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Sarah El-Mahmoud

Teenage Kraken Director Gets Honest About Why There Aren’t More Mermaids In The Movie, And One Thread He’d Like To Explore In A Sequel

Chelsea the mermaid in Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken

SPOILERS are ahead for Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, now playing in theaters. 

It’s been a big mermaid year for the 2023 movie schedule between Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid, the upcoming Barbie movie and DreamworksRuby Gillman, Teenage Kraken. In the case of the new animated film, the idea of mermaids actually being the evil beings of the sea brought a fun spin on popular lore. If you’ve wondered why the movie didn’t fully dive into that side of the waters, Teenage Kraken director Kirk DeMicco has shared the honest reason why. 

Kirk DeMicco, who memorably brought The Croods movies to life and helmed the 2021 Netflix movie Vivo sat down with CinemaBlend during Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken’s Los Angeles press day. When I asked the filmmaker if there were ever plans to showcase their version of the mermaid world they tease in the film, here’s what he said: 

In our dreams, but maybe not in our budget. No, but there was an opportunity, but we had to make choices. And, so we always felt like if we had done that, we would've lost so much of the time, the personality of who is really getting to know Chelsea. And it worked well for our themes of the fact that they are all in hiding. And, there is this thing that she is the only one, because it matched up really nicely with what Ruby's situation is and even with her mother, is that everybody in that movie, all the women in that movie are hiding something. And Ruby's the first one at the very end to stand up and take up as much space as she wants and declare to everybody who she really is and that she's gonna live her life this way. And I think that was really important to us.

Fair points were made! DeMicco and the folks at Dreamworks would have of course had a blast putting even more of a mark on the evil mermaids of the movie. However, it was decided instead to make some sacrifices in order to enrich the core storyline of Ruby Gillman and give Annie Murphy’s villainous Chelsea the most screen time they could. That being said, if the animated film were to become a franchise, the animators did leave some threads hanging to explore. As DeMicco continued: 

The statue room where Jane Fonda's character tells her about all the other monsters. There's some monsters deep in the shadows there that were the underwater monsters that we were once playing with that we would love to be able to see.

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Release Date: June 30, 2023
Directed By: Kirk DeMicco
Written By: Pam Brady, Brian C. Brown, Elliott DiGuise
Starring: Lana Condor, Toni Collette, Annie Murphy, Sam Richardson, Nicole Byer, Colman Domingo, Will Forte, Liza Koshy, and Jane Fonda
Rating: PG for some action, rude humor and thematic elements
Runtime: 91 minutes

Teenage Kraken is a wonderful origin story of Ruby Gillman as she grows into her kraken identity, and it scratches the surface when it comes to oceans of creatures who could stand against her in the future. She’s a warrior princess who could explore the mermaid world, or as the director teased, the world of other underwater monsters should the story continue in a future movie, TV show and something else. If so, Dreamworks could set itself apart from the squeaky clean image of mermaids Disney famously has created in animation, perhaps having more fun imagining what these mermaids are like in their natural habitat. 

Dreamworks' latest earned favorable to middling reviews from critics and a 3 out of 5 rating in CinemaBlend’s own Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken review. So far, the movie, unfortunately, had a disappointing opening weekend as it debuted against Indiana Jones 5. We’ll have to see how the movie continues to perform, who knows, it could find popularity on streaming months from now. 

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