DreamWorks Animation not only revealed the existence of “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken,” they also released the first trailer for the film.
The latest original film from DreamWorks Animation, coming off the one-two punch of 2022’s Bad Boys and the Oscar-nominated Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Ruby Gilman, The Teenage Kraken is all about the title character (voiced by Lana Condor) who disguises himself as a human and attends Oceanside High on land. After discovering her ancestral heritage, thanks to her grandmother (voiced by Jane Fonda), she is able to get in touch with all of her powers—both literal (laser eyes!) and emotional.
TheWrap spoke with director Kirk DeMicco, who directed “The Croods” with Chris Sanders for DreamWorks Animation, and producer Kelly Cooney Silella about where “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” is coming from and what we can expect when the film debuts this summer.
“This was an original project from DreamWorks, one of our first in a while that wasn’t based on any existing IP,” Kuni Silela said of the film’s origins. “It started as an example of this idea of a family of sea monsters that have moved onto land and are hiding in plain sight. Through our process of developing the film, we really began to flesh out Ruby as the main character and tell the story through her eyes and her journey of self-discovery—the secret she’s hiding is actually what makes her special, and that after learns to embrace this side of herself, she can become the hero of her own story. And we just thought it was such a beautiful message, but told in this really fun, epic, exciting adventure.”
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For the film’s look, De Micco turned to production designer Pierre-Olivier Vincent, a DreamWorks Animation veteran who started at the company in its infancy and worked on all three How to Train Your Dragon films. Vincent had experience with what DeMicco describes as “world building,” which was perfect because “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” has two distinct worlds—the human world of Oceanside and the Kraken’s underwater kingdom. “He was very inspired by the design language of the octopus, like the curves of the octopus. That curved tongue is all over the design – whether it’s on their fridge, the cars, or the character designs in the school itself. And even more underwater in the Kraken kingdom, which you can see in the trailer.”
But what inspired the filmmakers?
“I definitely think we were inspired by all those teen comedies we grew up with, but also newer ones like ‘Booksmart’ or ‘Lady Bird’ or ‘Easy A.’ There are so many great movies that we’ve seen, and we just thought it was a great backdrop to tell this kind of story, where the halls of Oceanside are almost as dangerous as the battle between mermaids and the Kraken that’s going on under the sea,” explained Cooney Silela. “And juxtaposing those two ideas, we thought was a really fun opportunity to play with these different characters and tropes.”
When it comes to technical challenges (because what would a modern animated film be without an insane technical challenge?), DeMicco was quick to answer: water. He points to a shot in the trailer of Chelsea the mermaid (voiced by Emmy winner Annie Murphy) becoming a kaiju and emerging from the ocean. “They do these calculations and it would be as if the Pacific Ocean was being pulled by the hair every minute.” The volume of water that this thing has to render to work is really amazing,” DeMicco said.
Toni Collette, Colman Domingo, Sam Richardson, Jabuki Young-White and Will Forte also star in Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken alongside Nicole Baier, Lisa Koshy, Ramona Young, Eduardo Franco and Echo Kellum. The film is directed by Farin Pearl.
Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken arrives as part of a very mermaid-filled summer movie season on June 30, 2023.
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