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MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA

About The Production
In the summer of 2005, "Madagascar” scored big with both domestic and international audiences, racking up more than half-a-billion at the worldwide box office, making it the top family comedy of the year. Once the fancy-footed lion, a quick talking zebra, an anxiety-ridden giraffe and a smart ‘n saucy hippo were released into theaters around the globe, these four New York friends—better known as Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria—became the most popular quartet of the season.

Writer/director Eric Darnell remembers being relieved by the reception of "Madagascar,” but not really that surprised. He says, "‘Madagascar' was a success because it had these entertaining and enjoyable characters that people could identify with—they also connected with them on a human level. And despite their flaws, their issues, their anxieties, whatever problems they may be facing, you always empathize with them and want them to come through.”

Writer/director Tom McGrath continues, "We just fell in love with the characters that we created along with Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith—and clearly, everyone else did, too. We had this great ensemble cast that we just totally loved. We took on the theme of civility versus savagery and turned that into a friendship story about these zoo animals, when their bonds were tested once they got into the wild. Even at the time we ended the first movie—before it became this huge hit—we were thinking that we could do so much more with these characters.”

Producer Mireille Soria also reasons, "There is something about the design that people love. And I think that's part of it—they're very graphic—along with being smart and funny. The first movie was about the importance of friendship and what it means to be a good friend. One of the things that is so great about New York is its diversity, and that is reflected in our group—a lion, a giraffe, a zebra and a hippo who are best friends. And that was something we thought we could explore even further. And we could also celebrate that.”

It was this desire to continue the exploration of the four zoosters that the "Madagascar” filmmakers and DreamWorks Animation's Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg took with them onto a jet bound for the European premiere. McGrath explains, "Even before the movie became as popular as it was, we wanted to do another movie with the characters. We were on our way to Europe and on that plane, we just started hashing out a story—what if our characters went to Africa, their homeland where they supposedly belong? This was a wonderful way to continue the ‘fish out of water' story—four New Yorkers on the plains of Africa.”

While the original directors and producer began to explore this new storyline, "Madagascar” continued to play to enthusiastic response from moviegoers everywhere. As the new project began to take shape, producer Mark Swift joined the team. Swift says, "While Mireille was busy finishing ‘Madagascar,' I worked on the short with the penguins called ‘A Christmas Caper.' So I guess the penguins brought me into the second film.”

For Darnell and McGrath, it meant the continuance of a working relationship that had already proved to be a good one. Per Darnell: "The reason why Tom and I work so well together, I think, is because we can take each other's ideas, turn them around and take them to the next level—we bounce them back and forth and come up with something that's stronger than the sum of the parts. We try to be together as often as we can, approve things together and try to work as one mind as much as possible. Sometimes the needs of production demand that we split up—one of us in animation, one of us in a recording session—and we do that when we have to. But, frankly, the more we're together in the same place at the same time, the

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