and faced early competition to Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Finding Nemo, and Hulk. The week after release, the similar Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl premiered, eventually becoming the third most successful film of the year. Sinbad declined 37% in its second week to $4,310,834 for a $1,396 average from 3,086 theaters, finishing seventh. The film closed on October 9, 2003, after earning $26,483,452 in the United States and Canada and $54,284,432 overseas, for a worldwide total of $80,767,884.
DreamWorks Animation suffered a $125 million loss on other projects that weren't offset by this film, leading Katzenberg to comment, "I think the idea of a traditional story being told using traditional animation is likely a thing of the past."
All music composed by Harry Gregson-Williams, except as noted.
|1.||"Let the Games Begin"||3:04|
|2.||"The Book of Peace"||1:41|
|3.||"The Sea Monster"||3:32|
|7.||"Eris Steals the Book"||1:53|
|13.||"The Giant Fish"||1:05|
|18.||"Is It the Shore or the Sea?"||3:28|
|20.||"Marina's Love / Proteus' Execution"||2:02|
|21.||"Sinbad Returns and Eris Pays Up"||7:45|
|22.||"Into the Sunset / End Credits"||2:22|
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The company nearly went bankrupt twice, Geffen said during a panel discussion in New York this year, adding that when the animated film "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas" flopped in 2003, the resulting $125-million loss nearly sank his company.
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