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The minds behind Ice Age: Collision Course on how he keeps fans coming back for more.

Fourteen years after the first Ice Age film hit our screens, the creative minds behind the franchise are celebrating the release of the fifth film.

To celebrate Scrat, Manny, Sid and co’s latest adventure – Ice Age: Collision Course – we chat to the producer and co-director of the film to get the inside scoop on how they keep audiences glued to the “herd” and their big screen adventures.

And yes, we asked if they had a favourite character, too. Because, really, don’t we all?

Image via 20th Century Fox.

This is the fifth film in the Ice Age franchise. What do you think it is about the characters and the story that keeps people coming back for more?

Lori Forte, Producer: I always hope that audiences find the characters relatable, endearing and entertaining. In the first Ice Age film, we brought together three disparate characters - Manny, Sid, and Diego - all outsiders to their respective species for one reason or another. The fact that they end up as a “herd” or a family, having each other’s backs, is very resonant.

It’s a heartwarming reminder that we don’t have to be related by blood to be family. Each subsequent Ice Age film continues or expands on this theme, as our herd grows and changes from movie to movie.

I also think that the comedy keeps people coming back, from Scrat’s frantic and painful pursuits of his nut, to Sid as the loveable loser, to Crash and Eddie as the masters of mayhem. Not to mention the irascible, hilarious Granny and slightly insane but heroic Buck. Joining these characters on all their adventures has been blast for us and I hope audiences feel the same way.

Image via 20th Century Fox.
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Obviously a lot of parents watch these movies with their kids - how do you make sure you’re keeping things entertaining for them?

Mike Thurmeier, Co Director: I'm a parent myself and love to watch movies with my kids, so I appreciate when a film works on a level for everyone but also throws in jokes or storylines that resonate with grown ups.

We work really hard to make a film that WE would want to watch, and what's great about the Ice Age movies is the humour and emotional stories work for all ages. Still, it's fun to add those little moments we know might go over kids heads, but make us laugh.

Is it more fun watching the parents or the kids enjoy the films?

Galen Chu, Co Director: We work very hard to make sure that we have moments for both the kids and the adults watching our films. I think that's what Ice Age fans have enjoyed about the movies. But if I really had to pick one I would say kids! It’s what got me into animation to begin with!

Growing up and watching animation, I remember how great it made me feel and how it sparked my imagination and how thoroughly entertaining it was to watch. It really had an impact in shaping me as a person. I think it’s a real privilege to be able to make movies that will touch so many people out there, especially the kids.

Who knows, our movies might have inspired more kids out there to become future artists and filmmakers—and that’s a very special thing.

Image via 20th Century Fox.
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What is it like returning to the same characters again on each film? Are they like family to you now?

Mike: I've been with the Ice Age family for a long time, and for each film there's been a sense of excitement in getting to see where their adventures will take them. I love seeing their relationships develop and getting to be a part of the magic of animation when these characters come to life. They're absolutely like family, every movie is like getting together for a big reunion—and also adding new members to the mix.

Did you ever imagine that you would be working on a fifth Ice Age film?

Lori: To be honest, when we were making the first Ice Age, I don’t think it ever occurred to us that we’d get to make a second film. We were all blown away by how well the world received our characters and our movie.

We were so fortunate to be able to continue telling stories and watching our characters grow and change over the years, and as audiences continued to embrace our movies, we continued to enjoy making them. Having been the first animated franchise to make a fifth film is an amazing milestone for all of us.

Image via 20th Century Fox.

What was different about working on this film compared to the others? You did venture into space this time...

Galen: Approaching the latest instalment of the franchise was a bit daunting in the beginning, but as soon as Lori pitched the basic ideas she had been thinking about I knew we had an opportunity to really make this one special. The story was inspired by a scene from the first Ice Age - the moment where the herd walks into an ice museum and sees a space ship encased in ice. It was just a gag in the movie, but we always loved that idea and we knew there was a great story behind it. That Scrat is going to find that very same ship and inadvertently launch himself into space! And what makes it exciting is that it allows us to explore a totally new environment.

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Scrat has always been around ice, glaciers and nature. This time around he's in space surrounded by all sorts of advanced technology! We just had a blast poking fun at all the sci-fi tropes and coming up with new ways to torture Scrat trying to get that elusive acorn.

Animated movies are dominating the box office at the moment - how difficult is it to keep things fresh and innovative in that space?

Lori: It’s true that there are an abundance of animated movies out there; the landscape is definitely crowded. But that only challenges us, as filmmakers, to find unique, fun, clever stories with relatable characters that feel fresh and new—stories and characters that will stand out in the jammed market place.

The more great animated features are released, the more we are inspired to find the next new world and next fresh, fun characters to take us to places we haven’t been before.

Image via 20th Century Fox.

Surely you have a favourite character? On that note, can we have a Scrat spin-off film?

Mike: Oh man, it’s so tough to pick a favourite - my top three are Scrat because he's so fun and cartoony to animate, Sid because he's got a sweet soul and great lines, and Buck because Simon Pegg is THE BEST and I love how crazy we can get with Buck's animation.

Galen: As far as my favourite character, before getting a chance to co-direct on this movie I spent most of my career at Blue Sky as an animator and I devoted a lot of time working as the character lead for Sid. So I feel like I have a very special connection with his character - at the very beginning trying to figure out how he would move, working on facial expressions and trying to find all his best angles.

In terms of his role in the herd, I like to think of Sid as the conscience in the group. I mean he’s definitely goofy and funny but he's also very honest and he always wears his emotion on his sleeve. I just love that about him. I think it brings the best out of everyone else around him.

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Lori: When asked this question about my favourite Ice Age character, I always reply, "I love all my children equally". However, if I’m pressed to answer this, here is what I can say: I love Scrat because of the way he continues to pursue his acorn no matter how many times he gets shot down. I love Sid because he’s funny and silly, but is really the conscience of the group. He gets everyone to do the right thing for the right reasons.

I love Manny because he’s so curmudgeonly but so loveable and he’s the moral compass of the group. I adore Diego because the once “lone assassin” ultimately discovered the true value of friendship when he met Sid and Manny and his heart began to thaw.

I love Ellie because she’s “mother earth” and Crash and Eddie because they are masters of mayhem and their hijinks always make me laugh. I love Granny because she’s outrageous and you know the part of our brain that censors the wrong things to say? Well, hers is gone. I’m crazy about Buck because he’s just plain crazy...I can go on and on. Aren’t you sorry you asked?

As for a Scrat spin-off film? We thought about doing a Scrat Movie several times so, who knows? Maybe one day.

Image via 20th Century Fox.

Where does the story, and where do the characters, go from here?

Lori: Like all families, our “herd” will continue to grow and change and have lots of laughs as well as new and exciting adventures.

Ice Age is such a fertile world with so many stories still to tell, many more characters to meet and endless, exhilarating journeys to embark on.

Ice Age Collision Course is out now on Digital and available on Blu Ray & DVD on October 26.

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