Ice Age: How a single joke turned into the fifth movie
Talk about a throwback.
When Ice Age: Collision Course scurries into theaters on July 22, audiences will bear witness to some cosmic action as the mammoth gang attempts to stop an asteroid from destroying the planet. The DNA of the Ice Age franchise is all intact — slippery hijinks, prehistoric family values, and even a woolly wedding between two teen beasts (Keke Palmer and Adam Devine) — but there’s another bit in Collision Course that goes back to the very beginning.
As producer Lori Forte and co-director Mike Thurmeier point out, it was a throwaway gag in the first Ice Age film — a spaceship that the gang encounters, frozen in a giant block of ice — that inspired the plot of the fifth movie.
Thurmeier proposes that Collision Course is largely based on the idea of, “What would happen if Scrat found that flying saucer and activated it?”
But unlike J.K. Rowling’s sly placement of Horcruxes or the Lost creators’ joy of hiding symbolic books throughout the series’ run, the plan for Ice Age 5 wasn’t some preconceived scheme in the cards all the way back in 2002. Thurmeier says it’s Forte who serves as the grand architect and gatekeeper of the franchise, but there’s not exactly a master plan.
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“We’ve never had discussions about an overarching storyline that spans seven movies — it’s never come up — but Lori takes each one on its own and looks for inspiration on a day-to-day-level,” Thurmeier tells EW. “What I like about that is, I don’t think you can predict where the movies are going to go, and you don’t get bound by something, either. There’s no feeling of, well, you can only get to this point in this movie because we have a plan for the next one. You don’t hold your punches.”
Thurmeier says the franchise is very much inspired by modern events — despite its obvious primordial setting. “[The second film] The Meltdown was definitely born out of conversations about what was happening globally, and even now with Collision Course, there are stories every day about a new asteroid just missing Earth by this many thousand miles. Neil DeGrasse Tyson” — who voices a weasel in the film, by the way — “just recently said on his radio show that the biggest threat to mankind is the asteroid. You could scour websites daily thinking about what could happen, but I just wait for Lori to come to us with an idea.”