Open Season Unloads on DVD

Following a successful theatrical run, Sony Pictures Animation’s first feature, Open Season, has been unleashed on home video today. The title arrives on standard and Blu-ray DVD, complete with an array of extra features including an all-new animated short titled Boog and Elliot’s Midnight Bun Run.

Open Season features the voices of Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Debra Messing, Gary Sinise, Billy Connolly, Jon Favreau, Patrick Warburton and Jane Krakowski in the tale of a couple of unlikely forest friends who rally all the other animals to turn the tables on unsuspecting hunters. The film is directed by The Lion King helmer Roger Allers, along with Jill Culton, whose credits include Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc., and Anthony Stacchi, who counts Antz among his various credits. The filmmakers built the pic around the unique humor of In the Bleachers cartoonist Steve Moore, who serves as exec producer along with John Carls.

‘As you know, with animated films there are so many talented people who work on them and so much prep work, years of it, that no one ever sees,’ Culton tells us. ‘And so we made sure there was a lot of good bonus material. For me, it’s about getting a chance to really show off all the artists who worked so hard on the project.’

Culton, Allers and Stacchi provide feature commentary on the disc, which also includes deleted scenes, a Wheel of Fortune Forest Edition game, a music video for the Death Ray song ‘I Wanna Lose Control,’ behind-the-scenes featurettes, a photo gallery, storyboards, the ‘Ring Tails’ cartoons originally created for cell phones, a multi-angle breakdown of the river sequence, a ‘Voice-a-Rama” activity in which the viewer can select from a number of different accents for the characters and a featurette titled Inside the Animals Studio, with commentary presented as if the characters were real actors discussing their experiences during the shooting of the movie. There’s also a sneak peek at Sony Animation’s next feature, Surf’s Up!

In the new short, Midnight Bun Run, Boog and Elliot risk life and limb when they break into an Airstream trailer for some fresh-baked bearclaws. And while the film is an add-on intended to bring extra value to the DVD, its actually has its roots at the genesis of the project. Culton explains, ‘This is kind of a little insider tip, which is a lot of times you do a test sequence in storyboards with the voices you really want to cast and, if it goes over well with the studio, that test sequence becomes the template for the tone and everything in the movie. This sequence was originally titled ‘Breaking and Entering’ and it was the very first sequence we ever recorded with Martin and Ashton, and one of the first sequences boarded by our head of story, David Feiss. It really captured the tone and the studio greenlit it based on this one sequence.’

The ‘Breaking and Entering’ scene was ultimately dropped from the film, but it remained a favorite among the crew. ‘When we had the opportunity to do a short we kind of resurrected that very first sequence, so it means something even more to the people who worked on it than the general public,’ Culton notes.

Tracy Garvin, who handled all the DVD extra features, tells us the disc has three hidden Easter eggs that offer behind-the-scenes glimpses but won’t offer any clues. She also says she’s very excited about the film being presented on next-generation DVD technology. ‘This movie on Blu-ray looks spectacular,’ she boasts. ‘If you want to show off the technology, this will definitely be the standard. You can just see every little hair and can almost feel it brushing against you. There’s a production artwork photo gallery that looks incredible. You’ll want to take your TV and make it the frame for art in your living room.’

Open Season is available in both widescreen and full-screen special editions and lists for $28.95 on standard DVD and $38.96 on Blu-ray DVD. Those who purchase the widescreen version through Amazon.com will also get an exclusive DVD of Sony Pictures Imageworks’ Academy Award-winning animated short The Chubbchubbs!.