Titan A.E.

Titan A.E.
Titan A.E.

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
Produced by Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
David Kirschner
Screenplay by Ben Edlund
John August
Joss Whedon
Story by Hans Bauer
Randall McCormick
Starring Matt Damon
Bill Pullman
John Leguizamo
Nathan Lane
Janeane Garofalo
Drew Barrymore
Mark Linn-Baker
Music by Graeme Revell
Studio David Kirschner Productions
Fox Animation Studios
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) June 16, 2000
Running time 93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $75,000,000
Box office $36,754,634

Titan A.E. is an American animated post-apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman released in 2000. The title refers to the spacecraft that is central to the plot, with A.E. meaning "After Earth."

The film's animation technique combines traditional hand-drawn animation (with digital ink and paint/animation using Toon Boom) and extensive use of computer generated imagery and features the voices of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman and Drew Barrymore. Its working title was Planet Ice. The film was unsuccessful at the box office barely grossing half of its production budget. It is also the final film made by Fox Animation Studios before its closure. (The studio was later re-opened in 2009, returning with Fantastic Mr. Fox.) The film has since achieved cult film status.



In 3028 AD, humanity has developed deep-space travel. An experimental discovery called Project Titan has caused the Drej, a malevolent, energy-based species, to become alarmed. Fearing humans will become the dominant species in the galaxy, the Drej declare war on humanity. As the Drej are about to destroy Earth, Professor Sam Tucker (Ron Perlman), the lead researcher for Project Titan, gives his son, Cale (Alex D. Linz), a ring and sends Cale on one of the evacuation ships with his alien friend, Tek (Tone Loc). Meanwhile, Sam and other members of his team fly the Titan spacecraft from Earth and into hyperspace. Earth is destroyed, and the remainder of the humans become drifters, generally ridiculed by other species.

Fifteen years after Earth's destruction, In 3043, Cale (Matt Damon) works in a salvage yard in the Tau 14 asteroid belt alongside Tek. Cale meets Joseph Korso (Bill Pullman), a human captain who requests Cale's help to find the Titan. He shows Cale how his ring contains a map to the Titan. It is genetically-encoded to Cale's father and will also respond to Cale himself, making him the only chance for humanity's future. Cale and Korso escape to Korso's ship as the Drej arrive and attempt pursuit.

Cale is introduced to the other members of Korso's alien crew; sly first mate Preed (Nathan Lane), astrogator Gune (John Leguizamo), and cranky weapons expert, Stith (Janeane Garofalo). The only other human is co-pilot Akima (Drew Barrymore), to whom Cale is immediately attracted. They travel to the planet Sesharrim, where the Gaoul, a race of bat-like creatures, helps Cale understand how to interpret the map and find the Titan, hidden in the Andali Nebula. The group is again attacked by the Drej, and Cale and Akima are captured. The Drej eventually discard Akima, sending her off into space in a pod where she is recovered by the Valkyrie crew. The Drej are able to extract the map from Cale, but Cale escapes on a Drej ship and reunites with the Valkyrie.

The Valkyrie is able to reach the human drifter colony called New Bangkok for repairs and preparation for the trip to the Titan. Cale and Akima overhear a disagreement between Korso and the Drej Queen, and discover that Korso and Preed are working for the Drej to try to destroy the Titan in exchange for money. Korso thinks the human race is doomed anyway and there is no hope; Cale and Akima escape from the Valkyrie, but she is wounded by Preed. They are stranded on the colony as Korso and the rest continue to the Titan's location. With the help of the other humans, Cale and Akima repair and refit the Phoenix, one of the colony's derelict spaceships, and race off to find the Titan before the Valkyrie reaches it.

Amid the Andali Nebula's giant ice crystals, Cale and Akima find the Titan. While exploring the massive ship, they discover a holographic message left by Cale's dead father, revealing the true nature of Project Titan: The ship is able to create a completely new, Earth-like planet, and has stores of all the DNA of the animal and plant life that once lived there. This was the reason the Drej feared humanity's potential enough to destroy Earth. Cale's father also explains that, after escaping the destruction of Earth, the Titan ran out of power and is unable to execute the recreation program. The Valkyrie arrives, and Korso and Preed board the Titan, leaving a bomb to kill Stith and Gune, both of whom are unaware of their captain's true intents. Gune detects the bomb and attempts to get rid of it, but it detonates and Gune apparently perishes in the explosion. As Korso and Preed corner Cale and Akima and interrupt his father's message, Preed turns on Korso, revealing a more tempting deal; Preed will live (and get paid for helping the Drej find the Titan), providing that he kills the others before they arrive. Akima manages to disarm Preed before he knocks her unconscious, but Korso sneaks up from behind and snaps his neck, killing him. Korso then tries to grab Cale's ring, but he falls into the depths of the Titan. However, he manages to save himself by grabbing onto a cable. The Drej arrive and begin attacking the Titan.

Surviving Preed's bomb, Stith shows up and the three work to defend the Titan from the Drej. Cale realizes that, by re-configuring the Titan, they can use the Drej to start the ship's reactor since they are pure energy. Korso, who had managed to climb back up and hide himself from the others, overhears this and realizes that he was wrong and that there is hope after all. Cale activates the circuit breakers, but only two of the three lock in place. The final one is jammed and fails to complete the circuit. Cale dons a space suit and goes outside to fix it. Outside, Gune, who also survived the bomb, uses the Valkriye's guns to fight the Drej.

As Cale reaches the breaker station, he is pinned by a Drej ship Gune shot down. Korso then appears before Cale with a large laser rifle. But instead of killing him, Korso blasts Cale free and says how they may be able to defeat the Drej after all. Korso tells Cale to get to the breaker while he provides him cover fire. Cale reaches the faulty breaker, but unfortunately, he still cannot fix it. As the Drej prepare for a final attack, Korso tells Cale to activate the ship and he will take care of the breaker. Holding his gun as a bridge in the breaker, Korso jumps the circuit and starts the reactor, although at the cost of his own life. The Drej are absorbed into the Titan's engines, and the ship then uses the surrounding ice field to create a new planet.

As Cale and Akima step onto the new planet, Cale jokingly decides to call it "Bob." The film ends with Cale and Akima romantically embracing each other, the surviving crew of the Valkyrie flying off, and other ships with human colonies approach "New Earth" (aka Planet Bob) to start their new lives.

Voice cast

  • Matt Damon as Cale Tucker, a 20-year-old human, separated from his father moments before the destruction of Earth by the Drej 15 years earlier. He is summoned by Joseph Korso to search for the Titan. Animation supervised by Len Simon.
  • Drew Barrymore as Akima Kunimoto, the pilot of the Valkyrie. She works under Captain Korso and is determined to save the human race from extinction. Animation supervised by Len Simon.
  • Bill Pullman as Joseph Korso, the captain of the Valkyrie and once an ally of Sam Tucker. He has Cale join the Valkyrie crew in search of the Titan. Animation supervised by Len Simon.
  • Christopher Scarabosio as Queen Drej, the leader of the Drej. Her sole purpose is to extinguish the human race from the universe.
  • John Leguizamo as Gune, Grepoan and Korso's eccentric scientist. While he looks the opposite, he is quite intelligent and even knows how to pilot the Valkyrie, but seems to have a serious distraction problem. Animation supervised by Troy Saliba.
  • Nathan Lane as Preed, Korso's first mate. An Akrennian (a race of bat-like creatures) in his late 30s or early 40s who speaks with an English accent, he is sarcastic and has a crush on Akima. Unlike Korso, money is meaningless to him as he only cares about his own life. When he betrays his closest comrades to the Drej, he is killed by Korso (who breaks his neck). "The particular alien race that Preed belongs to is very haughty, floating above it all," explains co-director Goldman. "Nathan just seemed appropriate--he can really put on airs when he needs to." In giving voice to Preed, Lane has said he took aural inspiration from none other than the imperious George Sanders. Described in the Ben Edlund 12/15/97 Goldenrod Production draft of the screenplay as a "fruit bat-faced alien" whose full name is Preedex Yoa. Animation supervised by Edison Goncalves.
  • Janeane Garofalo as Stith, a kangaroo-like alien known as a Mantrin/Sogowan, who has a cranky but lovable attitude. She is Korso's tough weapons expert. A good friend to Akima, she is also protective of Gune, but highly distrusts Preed. Animation supervised by Troy Saliba.
  • Ron Perlman as Sam Tucker, the father of Cale Tucker who was forced to leave his son to hide the Titan from the Drej and was killed when he refuses to disclose the Titan's location to them.
  • Tone Loc as Tek, a university student and Sam Tucker's friend. At some point during the fifteen years since Earth's descruction he has become totally blind. Animation supervised by Edison Goncalves.
  • Jim Breuer as The Cook, an alien who despises humans. The Ben Edlund 12/15/97 Goldenrod Production draft of the screenplay reveals his name is It, though no mention of this is ever made in the film.
  • Jim Cummings as Chowquin, Cale's overseer on Tau 14.
  • Charles Rocket as Firrikash, a large alien co-worker of Cale's on Tau-14, who despises humans. He, along with his friend, Po, tried to beat Cale up while he was alone in the basement of the space station, but Korso intervened, quickly subduing the pair.
  • Ken Hudson Campbell as Po, another alien co-worker of Cale's and a friend of Firrikash.

Digital screening

Titan A.E. became the first major motion picture to take part in end-to-end digital cinema. On June 6, 2000, ten days before the movie was released, at the SuperComm 2000 tradeshow, the movie was projected simultaneously at the trade show in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a screen in Los Angeles, California. It was sent to both screens from the 20th Century Fox production facilities in Los Angeles via a VPN.[1]


Titan A.E. primarily deals with the idea of human existence after the destruction of Earth. The movie opens with the destruction of Earth and primarily takes place 15 years after this event. Since that time, humans’ numbers have dwindled and there is a general prejudice against them from other species. Many humans, even ones who once fought to save humanity, have given up on the species and concluded that extinction is only a matter of time. Cale is initially cynical in this way but begins to believe in saving his species more after spending time on a “drifter colony” full of humans and relics from Earth.


While Titan A.E. was met with a mixed to positive critical response, even receiving an Annie Award nomination for Best Animated Feature that it lost to Toy Story 2, the film ultimately flopped; it was a financial failure and, as a result, Fox Animation Studios was shut down. The film opened at #5, with only $9,376,845 for an average of only $3,430 from each of its 2,734 theaters. The film then lost 60% of its audience in its second weekend, dropping to #8, with a gross of just $3,735,300 for an average of just $1,346 from 2,775 theaters. The film ended up grossing a mere $36,754,634 worldwide ($22,753,426 in the United States and Canada, and $14,001,208 in international markets).

A reason commonly given for the financial failure of Titan A.E. is its poor marketing with a poorly-identified target audience. It combined post-apocalyptic situations with childlike supporting characters, and people were unsure, having seen trailers for the film, whether it was intended for an older sci-fi fan crowd, or whether it was pitched more at children. This confusion was further increased by the mixture of people used to write and direct the production. Don Bluth added to the confusion when he stated during an interview with HBO's First Look, "This is not one of those cute, little kid musicals; this film is nothing but action." The film received 51% positive reviews from critics according to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Notably, though, film critic Roger Ebert enjoyed it, giving it 3.5/4 stars for its "rousing story", "largeness of spirit", and "lush galactic visuals [which] are beautiful in the same way photos by the Hubble Space Telescope are beautiful." He cited the Ice Rings sequence as "a perfect example of what animation can do and live action cannot."[2]


To tie in with the film, there were a series of prequel novels released, as well as a prequel comic book mini-series.

  • Cale's Story: The adventures of Cale, ending with the beginning of the film. The book chronicles Cale growing up on Vusstra, Tek's home planet, for ten years and having to move to a different place every time the Drej attack. It also reveals how Cale became resentful of his father's disappearance and how he came to despise drifter colonies.
  • Akima's Story: The adventures of Akima, ending with the beginning of the film. The book chronicles Akima's life aboard drifter colonies when she tries to be close to her family and how she trained to be a starship pilot after the Drej killed her grandmother and destroyed her most recent drifter colony. It also reveals where Akima learned her karate skills, her encounter and friendship with Stith, and the reason for which she is desperate to find the Titan.
  • Sam's Story: A Dark Horse Comics prequel comic telling the story of Sam Tucker and his crew, and their quest to hide the Titan.


No. Title Artist Length
1. "Over My Head"   Lit  
2. "The End is Over"   Powerman 5000  
3. "Cosmic Castaway"   Electrasy  
4. "Everything Under the Stars"   Fun Lovin' Criminals  
5. "It's My Turn to Fly"   The Urge  
6. "Like Lovers (Holding On)"   Texas  
7. "Not Quite Paradise"   Bliss 66  
8. "Everybody's Going to the Moon"   Jamiroquai  
9. "Karma Slave"   Splashdown  
10. "Renegade Survivor"   The Wailing Souls  
11. "Down to Earth"   Luscious Jackson  

Creed's song "Higher" was played in many of the theatrical trailers for Titan A.E., but the song did not appear either in the movie or on the soundtrack. Vertical Horizon's "We Are" and Lunatic Calm's "Leave You Far Behind" were also not included in the soundtrack though both songs appear in the theatrical trailer and the film itself.


External links

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