August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

STARRING THE VOICES OF Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, Christopher Walken, Jane Curtin, Jennifer Lopez, John Mahoney, Grant Shaud, Paul Mazursky

DIRECTED BY Eric Darnell, Larry Guterman, Tim Johnson

First it was twin volcanoes, then comets versus meteorites. Now computer-animated insects are scurrying into theaters in dueling features — and in an upset, Antz will make it to the picnic table ahead of the Disney/Pixar opus A Bug’s Life (see page 68). Ex-Disney ‘toon honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg, now DreamWorks’ guru of graphics, originally planned to unleash Antz in the spring of 1999. But the folks at Pacific Data Images polished off the film — in which a drone (Allen) yearns for freedom and the queen’s daughter (Stone) — much earlier than expected. ”Jeffrey kept telling us, You don’t know how lucky you are,” says codirector Johnson. ”Animated movies never happen in two and a half years.” Just designing the look of Allen’s nebbishy, rebellious doppelganger took 10 months. ”The first versions looked exactly like Woody,” says lead character designer Raman Hui. ”Thick glasses, hair from Sleeper, long face, big eyebrows.” To make the character more organic, Katzenberg nixed a slavish caricature in favor of a more ant-like version. Says Hui, ”You want people to relate to these ants as characters, not celebrities with six legs.” We shall resist a joke about a six-legged version of Sharon Stone. (Oct. 2)

THE LOWDOWN When it comes to animation, slow and steady usually wins the race. Nevertheless — you go, Jeffrey!

87 minutes
Eric Darnell,
Tim Johnson
Complete Coverage

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