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Alvin and the Chipmunks
Alvin and the Chipmunks2007.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tim Hill
Produced by
  • Janice Karman
  • Ross Bagdasarian Jr.
Screenplay by
  • Jon Vitti
  • Will McRobb
  • Chris Viscardi
Story by Jon Vitti
Starring
Music by Christopher Lennertz
Cinematography Peter Lyons Collister
Editing by Peter Berger
Studio
  • Fox 2000 Pictures
  • Regency Enterprises
  • Bagdasarian Company
  • Dune Entertainment
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) December 14, 2007 (2007-12-14)
Running time 92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million
Money made $361.3 million

Alvin and the Chipmunks is a 2007 American live action/computer animated musical comedy film directed by Tim Hill. Based on the characters of the same name created by Ross Bagdasarian Sr., the film stars Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney, with Jason Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richardson, and Jane Lynch in supporting roles.

It was released worldwide on December 14, 2007, by 20th Century Fox and produced by Fox 2000 Pictures and Regency Enterprises. Alvin and the Chipmunks grossed $361 million worldwide on a budget of $60 million and was the seventh-best-selling DVD of 2008.

Alvin and the Chipmunks is the first live action/animated film starring Alvin and the Chipmunks since Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks was released in 2003, as that film features puppetry used for the Chipmunks and this film features computer animation used for them. The film was followed by three sequels: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011), and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2015).

Plot

A tree that three young chipmunk brothers Alvin, Simon, and Theodore (Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney) live in is cut down and driven to Los Angeles after JETT Records purchases it as a Christmas tree. There, struggling songwriter and composer David Seville (Jason Lee) has his latest demo rejected by JETT Records’ chief executive, Ian Hawke (David Cross), his college roommate, who suggests that Dave give up writing songs. The Chipmunks hop into a basket of muffins that Dave stole from one of Ian's coworkers, and follow Dave home. Once there, Dave discovers the Chipmunks and kicks them out of the house, only to hear them sing "Only You (And You Alone)" and "Funkytown." Dave then makes a deal with the Chipmunks to sing songs he writes in exchange for shelter. Later, when Dave tries to present the Chipmunks to Ian, they fail to sing due to stage fright. The day worsens as Dave is dismissed from his advertising job due to the Chipmunks having ruined his presentation. While hosting dinner with former girlfriend Claire (Cameron Richardson), Dave struggles to hide the Chipmunks after Alvin attempts to create a romantic atmosphere, making Claire uncomfortable and causing her to leave. To make it up to him, the Chipmunks go to Ian's lavish mansion where they sing Dave's song to him, prompting Ian to sign a record deal.

The Chipmunks quickly become an international success. When Dave expresses concern for their well-being and insists that the Chipmunks are too young to handle fame, Ian convinces them that Dave is holding them back. After a misunderstanding, the Chipmunks choose to live with Ian, who is only interested in profiting off the Chipmunks’ success. Once the Chipmunks arrive at Ian’s mansion, he spoils them with candy and toys, and they set off on a nationwide coast-to-coast tour, in which Ian decides to take advantage of their naïveté by overworking them constantly. Frustrated by what Ian has done to the Chipmunks, Dave decides to infiltrate their concert to reunite with them. Before their tour can begin, a veterinarian explains to Ian that the Chipmunks' voices have been worn out due to exhaustion and suggests that they take a long rest, but as Ian doesn't want to cancel the concert, he advises the Chipmunks to lip-sync. With Claire's help, Dave is allowed into the concert; the Chipmunks see Dave and decide to sabotage the show. Ian locks the Chipmunks in a cage and prepares to take them on their world tour, escaping in his limousine with Dave in pursuit, but the Chipmunks have already escaped to Dave's car, replacing themselves with stuffed animal decoys. Dave happily admits that he loves the Chipmunks like his own family. Meanwhile, Ian discovers that the Chipmunks have escaped, costing him both his career and his fortune.

Cast

  • Justin Long as Alvin Seville (voice)
  • Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. as Alvin Seville (singing voice)
  • Matthew Gray Gubler as Simon Seville (voice)
  • Steve Vining as Simon Seville (singing voice)
  • Jesse McCartney as Theodore Seville (voice)
  • Janice Karman as Theodore Seville (singing voice)
  • Jason Lee as David "Dave" Seville, a struggling songwriter and father figure to Alvin, Simon and Theodore
  • David Cross as Ian Hawke, the chief executive at JETT Records
  • Cameron Richardson as Claire Wilson, Dave's ex-girlfriend
  • Jane Lynch as Gail, an advertising executive and Dave's former boss
  • Kevin Symons as Ted
  • Frank Maharajh as Barry
  • Veronica Alicino as Amy

Production

Casting

Chevy Chase, Tim Allen and Bill Murray were originally considered for the role of David Seville. On March 7, 2007, Jason Lee joined the project to play David Seville, and Cameron Richardson signed on March 21. David was a more clean-cut character for Lee than his past roles, which he appreciated.

Bagdasarian and his wife, Janice Karman, had always voiced the chipmunks since they revived the franchise; however, for the film, they were replaced by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney for marketing reasons. For recording, the chipmunk voice actors spoke their lines slowly to be sped up to normal speed in post-production; McCartney described it as a "tedious process," where "it could take 40 takes for one line." He was such an Alvin and the Chipmunks fan that he even owned the album Chipmunk Punk (1980), and studied 1980s Alvin cartoons for his role in the film.

Filming

Principal photography began on March 28, 2007, making it the first film to be produced under the leadership of Fox Animation president Vanessa Morrison. Seville's house was built on Sunset Gower Studios and contains references to Bagdasarian Sr.'s life. The set pieces included an upright piano he used to write his songs and a flower visual he painted; the house's address number includes 1958, the year he created the chipmunk characters; and the house design is based on a cottage built in 1919, the year Bagdasarian Sr. was born. In shots where Lee interacted with the chipmunks, the actor rehearsed with small stuffed animals indicating where the chipmunks would be; the animals were then removed when it was time to shoot, and he used his memory of where the animals were.

Visual effects

The chipmunks were animated by Rhythm and Hues Studios, a company that previously animated creatures for projects such as Mouse Hunt (1997); The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005); and Babe (1995), which garnered Rhythm & Hues an Academy Award. As with all of its past projects, Rhythm & Hues used its own software for animating Alvin and the Chipmunks, such as Voodoo and Icy, which was used for placing the CGI into live-action shots; although Autodesk programs like Flame and Maya were used.

According to Bagdasarian Jr., getting the look of the chipmunks suited for a live-action setting while maintaining the essence of the cartoon designs was challenging, and it took until September 10, 2006 for the artists to get it right. Hill instructed the artists to make the chipmunks look realistic, but not entirely like chipmunks. In addition to observing real chipmunks offered by Universal Studios, Rhythm and Hues studied all versions of the chipmunk characters from past Alvin media for conceiving, fur-texturing, and animating designs for the film. Human dancers were referenced for animating the dance movements of the chipmunks, and YouTube videos of famous guitarists playing the guitar influenced how Alvin's guitar-playing was animated. High-dynamic-range images of sets were also used for lighting the chipmunks to fit the live-action shots. The most difficult part of integrating the CGI critters in the live-action shots was match moving for instances when they climb on Seville's head. For scenes where the chipmunks interacted with props, some of them were live-action props while others, such as a paper airplane, were produced and animated with computers.

Soundtrack

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Released November 20, 2007 (2007-11-20)
Genre Pop, rock, hip hop, dance, Christmas
Length 48:17
Label Razor & Tie
Producer Ali Dee Theodore
The Chipmunks chronology
Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks
(2004)
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(2007)
Christmas with The Chipmunks (2008 reissue)
(2008)

The soundtrack was released November 20, 2007, three weeks before the film's opening and contains new versions of old songs such as "Witch Doctor" and "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas, Don't Be Late)" (as made famous by David Seville and The Chipmunks), cover versions of songs such as "Bad Day" (as made famous by Daniel Powter) and "Funkytown" (as made famous by Lipps Inc.) and new songs such as "Coast 2 Coast", "Get You Goin'" and "Get Munk'd". The second track on the album is "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)", a remake version, without Jason Lee as the voice of Dave. However, the seventh track, the rock version of the song, features Lee as the voice of Dave. The soundtrack is the first album to be released in three years by Bagdasarian Productions, and is the group's 43rd album overall. Four songs from the album have charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

The album has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of over one million copies.

Songs

Four songs from the album managed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 during the month of December 2007. They became the group's first charting songs in 47 years ("Alvin for President" had been the last charting single for the group; it peaked at #95 in 1960). None of the songs were released as singles or ever solicited to mainstream radio (although it is possible that kid-oriented radio stations, such as Radio Disney, might have played them anyway); they charted solely because of high digital downloads.

The four songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 and/or the Hot Digital Songs chart were:

Song Chart Position
"Witch Doctor (2007 Version)" (featuring Chris Classic) US Billboard Hot 100 62
"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) (2007 Version)" 66
"Bad Day" 67
"Funkytown" 86
"Witch Doctor (2007 Version)" (featuring Chris Classic) US Hot Digital Songs 16
"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) (2007 Version)" 28
"Bad Day" 51

Track listing

A soundtrack sampler was released along with the DVD of the film in a two pack sold exclusively at Walmart. This features five songs produced exclusively for the soundtrack.

Track listing
All songs performed by The Chipmunks except as noted
No. Title Length
1. "Bad Day"   3:47
2. "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) DeeTown OG Mix"   2:34
3. "Follow Me Now1 (featuring Jason Gleed)"   3:07
4. "How We Roll1"   3:54
5. "Witch Doctor (featuring Chris Classic)"   3:03
6. "Come Get It1 (featuring Rebecca Jones)"   3:34
7. "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) DeeTown Rock Mix"   2:14
8. "Funkytown"   3:34
9. "Get You Goin'1"   3:16
10. "Coast 2 Coast1"   2:47
11. "Mess Around1"   3:20
12. "Only You (And You Alone)"   2:50
13. "Ain't No Party1 (featuring Rebecca Jones and Chris Classic)"   2:43
14. "Get Munk'd1 (featuring Al D)"   3:01
Bonus tracks
No. Title Length
15. "Witch Doctor Classic Version2"   2:15
16. "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) Classic Version3"   2:17
  • 1Denotes original song
  • 2Performed by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. as David Seville. This version is technically without the Chipmunks.
  • 3Featuring Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. as David Seville (speaking only) and the singing voice for Alvin, Simon and Theodore.

Personnel

  • Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. — lead guitars and the spoken voice of Dave on track 2 and the sung vocal of Alvin
  • Steve Vining — bass on track 8 and the sung vocal of Simon
  • Janice Karman — the sung vocal of Theodore
  • Jason Lee — spoken voiceover on track 7 (as "David Seville")
  • Justin Long - spoken voiceover on tracks 7 (as "Alvin")
  • Matthew Gray Gubler — spoken voiceover on tracks 7 (as "Simon")
  • Jesse McCartney — spoken voiceover on tracks 7 (as "Theodore")
  • Jason Gleed — guest vocals and rhythm guitars
  • Chris Classic — secondary guest lead vocals
  • Rebecca Jones — tertiary guest lead vocals
  • Ali Dee Theodore — keyboards, bass (except track 8) and drum programming
  • Alana Da Fonseca — uncharacterized backing vocals
  • Joey Katsaros — manipulation of original concept album samples and uncharacterized backing vocals
  • Zach Danzinger — live drums and uncharacterized backing vocals
  • Vinny Alfieri — uncharacterized backing vocals
  • Andy Richards — string synthesizer on track 4, piano on track 8
  • Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. — piano on track 15, the singing voice of Dave on track 15, and the spoken voice of Dave, as well as singing voices for Alvin, Simon, and Theodore on track 16
  • Aaron Sandlofer —keyboards, bass, guitar, drums & uncharacterized backing vocals

Charts

Chart (2007) Peak
position
Certification Sales
United States Billboard 200 5 Platinum 1,000,000+

Score album

The film's original score was composed and conducted by Christopher Lennertz, a fan of the Chipmunks since childhood. La-La Land Records released a limited edition album on September 19, 2008.

  1. Main Title (1:07)
  2. I'm Late (:40)
  3. Ever? (2:07)
  4. Dave's Theme (:48)
  5. No More Nuts/Storing Food for the Winter (4:43)
  6. Rescue the Gear/Toaster Waffles (1:44)
  7. Leave Me Alone (2:17)
  8. I'll Clean Out My Office (1:35)
  9. Are You Awake? (1:13)
  10. Christmas Morning (4:09)
  11. Live with Uncle Ian (2:36)
  12. Dinner! (2:07)
  13. Dave Remembers/Missing the Boys (1:08)
  14. Get Them! (1:03)
  15. Dave's Phone Call (1:06)
  16. Theodore's Nightmare (1:05)
  17. I Want to Go Home (1:28)
  18. Alvin!!!/You'll Never Take Us Alive (4:09)

Release

The first poster for Alvin and the Chipmunks was revealed online on July 4, 2007. Later that month, Fox launched the official website for Alvin and the Chipmunks with only a trailer and synopsis; Several games were added later on. In an August 2007 survey of 750 American teens ran by eCRUSH and OTX, Alvin and the Chipmunks, alongside Saw IV, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Mama's Boy, Fred Claus, I Am Legend, and Enchanted, were the most anticipated films of the 2007 fall and winter seasons in the group.

Accolades

Fox submitted Alvin and the Chipmunks to the Academy Awards for a Best Animated Feature before the film had a theatrical run required for the award; it wasn't nominated. Upon the announcement of the submitted films, Brad Brevet of ComingSoon.net question the submission of a live-action/animated film like Alvin: "I mean, why wouldn’t Transformers then be considered animated?" While the Movieguide Awards named Alvin and the Chipmunks the third best family film of 2007, PopMatters called it the second worst film of the year. It was also named one of 2007's worst pictures by science fiction writer John Varley. In 2011, Entertainment Weekly ranked Alvin and the Chipmunks the third worst live-action/animation hybrid film of all-time. In terms of lists regarding the worst talking animal films of all time, both Complex and Screen Rant named it eleventh worst. In 2013, it was ranked by GamesRadar the 48th worst Christmas movie ever. In 2016, Box Office Prophets ranked it the fifth worst live-action film based on a cartoon. The film also won a Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Movie, a BMI Film & TV Award for Film Music, and was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Family Feature Film (Fantasy or Musical).

Box office

Alvin and the Chipmunks was released in North America on December 14, 2007. The film grossed $44.3 million in 3,475 theaters its opening weekend averaging to about $12,750 per venue, and placing second at the box office behind I Am Legend. Its second weekend was $28.2 million, behind National Treasure: Book of Secrets and I Am Legend. On its third weekend, it surpassed I Am Legend for #2 at the box office, but still ranked behind National Treasure: Book of Secrets. The film closed on Thursday June 5, 2008, making $217.3 million in the US and $144 million overseas for a total of $361.3 million worldwide. The sustained box-office success surprised the studio; Elizabeth Gabler of Fox 2000 told the Los Angeles Times, "I look at the numbers every day, and we just laugh". Given its $60 million budget, Alvin was far more profitable than either I Am Legend or National Treasure: Book of Secrets. According to MTV, it also became the highest-grossing talking animal/cartoon adaptation until its sequel. It is also 20th Century Fox's highest-grossing film in the US to be released in 2007.

Home media

Alvin and the Chipmunks was released on DVD in North America, Greece, and Mexico on April 1, 2008; Hong Kong on April 10, 2008; the United Kingdom on April 14, 2008; and Taiwan on November 24, 2008. On Blu-ray, the film was issued in the United States on April 1, 2008; Portugal, South Africa, and the United Kingdom on April 14, 2008, Germany on April 25, 2008; Australia on June 18, 2008; Norway and Sweden on July 2, 2008; South Korea on July 7, 2008; Brazil on July 10, 2008; Finland on July 11, 2008; Hong Kong on July 18, 2008; Taiwan on August 8, 2008; France on November 19, 2008; Denmark on December 19, 2009; Canada on March 29, 2011; Mexico on October 16, 2011; and Spain on November 16, 2011. Also on April 1, 2008, a Blu-ray "gift set" that included dolls of all the three chipmunks alongside the movie was released. On Amazon Prime, the film was originally released in standard definition on March 30, 2010 before being issued in HD on September 18, 2012; and it was made available on Movies Anywhere on October 12, 2017.

Marketing

Video game

The video game for this film was released December 4, 2007 for the Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, and the PC. It was written and produced by DeeTown Entertainment.

Sequels

A sequel, titled Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, was released on December 23, 2009. Zachary Levi joined the cast to replace Jason Lee due to his small role and because of his role on My Name Is Earl; the main cast members reprised their roles for the sequel and the film also re-introduced the Chipettes. A third film, titled Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, was released on December 16, 2011. A fourth film, titled Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, was released on December 18, 2015.

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