ⓘ The BFG (2016 film)

The BFG (2016 film)

ⓘ The BFG (2016 film)

The BFG is a 2016 American fantasy animation adventure film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, written by Melissa Mathison and based on the 1982 novel of the same name by Dahl. The film stars Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall and Bill Hader. In the film, a 10-year-old orphaned girl named Sophie befriends a benevolent giant dubbed the "Big Friendly Giant", who takes her to Giant Country, where they attempt to stop the man-eating giants that are invading the human world.

Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall began development on a live-action adaptation of The BFG back in the 1990s, and various screenwriters were hired to work on the screenplay in the subsequent years. DreamWorks acquired the screen rights to Dahls book in September 2011, and Marshall and Sam Mercer joined as producers, Mathison as screenwriter and Kennedy as executive producer. Spielberg was announced as director in April 2014, alongside his production company Amblin Entertainment as co-producer. Principal photography commenced in March 2015, marking Spielbergs first directorial film for Walt Disney Pictures, which co-financed the film.

The BFG premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2016, and held its North American debut at the El Capitan Theater on June 21, 2016. The film was released in the United States in Disney Digital 3-D, RealD 3D, IMAX 3D, and conventional theatrical formats on July 1, 2016, the same year of Dahls centennial. Although the film received generally positive reviews from critics, it grossed only $183 million against its $140 million budget, making it a box office bomb.


1. Plot

Sophie, a 10-year-old girl who lives in a London orphanage after her parents died when she was a baby, stays awake reading through the nights due to her insomnia. At 3 in the morning, or what she calls the "witching hour", she sees an elderly giant outside her window who captures her and takes her into Giant Country. There, he explains that Sophie must stay with him for the rest of her life because she saw him and must not be allowed to reveal the existence of giants. He also explains that she will put herself at risk if she goes out in the open, as nine other giants all of whom are much larger than him and favor the taste of children inhabit Giant Country.

When Sophie awakes, the Fleshlumpeater, the infantile leader of the man-eating giants, enters the smaller giants home and smells Sophie. The Fleshlumpeater nearly devours Sophie before exiting. The giant gives Sophie some replacement clothes, as hers are ruined, and Sophie convinces him to take her to Dream Country to catch dreams together. As they leave, they accidentally wake up the Bloodbottler, the more intelligent and cunning second-in-command to the Fleshlumpeater, who awakens the other man-eating giants. They torment and bully the friendly giant by throwing him around like a football and rolling him down a hill in a garbage truck. As the pair escape during a thunderstorm which drives the man-eating giants into the cave, the Fleshlumpeater and the Bloodbottler find Sophies blanket which she had dropped before and plan to find her. Climbing up the mountain, Sophie tells the giant that he shouldnt allow the other giants to bully him.

The pair arrives in Dream Country and catch a dream each. While there, the giant reveals that his only other alias other than "Runt" which the other giants call him, as they are much larger is "the Big Friendly Giant" and Sophie decides to call him "BFG". The two then head to London to spread good dreams to sleeping children. As they do so, Sophie realizes that she has lost her blanket. The BFG realizes that the other man-eating giants know about her and she wakes up outside the orphanage. He explains that the last human child he took and raised was discovered and eaten by Fleshlumpeaters group. She throws herself out of her window in the hope he will appear again to catch her, and he does.

When they return to the BFGs home, the other giants barge in and upend the place looking for Sophie, destroying much of the BFGs hard work. Sophie evades detection and the enraged BFG finally stands up to them and drives them off with a hot fire iron. While hidden, Sophie finds the home of the last human to live with the BFG before becoming a victim of Fleshlumpeaters group. She leaves his jacket on his bed and finds a portrait of Queen Victoria amongst his belongings. From this she devises a plan to forge a nightmare and give it to Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom. The nightmare consists of giants eating the children of England, the British Army fighting the giants, and Sophie appearing on her windowsill.

They head to Buckingham Palace where upon waking from her nightmare, the Queen and her maid Mary find Sophie on the windowsill as in the nightmare with the BFG outside in the palace grounds. Sophie and the BFG inform the Queen, Mary, and Mr. Tibbs that the child-eating beasts in her dream are indeed real and must be stopped at all costs before they cause any more harm to her subjects. After a large breakfast they all enjoy, the Queen soon dispatches soldiers to Giant Country.

The BFG plans to give the man-eating giants the regretful nightmare Sophie caught the night before, so they will be more compliant once caught. As she smashes the jar, they are almost all immediately consumed by guilt, but the Fleshlumpeater awakens and intercepts the nightmare before it can affect him. Despite this, the British armys helicopters effortlessly ensnare and capture him and the other giants. They are lifted away onto an isolated island where numerous snozzcumbers and a large crate of snozzcumber seeds are left with them, much to their fury.

In the aftermath, Sophie begins living in the Queens palace with Mary while the BFG returns to Giant Country to resume giving dreams to people and begins growing a wide variety of vegetables inspired by his time in England. The film ends with Sophie narrating that whenever she feels lonely, which is less often than before, she talks to him. He can still hear her. Leaning out of her window, she says "Good Morning, BFG". At his writing desk, the BFG hears her words and smiles.


2. Cast

  • Paul Moniz de Sa as the voice and motion-capture of The Meatdripper, a well-groomed man-eating giant with Mohawk hair.
  • Ruby Barnhill as Sophie, an orphan who befriends The BFG. Roald Dahl named her after his own mother, who was similarly caring and determined.
  • Chris Shields, Matt Frewer, and Geoffrey Wade as The Queens Generals
  • Penelope Wilton as Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom.
  • Rebecca Hall as Mary, Queen Elizabeths maid.
  • Adam Godley as the voice and motion-capture of The Manhugger, a very tall and slim man-eating giant who wears a vest and shorts.
  • Bill Hader as the voice and motion-capture of The Bloodbottler, a disheveled 43-foot man-eating giant with cowlick hair who is Fleshlumpeaters advisor and the most intelligent of the group.
  • Jemaine Clement as the voice and motion-capture of The Fleshlumpeater, a 54-foot giant who is the de facto leader of the man-eating giants.
  • Jonathan Holmes as the voice and motion-capture of The Childchewer, a balding man-eating giant who is Meatdrippers best friend.
  • Rafe Spall as Mr. Tibbs, Queen Elizabeths butler.
  • Daniel Bacon as the voice and motion-capture of The Bonecruncher, a dark-skinned, bald-headed man-eating giant.
  • Chris Gibbs as the voice and motion-capture of The Gizzardgulper, a burly, bearded 39-foot man-eating giant who wears a helmet and is the shortest of the group.
  • Mark Rylance as the voice and motion-capture of The BFG, an elderly, benevolent 24-foot giant whose name is short for the "Big Friendly Giant". He is called "Runt" by the other giants.
  • Marilyn Norry as Mrs. Clonkers, the head of the orphanage where Sophie was living.
  • Olafur Darri Olafsson as the voice and motion-capture of The Maidmasher, a small-headed man-eating giant.
  • Michael Adamthwaite as the voice and motion-capture of The Butcher Boy, an overweight, immature man-eating giant who is the youngest of the group. He collects cars and wears clothes made of circus tents.

Adamthwaite, Bacon, Gibbs, Godley, Holmes, Moniz de Sa, and Olafsson also make cameos as minor London characters. William Samples and Ruby Barnhills father, Paul Barnhill, make cameos as the palace staff members.


3.1. Production Development

Producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy began development on a live-action adaptation of The BFG in 1991, and set the project up at Paramount Pictures. Husband and wife screenwriters Robin Swicord and Nicholas Kazan wrote a screenplay adaptation in 1998, with Robin Williams in negotiations for the title role. Williams attended a read-through, which according to Michael Siegel was "surprisingly disappointing". Williams trademark improvisational style clashed with the BFGs unique language. Siegel elaborates, "He was sort of improvising on the jumbled language. And it was clunky. It was strangely not working. It was harder than it looks even for Robin. It didnt quite deliver." By 2001, the script had been rewritten by Gwyn Lurie, and was greeted with positive feedback from the Dahl estate. Terry Jones and Ed Solomon also attempted screenplay drafts. While the screenplay lingered in development hell, Paramount subsequently lost the film rights and they reverted to the Dahl estate.

In September 2011, DreamWorks acquired the film rights to the book; Kennedy and Marshall were announced to produce, with screenwriter Melissa Mathison adapting the story. Initially, John Madden was hired to direct; however, in April 2014, Steven Spielberg was announced as the director, with Madden now listed as executive producer with producer Michael Siegel. Kennedy had initially thought of Spielberg as director, but hesitated asking him until a more concrete screenplay was presentable. Spielberg stated, The BFG has enchanted families and their children for more than three decades. We are honoured that the Roald Dahl estate has entrusted us with this classic story." Walden Media agreed to co-produce and co-finance the film with DreamWorks and Amblin in March 2015. A month later, Walt Disney Studios - which was under prior agreement to distribute the film through its Touchstone Pictures banner - also joined the production as a co-producer and co-financier, and shifted the film from a Touchstone release to a Walt Disney Pictures production instead. Consequently, The BFG is the first Disney-branded film directed by Spielberg, though he has previously produced several films for the studio. Similarly, as a result of Amblin Partners restructuring, DreamWorks did not receive a marquee credit - placement of the studios production logo on marketing materials and opening titles - and instead, DreamWorks marquee credit shifted to Amblin Entertainment. The film is the second adaptation of the novel following the 1989 direct-to-television animated film. It is also Disneys first feature-length adaptation of a Roald Dahl work since 1996s James and the Giant Peach.


3.2. Production Casting

Mark Rylance was cast in the films title role in October 2014. Spielberg had approached Rylance with the role during the filming of Bridge of Spies. Spielberg was quoted as saying that "Mark Rylance is a transformational actor. I am excited and thrilled that Mark will be making this journey with us to Giant Country. Everything about his career so far is about making the courageous choice and Im honoured he has chosen The BFG as his next big screen performance." Rylance performed the character through motion capture, a process which he referred to as "liberating". In mid-November 2014, it was revealed that a ten-year-old student of Lower Peover School, Ruby Barnhill, had auditioned for the film. She had to learn six pages of dialogue in preparation for a possible role as the orphan Sophie. After a lengthy search, on December 16, Barnhill was cast in the role, about which she said, "I feel incredibly lucky and Im so happy." Spielberg stated that they "have discovered a wonderful Sophie in Ruby Barnhill." Bill Hader was set to star in the film in an unspecified role on March 27, 2015. On April 13, 2015, the rest of the cast was announced, which included Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall, Jemaine Clement, Michael David Adamthwaite, Daniel Bacon, Chris Gibbs, Adam Godley, Jonathan Holmes, Paul Moniz de Sa, and Olafur Olafsson.


3.3. Production Filming

Principal photography on the film began on March 23, 2015, in Vancouver and concluded on June 12, 2015. Weta Digital worked on the films visual effects. It is Mathisons final film following her death on November 4, 2015.


4. Music

John Williams composed and conducted the films musical score, marking the twenty-seventh collaboration between Spielberg and Williams. Williams was announced as the films composer in March 2015. During the process of writing the score, Williams compared the film to "a child’s ballet where there are dances involved," elaborating, "The BFG tries to capture dreams with his net and does something that almost looks like a Ray Bolger or Fred Astaire dance; It is an amazingly musical and choreographic sequence which required the orchestra to do things that are more associated with musical films." Williams found similarities with the scoring of Home Alone, admitting that writing music for The BFG" was really an opportunity to compose and orchestrate a little children’s fantasy for orchestra." The soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on July 1, 2016.


5. Release

The BFG premiered on May 14, 2016, at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, in an out of competition screening. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures distributed the film worldwide, except for territories in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, where the films distribution rights were sold by DreamWorks international partner, Mister Smith Entertainment, to independent distributors.

Disney released a teaser trailer on December 9, 2015. A second trailer was released on April 5, 2016. A third trailer was released on May 16, 2016. The film held its North American premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California on June 21, 2016. It was released in the United States on July 1, 2016. Entertainment One distributed the film in the U.K. on July 22, 2016. DreamWorks financial partner, Reliance Entertainment, released the film in India on July 29, 2016. Huaxia Film Distribution released the film in China.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released The BFG on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download on November 29, 2016. The film debuted in third of the home media sales chart for the week ending on December 2, 2016.


6.1. Reception Box office

The BFG grossed $55.5 million in North America and $127.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $183.3 million, against a production budget of $140 million.

In the United States and Canada, The BFG opened alongside The Legend of Tarzan and The Purge: Election Year at 3.357 theaters, and was projected to gross $22–32 million in its opening weekend. The film was notably vying for drawing family audiences with the studios own Finding Dory. It made $775.000 from its Thursday previews; however, the low figure was not surprising, given how family films tend to attract fewer audiences during late-night showings. This was followed by a $7 million opening day including previews and a disappointing $18.6 million opening weekend, which Deadline Hollywood called "an awful start for this film which is estimated to cost $140 million". Forbes noted that Steven Spielbergs films tend to have long runs, irrespective of their opening numbers. However, it also pointed out that the July 4th weekend proves to be a non-leggy release schedule and most films released during this time end up making only twice their holiday total over the course of their domestic theatrical run. The New York Times called the opening figures "a colossal misfire".

Due to the films poor performance in North America, the film was considered a box office disappointment. As a result of its low opening numbers in North America, the film needed greater financial success in its international markets, as pointed out by David Hollis, Disneys distribution chief, saying, "were going to be reliant in a lot of ways on international dragging tempo".