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THE ANT BULLY

About The Production
"Imagine a whole world you know nothing about yet probably step over every day. It could be a dynamic, hidden universe that exists in your own backyard,” suggests The Ant Bully writer/director John A. Davis, creator of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and a man who admittedly gets some of his wildest creative ideas by "tapping into things that excited and entertained me as a kid.”

If that world lies in the underground tunnels and secret chambers of a bustling ant colony, a person would have to be fairly tiny to get inside and take a good look around. And that's exactly what happens to Lucas Nickle (Zack Tyler Eisen), a 10-year-old boy tormented by a bully, who has unfortunately become something of a bully himself by venting his frustration on the helpless insects living in his lawn. He thinks nothing of spraying them with water or stomping them with his sneakered feet every time the neighborhood tough kid pushes him around.

Establishing the ants' point of view, The Ant Bully shows the disastrous results of Lucas casually blasting their home with a garden hose—unleashing, at the subterranean level, "a huge flood sequence, with ants running for their lives,” says Davis. "Lucas would never suspect that he's causing this kind of chaos and carnage just by dumping water on some ants.” But all that's about to change.

Through a magic elixir prepared by Wizard Ant Zoc (Nicolas Cage), Lucas is suddenly miniaturized, kidnapped from his bedroom and taken deep into the ant burrow to stand trial for his wanton destruction. Once below, he is absolutely amazed and more than a little nervous to discover that the ants have a vast and complex civilization with rules and responsibility, where every individual has a job to do for the greater good.

Most incredible of all, he realizes for the first time in his life that these tenacious little creatures he once dismissed as "just a bunch of stupid ants” have thoughts and emotions just like him, not to mention a whole lot of attitude…and at the moment they're all hopping mad at him, the one they call Lucas the Destroyer.

"When you first see the ants from Lucas' vantage point, they look like real ants, small and indistinct, the way we would view them from the distance of our great human height,” Davis observes. "But when we cut down to their level, we see they have individual expressive faces and we get that first inkling, as does Lucas eventually, that things are not always what they seem. That was one of the things that attracted me to the project: the idea of creating this alien realm completely out of the ordinary, which we get to peek inside.”

"What human being hasn't fantasized about being the size of an ant and living in their world,” says The Ant Bully producer Tom Hanks. "There's something almost cozy about how they live—we've seen them in our toy ant farms—and the togetherness of the colony seems cheerful when you apply an anthropomorphic sense. That makes the story of Lucas' adventures with the ants awfully attractive.”

It was Hanks who brought the popular 1999 Scholastic Press children's book to Davis' attention. "My son came home from kindergarten with a book he had checked out from the library, John Nickle's The Ant Bully,” he relates. "Reading it together, we weren't halfway through before I thought it would make a wonderful movie. John Davis' Jimmy Neutron had just come out then, and I felt the match of his talent with Nickle's story would be perfect.”

Released in 2001, the 3D animated feature Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was a labor of love from Davis and computer animation partner Keith Alcorn (an executive producer on The Ant Bully) from their Texas-based DNA Productions. Their feature film debut, it earned writer/director/producer Davis a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination and fueled the Jimmy Neutron Nickelodeon series, develo

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