Currently released worldwide by Columbia Pictures, director Will Gluck Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is the charming sequel to the 2018 hit about a bunny who is an adorable thug. Much of the first film’s creative team came together for the new film, including its award-winning sound team led by re-recording mixer Kevin O’Connell, supervising sound editor Robert Mackenzie and re-recording/supervising mixer Andy Wright.
O’Connell, Mackenzie and Wright, who prepared the final mix at the Sony Pictures Post facility in Culver City, took on the formidable challenge of constructing a soundscape to match the unique world inhabited by Peter, his family and friends. The film’s visuals are a stunning blend of live action and animation with the talking, computer-animated bunnies seamlessly integrated into a real environment. The results look perfectly natural and magical at the same time.
The sound team’s goal was to draw the audience into Peter’s world. “Will Gluck wanted people to believe they were in an English countryside where there is nothing more natural than talking about rabbits,” says O’Connell, whose past collaborations with Mackenzie and Wright also included Hacksaw Ridge. , which won them a 2017 Academy Award for sound. Mixed. “People should be completely caught up in the whimsical adventure.”
“Our goal was to support the editing of the picture so that Will could see how the heart of the film was coming together,” says Wright. “Rough cuts featured the voice actors and 2D character designs, but the illusion wasn’t there until the footsteps and atmospheres were added.”
Mackenzie says the background soundscapes were as detailed and rich as any completely live-action film. The Foley sound effects created for Peter and the other animated creatures were designed to mimic the sounds of real animals. “Will didn’t want any kind of cartoon sounds associated with Peter or the other bunnies,” he explains. Everything is very real. The bunnies are animated, but they don’t look animated, and the sound does a lot of the work to ground them in reality.
Final mixing was done in Dolby Atmos at Sony Pictures’ 229-seat William Holden Theater with O’Connell at the controls of an Avid S6 console. Wright says the room was the perfect space to create a dimensional sound experience. “The mixing stages at Sony are brilliant and supported by a wonderful team of engineers,” he observes. “You can feel the history in the room.”
O’Connell says Gluck was deeply involved in the mixing sessions and keenly interested in using the nuances of sound to drive the story forward, increase realism and emphasize humor. “We were always on the same page,” he recalls. “Will was determined to maintain a natural feel and immediately noted anything that didn’t fit that aesthetic. He’s a hands-on director, but he left us room to apply our craft and deliver a movie that was funny, fast-paced, and ultimately inspiring.
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is currently playing in theaters around the world and has grossed over $126 million worldwide.