Shark Tale

For the video game, see Shark Tale (video game).
Shark Tale

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Vicky Jenson
Bibo Bergeron
Rob Letterman
Produced by Bill Damaschke
Janet Healy
Allison Lyon Segan
Written by Michael J. Wilson
Rob Letterman
Starring Will Smith
Robert De Niro
Renée Zellweger
Angelina Jolie
Jack Black
Martin Scorsese
Music by Hans Zimmer
Edited by Peter Lonsdale
John Venzon
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures1
Release dates
  • September 10, 2004 (2004-09-10) (Piazza San Marco, Venice)
  • October 1, 2004 (2004-10-01) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $75 million[2]
Box office $367.3 million[2]

Shark Tale is a 2004 American computer-animated comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation, directed by Vicky Jenson, Bibo Bergeron and Rob Letterman. The film stars Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, and Martin Scorsese. Other voices were provided by Ziggy Marley, Doug E. Doug, Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore and Peter Falk. It tells the story of a young fish named Oscar (Smith) who falsely claims to have killed the son of a shark mob boss (De Niro) to advance his own community standing.

Shark Tale opened at #1 with $47.6 million, which was the second-highest opening for a DreamWorks Animation film at the time, behind Shrek 2 ($108 million). It remained as the #1 film in the U.S. and Canada for its second and third weekends, and made $367 million worldwide against its $75 million budget. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.


In Reef City, an underachieving bluestreak cleaner wrasse named Oscar fantasizes about being rich and famous while making his way to work as a tongue scrubber at the local Whale Wash, a job in which he is following in his father's footsteps. Soon after arriving he is called to the office of his boss, a pufferfish named Sykes, to discuss the fact that he owes "five thousand clams" and has to pay it back by the next day. After explaining this to his angelfish best friend Angie, she offers him a chance to pay back the money by pawning a pink pearl that was a gift from her grandmother. Oscar brings the money to the race track to meet Sykes, but becomes distracted by his dreams of grandeur. Upon hearing that the race is rigged, he places it all on a long-shot bet by the name of "Lucky Day". Such a million dollar bet is noticed nearby by a beautiful lionfish named Lola, who flagrantly seduces an excited Oscar, but Oscar is disappointed when she leaves upon learning that he is a whale washer. Sykes is furious that Oscar bet the money but nonetheless agrees to see how the race turns out. Moments before their betted "horse" crosses the finish line, he trips and falls on the line.

Meanwhile, on another side of the ocean in the wreck of the R.M.S Titanic, a family of criminally-inclined great white sharks has a problem with one of their sons, Lenny, who is a vegetarian and refuses to act the part of a killer, wishing not to have to live up to those expectations. His crime lord father, Don Edward Lino, orders Lenny's more savage older brother Frankie to tutor Lenny in the family business. After the two sharks depart their father, Frankie sees Oscar being electrocuted by Sykes' two jellyfish enforcers Ernie and Bernie and sends Lenny off to attack. The jellyfish spot Lenny and flee, leaving Oscar alone with him. Instead of attacking Oscar, Lenny frees him, upsetting Frankie who becomes annoyed and charges at Oscar. However, Frankie is killed when an anchor falls on him. Lenny flees, overcome with grief and guilt. As no other witnesses were present and Oscar was seen near the body, everyone comes to believe that he killed Frankie, an opportunity that Oscar decides to exploit for fame.

Oscar returns to the city with a new title of the Sharkslayer. Sykes becomes his manager, Lola becomes his girlfriend, and Oscar moves to the "top of the reef" to live in luxury. At the same time, after Frankie's funeral, Don Lino has everyone out looking for Lenny. When several sharks get close to Oscar's neighborhood, Oscar's neighbors expect him to drive them away so he goes and runs into Lenny. Since he does not wish to return home, Lenny forces Oscar to let him stay with him since he is aware of Oscar's lie. Soon, Angie finds out about the lie as well and threatens to tell everyone. Oscar and Lenny convince her to keep quiet, though she is heartbroken by Oscar's dishonesty. Oscar's situation is not helped by the shallowed Lola, who indicates to him that her interest in him extends only as far as he remains famous. With Don Lino planning revenge, Oscar and Lenny stage an event in which Lenny pretends to terrorize the town and Oscar must defeat him throwing him into the depths of the ocean. Though this further cements Oscar as the Sharkslayer, it greatly angers Don Lino. Oscar leaves Lola for Angie after Angie reveals that she had feelings for Oscar even before he became famous, but this leaves the rebuffed Lola determined to get revenge.

Oscar buys some Valentine's Day gifts for Angie, but before he can present them to her, he finds that Don Lino has kidnapped Angie to force a sit-down. Lenny comes along now disguised as a dolphin named Sebastian. They arrive at the meeting to find Lola next to Don Lino, while Angie is tied up and gagged and presented to Don Lino on a plate who prepares to eat her if Oscar does not comply. Lenny grabs Angie into his mouth, but later regurgitates her. When Don Lino realizes that "Sebastian" is really Lenny, he chases Oscar through the reef. Oscar heads for the Whale Wash and ends up trapping both sharks. He is given an ovation by the other fish, but Oscar confesses that he is not a "Sharkslayer" and reveals the truth behind Frankie's death. He then tells Don Lino that everyone likes Lenny for who he is and strongly urges him not to prejudge people before he knows them properly and make the mistakes he made in prejudging his wealth. Realizing that Oscar is right, Don Lino apologizes to Lenny and reconciles with him while making peace with Oscar, stating that he and his gang bear him no ill will. Oscar forsakes all the wealth he has acquired, makes peace with the sharks, becomes co-manager of the Whale Wash (now frequented by sharks, killer whales, and swordfish), and starts dating Angie and enjoys a happy, honest life.

During the credits, Lola tries to find Oscar to make amends, but all she finds is a hermit crab named Crazy Joe, one of Oscar's friends.



The film was originally developed under the title of Sharkslayer.[8] By September 2003, however, it had been retitled Shark Tale, to make it less violent and more family friendly.[9][10] Bill Damaschke, the producer of the film, explained the change of the title: "We set out to make a movie a little more noir, perhaps a little darker than where we've landed."[11] In April 2002, production officially began.[3]

The film was produced concurrently with Finding Nemo, another animated film set underwater, which was released a year and a half before Shark Tale. DreamWorks Animation's CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, defended the film, saying that "any similarities are mere coincidence. We've been open with the Pixar people so we don't step on each other's toes."[4]


Piazza San Marco, Venice, a day before the film's world premiere, where it was projected on the world's largest inflatable movie screen.

Shark Tale had its worldwide premiere on September 10, 2004 in Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy.[12] Screening as part of the Venice Film Festival, it marked the first time that Piazza San Marco was closed for a premiere of a major feature film.[12] The film was projected on the largest inflatable screen in the world, measuring more than six stories tall and over 3,900 square feet (360 m2). It required 20,000 cubic feet (570 m3) of air to inflate and more than 50 tons of water for stabilization.[12] The premiere was attended by 6,000 visitors,[13] including Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro and Michael Imperioli.[12] Jeffrey Katzenberg, the executive producer of the film, explained that they "wanted to find a unique way to introduce this movie to the world. We needed a big idea. ... More than anything, we are in showbusiness. This is the show part."[13]

Box office

Shark Tale opened at #1 with $47.6 million, which was, at the time, the second highest opening for a DreamWorks Animation film behind Shrek 2 ($108 million).[14] It remained as the #1 film in the U.S. and Canada for its second and third weekends.[15]

Overall, the movie grossed $160,861,908 in North America and $206,413,111 internationally, bringing its worldwide total to $367,275,019.[2]

Critical reception

The film received a 35% "Rotten" rating at the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus: "Derivative and full of pop culture in-jokes."[16] On another review aggregator, Metacritic, the film holds a 48 out of 100 rating or "mixed or average reviews."[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[18]

John Mancini, the founder of the Italic Institute of America, protested Shark Tale for perpetuating negative stereotypes of Italian-Americans.[19] DreamWorks reacted by changing the name of Peter Falk's character from Don Brizzi to Don Feinberg. However, Mancini demanded that everything Italian—character names, the mannerisms, the forms of speech—should be dropped."[19] The American Family Association, a Christian conservative organization, raised concerns about Shark Tale, suggesting that it was designed to promote the acceptance of gay rights by children.[20]

Roger Ebert gave Shark Tale two out of four stars, observing, "Since the target audience for Shark Tale is presumably kids and younger teenagers, how many of them have seen the R-rated Godfather and will get all the inside jokes? Not a few, I suppose, and some of its characters and dialogue have passed into common knowledge. But it's strange that a kid-oriented film would be based on parody of a 1972 gangster movie for adults." He also opined that younger viewers would have trouble enjoying a film about adult characters with adult problems, such as an elaborate love triangle and a main character wanting to clear his debt with loan sharks, and compared it to more successful fish-focused animated features like Pixar's Finding Nemo, which Ebert felt featured a simpler plot that audiences could more easily identify with.[21] However, Richard Roeper commented that although the film wasn't on the same level as Finding Nemo, it was definitely a film worth seeing.[22]

Home media

Shark Tale was released on DVD and VHS[23] on February 8, 2005, accompanied with a DVD exclusive animated short film Club Oscar. The three and a half minute short film continues where the main film ends, showing the characters of Shark Tale dancing at the whale wash to a spoof of Saturday Night Fever.[24] It was also released on Game Boy Advance Video in October 2005.[25]


Award Category Name Outcome
Academy Awards[26][27] Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Bill Damaschke Nominated
Annie Awards[28] Annie Award for Best Animated Effects in an Animated Production Scott Cegielski Nominated
Annie Award for Best Character Animation in a Feature Production Ken Duncan Nominated
Annie Award for Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Carlos Grangel Nominated
Annie Award for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Armand Baltazar Nominated
Samuel Michlap Nominated
Pierre-Olivier Vincent Nominated
Annie Award for Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production Michael J. Wilson
Rob Letterman
BAFTA Children's Awards[29] Best Feature Film Nominated
BET Comedy Awards[30] Best Performance in an Animated Theatrical Film Will Smith Nominated
Casting Society of America[31] Best Animated Voice-Over Feature Casting Leslee Feldman Won
Golden Reel Awards[32] Best Sound Editing in an Animated Feature Film Richard L. Anderson
Thomas Jones
Wade Wilson
Mark Binder
Mike Chock
Ralph Osborn
David Williams
Mark A. Mangini
Slamm Andrews
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards[33] Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Will Smith Won
Saturn Awards[34] Saturn Award for Best Animated Film Nominated
Visual Effects Society[35] Outstanding Performance by an Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture Renée Zellweger
Ken Duncan


Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released September 21, 2004
Genre R&B, hip hop, soul
Length 50:33
Label Geffen, DreamWorks, UMG
Producer Timbaland, Jam & Lewis, Ron Fair, Missy Elliott, The Underdogs, Dre & Vidal, The Trak Starz, Hans Zimmer

Shark Tale: Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on September 21, 2004. The soundtrack features newly recorded music by various artists, including Justin Timberlake with Timbaland, Christina Aguilera, JoJo, Ludacris, Mary J. Blige, and Will Smith, and also features the first song recorded by pop group The Pussycat Dolls as well as the film's closing theme composed by Hans Zimmer.

Janet Jackson and Beyoncé initially planned to record a duet for the film's soundtrack. Jackson's frequent collaborator Jimmy Jam, who had recently worked with Beyoncé for The Fighting Temptations soundtrack, commented "Obviously we'd love to have the involvement of Janet and Beyonce, who we just worked with on Fighting Temptations. They've already expressed interest", adding "There are a lot of opportunities with an animated piece to work with some different people."[36] Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks' Animations, had appointed Jackson's producers Jam & Lewis to be involved with the soundtrack, though the duo only ended up producing only one song for the film, with Jam saying "We worked for DreamWorks before on the Bryan Adams song for Spirit and the Boyz II Men tune for Prince of Egypt, and Katzenberg is a fan of what we do. He thought we would be perfect to do the music for Shark Tale."[36]

No. TitleWriter(s)Producer(s) Length
1. "Three Little Birds" (Sean Paul and Ziggy Marley)Bob MarleyStephen Marley 3:37
2. "Car Wash (Shark Tale Mix)" (Christina Aguilera featuring Missy Elliott)Norman Whitfield (additional lyrics by Missy Elliott)Missy Elliott, Ron Fair 3:50
3. "Good Foot" (Justin Timberlake featuring Timbaland)Timberlake, Timothy MosleyTimbaland 3:57
4. "Secret Love" (JoJo)Samantha Jade, Jared Gosselin, Phillip WhiteWhite, Jared 4:00
5. "Lies & Rumours" (D12)DeShaun Holton, J. Rotem, Denaun Porter, O. Moore, V. Carlisle, Rufus Johnson, M. ChavarriaDenaun Porter 4:20
6. "Got to Be Real" (Mary J. Blige featuring Will Smith)David Foster, David Paich & Cheryl LynnAndre Harris, Vidal Davis 3:33
7. "Can't Wait" (Avant)Damon E. Thomas, Antonio Dixon, Harvey W. Mason, Eric Dawkins, Steven RussellThe Underdogs 3:44
8. "Gold Digger" (Ludacris featuring Bobby Valentino & Lil' Fate)Alonzo Lee, Shamar Daugherty, Christopher Bridges, Bobby Wilson, Arbie WilsonThe Trak Starz 3:47
9. "Get It Together" (India.Arie)Drew Ramsey, Shannon Sanders, India.Arie, Dana Johnson, Mel JohnsonIndia.Arie, Sanders, Ramsey 4:54
10. "We Went as Far as We Felt Like Going" (The Pussycat Dolls)Bob Crewe, Kenny NolanRon Fair 3:51
11. "Digits" (Fan 3)Allison Lurie, Paul Robb, David Clayton-Thomas, Fred LipsiusBitCrusher 3:41
12. "Sweet Kind of Life" (Cheryl Lynn)James Harris III, Terry Lewis, Cheryl Lynn, Bobby Ross Avila, Issiah J. Avila, Tony Tolbert, James Q. WrightJimmy Jam, Terry Lewis 3:59
13. "Some of My Best Friends Are Sharks" (Hans Zimmer)Hans ZimmerHans Zimmer 3:25
Total length:


Chart (2004) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 34
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 48

Possible sequel

In April 2011, Jeffrey Katzenberg commented that the studio did not have plans to produce future movie genre parodies, like Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Megamind, saying that these films "all shared an approach and tone and idea of parody, and did not travel well internationally. We don't have anything like that coming on our schedule now."[37]

Video game

A video game based on the film was released on September 29, 2004 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Game Boy Advance.[38] Published by Activision, Edge of Reality developed the console versions of the game, while Vicarious Visions developed the Game Boy Advance version, and Amaze Entertainment developed the PC version.[38] The cast from the film did not reprise their roles in the game.

See also


  1. ^ In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation.[39]


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  19. 1 2 "'Shark Tale' offensive to Italian Americans?". MSNBC. Associated Press. April 6, 2004. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  20. Berkowitz, Bill (April 19, 2007). "Still Cranky After All These Years". Media Transparency. Archived from the original on December 23, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011. In 2004, the AFA went after the movie 'Shark Tale,' because the group believed the movie was designed to brainwash children into accepting gay rights.
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  30. BET (August 17, 2005). "Martin Lawrence Draws Top Honors at BET's 2005 COMEDY AWARDS Hosted by Steve Harvey in Laugh-Filled Telecast on September 27" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  31. "Artios Awards". The Casting Society of America. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
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  34. Puig, Yvonne Georgina (February 9, 2005). "'Potter' tops Saturn nods". Variety. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  35. McNary, Dave (January 10, 2005). "Spidey pic catches 6 f/x noms from VES". Variety. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
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