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Puppet Pals: Forever After (previously promoted as Puppet Pals: The Final Chapter) is an 2018 American 3D computer-animated action-adventure comedy film produced by Fox Animation Studios for 20th Century Fox. It is the fourth installment in the Puppet Pals franchise, following 2012's Puppet Pals the Third and was directed by Steve Martino from a screenplay by Mike Reiss, Seth Grahame-Smith, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow, and Peter Ackerman and a story by Martino and Jordan Roberts with Jesse McCartney, Isla Fisher, Josh Peck, Anne Hathaway, Patton Oswalt, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman, John Cleese, Minnie Driver, and Sarah Vowell reprising their roles from the previous installments, New cast members include Nick Kroll, Karen Gillan, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Jonas (replacing Zach Braff), and Jason Drucker (replacing Zachary Gordon).
Puppet Pals: Forever After premiered in Los Angeles on September 7, 2018 and was released in the United States on September 21, 2018, by 20th Century Fox in RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, IMAX and IMAX 3D. The film received largely positive reviews from critics, with many critics considering it an improvement over its predecessor as well as praising its animation, concept, and satire. It grossed $1.2 billion worldwide, against a budget of $200 million. To date, it is the highest-grossing Puppet Pals film and making it the fifth highest-grossing film of 2018, and the third highest-grossing animated film. The film was nominated at the 76th Golden Globe Awards and 91st Academy Awards, both for Best Animated Feature Film. Although originally marketed as the final installment in the film franchise, a fifth film is currently in development and is scheduled to be released either in 2022 or 2023.
Puppet Pals: Forever After premiered at the Regency Village Theater on September 7, 2018 and was released in the United States on September 21, 2018 by 20th Century Fox in 3D, RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX 3D. It was originally scheduled for release on June 29, 2018, but in December 2016, Fox had to advanced the release date to August 3, 2018. The release was then shifted to September 21, 2018.
It was the second Fox Animation offering of the year following Kate & Chris: Back in Action, making 2018 the fourth year Fox Animation released two films in one year, after 2010 (with Puppet Pals 2 and Alaina Gleen) 2012 (with S.M.A.R.T: Family of Spies and Puppet Pals the Third), and 2016 (withSmileys: A Puppet Pals Story and Crystal: Coming of Darkness)
The film is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for ”action violence, rude humor, mild language, and brief scary images.”
Due to the popularity and preference of IMAX in 2D (as opposed to 3D) among filmgoers in North America, the film will be shown in IMAX theaters in only 2D domestically, but will be screened in 3D formats internationally.
A customized page was created on Fandango. Coinciding with the film's release, Fox also partnered with McDonald's to produce eight toys in their Happy Meals.
The film also has its own VR game, being Fox Animation's first VR development.
A Lego video game based on the films was announced on July 21, 2018, and was released on September 21, 2018, the same day as the film's release, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
- The teaser trailer was released on December 14, 2017, and was shown before Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Paddington 2, Peter Rabbit, Black Panther, and Early Man, and it quickly became viral, getting more than 112 million views in 24 hours.
- The first official trailer was released online on March 5, 2018, and was shown before A Wrinkle In Time, Sherlock Gnomes, Kate & Chris: Back in Action, Rampage, Avengers: Infinity War, Computeropolis: The Deep Web, and Show Dogs.
- The second and final theatrical trailer was released online on June 6, 2018, and was shown before Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.
The film was released on digital HD and Movies Anywhere on December 4, 2018 and on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on December 18, 2018. Bonus features include a behind-the-scenes featurette, a short highlighting some of the Easter eggs hidden throughout the film, and deleted scenes.
Puppet Pals: Forever After has grossed $589.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $612.6 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $1.204 billion, making it the highest-grossing Puppet Pals film in the whole franchise.
United States and Canada
Puppet Pals: Forever After opened alongside The House With A Clock In Its Walls, Assassination Nation, Life Itself (2018), and Fahrenheit 11/9. and was projected to gross $95–110 million in its opening weekend, which would be the biggest opening for an animated film released in September.
By the week of its release, domestic estimates had risen to $130–150 million, with some insiders still suggesting a $165 million debut was possible. The film played in 4,606 theaters, of which 3,878 venues were in 3D, along with 512 premium large format locales, approximately 420 IMAX theaters and a handful of Dolby Cinema sites, and it was the widest release ever, surpassing the record of Despicable Me 3's 4,529 theaters until it was surpassed by Avengers: Endgame the next year. Within the first 24 hours of pre-sale tickets going on sale, it broke Fandango's pre-sales record to become the top animated pre-seller of all-time, eclipsing Incredibles 2.
The film made $56.5 million on its first day including $17.2 million in Thursday night previews, the biggest of all time for Fox Animation, surpassing Alaina Gleen 3’s $15.1 million cume. It ended up grossing $152.6 million in its opening weekend, the third biggest overall for an animated film behind Incredibles 2 ($182.7 million) and The Lion King (2019), ($191.8 million), and the biggest of all time for a Fox Animation film respectively. The film's second Friday was the smallest Friday-to-Friday drop for a Fox Animation film with a gross of $25.5 million on that day which is a 54% drop from the first Friday. In the film's second weekend, it remained on the top of box office, beating Smallfoot and Night School (2018) while grossing $70.1 million. The film dropped to second place in its third weekend while grossing $54.3 million over the weekend. The film grossed $21.3 million while falling to third place in its fourth weekend behind Venom and A Star is Born while beating First Man, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, and Fox's own Bad Times At The El Royale. It grossed $18.6 million in its fifth weekend while remaining in third place. The film fell to fourth place while grossing $9.6 million in its sixth weekend. It dropped to fifth in its seventh weekend with $8.3 million. The film lost 982 theaters in its eighth weekend while dropping to ninth and grossed $4.6 million. In its ninth weekend, it remained in ninth place while grossing $3.4 million. On November 30, 2018, the film was re-released in 1,000 additional theaters increasing the theater count to 2,998 and grossed $7.5 million in it's tenth weekend while it went to it's sixth place finish. It finally fell outside the top 10 in its twelfth weekend with a gross of $2.2 million. It ended it’s theatrical run on March 7, 2019, after 167 days.
Outside North America, the film made $49.5 million from 25 countries in its opening weekend, for a global debut of $202.1 million. Mexico was the largest debut with $14.1 million, followed by Australia ($8.7 million) and Russia ($5.6 million). In its second weekend of release the film made $61.1 million from 28 countries, bringing its two-week total to $141.7 million. Its largest market was China where it made $22.6 million.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 88% "Certified Fresh" approval rating based on 214 reviews, with an average rating of 8.06/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Puppet Pals: Forever After levels up on its fourth film that expands its colorful universe while focusing on core characters, well-done jokes, and relationships, and it's often hilarious at times." Metacritic calculated a weighted average score of 76 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an rare grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale, the same score as the first film, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 92% overall positive score and an 81% "definite recommend".
Many disability advocates, including the Epilepsy Foundation, have raised concerns that scenes with flashing lights, mostly in a party sequence as well as Nathan's hallucinations, can trigger seizures in viewers affected by photosensitive epilepsy. As a result, several theaters have started posting warnings for audiences. Fox issued a statement to USA Today stating that they appreciated the efforts the theaters had already made in making signs warning people seeing the movie. They then asked theaters to warn audiences about the scene in a memo that reads, "Puppet Pals: Forever After contains a sequence of flashing lights, which may affect customers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy or other photosensitivities."
In response to this, the UK released a re-edited version of the film with all affected sequences altered so that any flashing lights and strobe effects now pass the Harding test.