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TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES

About The Production
What makes a real hero? It's not the costumes, the gadgets, the cool powers. It's having your own movie!

When teeny Teen Titan Robin learns that the story of Batman's greatest ally and best friend in the whole world is coming to the big screen, and it is not about him-and that Hollywood is making movies about every superhero but him-he declares, "It's time they make one about me!"

But then he's hit with the cold, hard truth: Hollywood only makes movies about real superheroes. "Why don't they take us seriously?" the boy wonders.

Maybe because a superhero has to save more than...room for dessert?

Adapted for the big screen from Cartoon Network's "Teen Titans GO!" to be a lot bigger, a lot longer, but as cheekily irrepressible as ever, "Teen Titans GO! to the Movies" is a superhero movie for the whole family. It is also the brainchild of the same team that generates the wildly popular half-hour series.

Director/producer Peter Rida Michail says that while the Teens-Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy-see themselves as superheroes, "our version of the Teen Titans are more or less outcasts from the hero world. They're a bunch of really silly friends having a blast just hanging out more than actually fighting crime."

Director/writer/producer Aaron Horvath believes the Teens have a pretty good gig. "I would say it's better to be a sidekick than a hero," he observes. "There's probably a little more humiliation involved, but a lot less pressure-you don't get the spotlight, but nobody's looking at you when the timer on the doomsday clock is counting down. That's for Batman to worry about!"

The Teens' sub-superhero status, combined with their inherent impertinence, inspired the filmmakers to have the Titans skewer their own genre in their own genre film. Writer/producer Michael Jelenic states, "In the movie, we subvert the superhero world in a lot of ways, poking fun at all the things fans expect out of those movies and all the things we've seen before. So, it's a superhero movie that's not your typical superhero movie; it turns everything on its head, but it's all in good fun and we stay true to ourselves, which we know is important to fans of the show."

"I think Aaron, Michael and Pete will all agree that we got to do so much more than we ever have in the series," producer Peggy Regan states. "TV is just such an aggressive schedule so there is little time to dwell on creative choices. With the movie, we got to spend time developing the story and characters, and when audiences see it in the theater, they'll see how vastly different the experience is."

The idea to supersize this team of teen heroes who kick butt (eventually) from the small to big screen came from President of Warner Bros. Animation and the movie's executive producer, Sam Register, a self-professed fan of the early comic book lineups. "The Teen Titans comic came out in the 1960s, and it was really just the sidekicks of the day: Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Aqualad and, of course, Robin. But in the `80s, there was a new version done by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, and that's when I fell in love with the Teen Titans. That's when it became Robin, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Raven and Starfire as the core team. They were like the comics' version of the 'Breakfast Club' kids." Register took his love from the page to the TV screen in 2002 with, as he describes it, "a more straightforward 'Teen Titans' action series with a lot of comedy in it." That original incarnation, which aired from 2003 to 2006, was also a huge hit on Cartoon Network and when Register arrived at Warner Bros., they decided to evolve it into an all-out comedy. "That's when we threw in the 'GO!' and 'Teen Titans GO!' became our animated version of the roster."

As anyone in animation knows, characters are only as good as they sound, so voice casting is key to bringing any role to life. Originally cast for the "Teen Titans" series, and then brought on for "Teen Titans GO!," there was no question who would voice the film's core heroes: Greg Cipes as goofball shapeshifter Beast Boy, Scott Menville as straight man Robin, Khary Payton as optimistic boybot Cyborg, Tara Strong as demon daughter Raven, and Hynden Walch as alien princess Starfire.

"Working with this cast has always been a blessing, like we were given a gift," Horvath says. "They know these characters inside and out, and the actors themselves are just the funniest people, so we've been able to draw a lot on their personalities and what they bring to their roles." Rida Michail concurs. "For the TV show, they all perform together, so they feed off each other and we let them run with it." While schedules didn't allow for them all to record together for the feature film, Rida Michail says it made no difference to the seasoned pros. "We gave them the script and they just rocked it, as always."

"Teen Titans GO! to the Movies" also attracted an impressive list of guest voice actors, including Will Arnett as the Super-Villain Slade and Kristen Bell as Hollywood's hottest film director, Jade Wilson, along with a host of talent in cameo roles-artists from movies, TV and music that will have fans staying in their seats for the credit crawl.

Finally, the filmmakers understood that, because it's "Teen Titans GO!," fans would not only expect belly laughs with their heroic feats, but catchy musical numbers as well. As was the intent with the story, they also knew they had to pump up the volume when it came to the songs. They went all out, creating original pop, rap, rock and EDM music "videos"-five in all, including the Teens' "GO!" anthem-and, as in a stage musical, each song serves to propel the story as well as entertain.

Arnett, who is also a producer on the film as well as a longtime fan of the property, says, "Music has always been at the heart of the Teen Titans experience, from 'Waffles' to 'Sour Grapes,' but I think we've taken it to another level. There are so many great songs in the film that will, hopefully, get lodged into people's consciousness and have them annoying their friends forever."

Putting it all together, "Teen Titans GO! to the Movies" is a toe-tapping, time-traveling, roadtripping adventure that takes our hopeful heroes from their native Jump City to the glitz and glamour of Tinsel Town.

ROBIN: Sidekick No More!

Robin's biggest hang up (besides his super small hands) is being seen as a sidekick-even if he is the most famous sidekick in all of superherodom. Despite his pint-sized body and lack of any actual superpowers, Robin's got big aspirations. He dreams of becoming a star because, to him, fame equals respect, and respect is what it takes to be taken seriously as a crime-fighting superhero. Scott Menville provides the voice for the Boy Wonder, who he describes as "an obsessive, manic, determined version of Robin. He's very one-track-minded and will stop at nothing to get what he wants, whether it's finding the perfect sandwich or taking down a Super-Villain."

As with all things meta, in the film, Robin's focus is being in a film. "He wants his own movie. Whether it's with the team or just himself, he wants it to happen, and he's very serious about it," he continues.

Ironically, Menville says, the key to playing Robin-and all the Teens-is to be just the opposite. "Nobody working on the show, or now on the film, takes themselves too seriously." Just like the movie pokes fun at its own film universe, he notes, "we poke fun at ourselves all the time; it's about finding the humor wherever you can. There are jokes that go over kids' heads that adult viewers will laugh at, and I think that's the reason it works-it fires on all different levels."

Unfortunately for the onscreen crew, Menville offers, "Robin's determination to make this movie career happen for himself affects the others. Sure, there's still going to be bathroom humor and arguments over what's better, burgers vs. burritos. But you might also see some hurt feelings, some fallout within the ranks. You might even see Robin's head swell a little bit...which makes his baby hands seem even smaller."

STARFIRE: She Is The Awesome!

An adorable alien princess with an affinity for all things cute, Starfire is sweet and kindhearted, but equally fierce, with such superpowers as flying, super strength, shooting star bolts from her hands and laser beams from her eyes, and creating force fields.

"She does have a little trouble with the English language, though," laughs Hynden Walch, the voice of Starfire, who equates her character with "a foreign exchange student or a fish out of water. She's not dumb, she's super smart. She's just from out of town."

Walch appreciated the opportunity not only to expand the series to feature length, but to do so with all of her longtime voice acting cohorts, with whom she's played some form of the Teens on and off for over 15 years. "We've obviously gotten to know each other over that time and, while we're all very different people, we genuinely like each other. Like the Teen Titans, you can be very different and still have so much love and respect for each other. That's our unifying factor."

She feels similarly lucky to work alongside the "GO!" creatives. "Aaron, Michael and Pete are phenomenal; they totally kill it with the writing." Like Menville, Walch says, "Their brand of comedy, high satire, is like taking a comic book and infusing it with Looney Tunes. It's a multi-level experience for everyone, of every age; it's hilarious if you're five and if you're fifty."

CYBORG: Half Robot, All Party Animal-Booya!

Waffle-loving, rowdy and robotic, Cyborg is part man, but the rest is all advanced technology. Super strong, he can transform himself into any manner of machine, as well as shoot lasers from his fingers, and fly.

Khary Payton, who voices him, reveals that one of his favorite things about playing Cyborg aligns with one of his favorite things about the Teen Titans. "It's getting to be around some of your favorite people all the time, you know?" Still, he also understands the Titans' need for independence-in the case of the film, especially Robin's. "There's nothing like striking out on your own, and that's what teenagers are always striving to do, working up their courage to step out into the world. That's what being a Teen Titan is about. But they always come together again, because that's also what being a Titan is about, the friendships. In Cyborg's opinion, Robin is one of the hardest working heroes in the world, with no powers and tiny little silly baby hands. Somebody's got to help this guy, right? So, they'll go to Hollywood and see if they can help get him that movie."

Payton also appreciates that part of what unites the Teens is their differences. "I love that they're a group of people from all different walks of life. Literally, different galaxies. They're gray, green, orange, black and blue. Figuring out what makes them different is what makes them special. Cyborg is a half-robot dude who has learned to embrace the fact that he is a half-robot dude, and he thoroughly enjoys it."

As Cyborg is physically the biggest of the Teens, Payton doesn't hesitate to play him that way from the inside, as well. "Bigger is always better as far as Cyborg is concerned," he smiles. "Nobody's ever come to me and said, 'Could you be more subtle?' He may be mostly mechanical, but Cyborg lives with his human emotions right there for everybody to see. You never have to wonder how he's doing; he's just going to blurt it out and tell you. And usually throw a 'booya' in at the end."

BEAST BOY: Maybe Not the Smartest, Definitely the Silliest!

Definitely in touch with his inner child, Beast Boy has a goofy sense of humor but one of the coolest superpowers around: the ability to transform himself into any animal that's ever walked-or flown over-the Earth.

Greg Cipes, the actor who voices him, is uniquely qualified to play Beast Boy. "I've always spent as much time as I can with animals-dogs, cats, horses, snakes, parrots..." he relates. "They've got the ability to be completely present with you, and I feel like animals are guides to living a happy life. And that's Beast Boy, he is the Teen Titan who leads the way to having fun."

Cipes won the role for the original "Teen Titans" series at his first voiceover audition ever, making his the first-ever voice of Beast Boy. It was a voice he'd never tried before that day. "They showed me a picture and described him as a loveable class clown. All of a sudden, his voice came out. He's so wild and free, and that's really therapeutic for me. Over the years he's evolved, and it's been really fun to play the many versions of Beast Boy I've helped create in that time, and now to get to be part of his first movie."

Amid all the Teens' excitement-hobnobbing with big time Super Heroes (even if their Super friends are just showing up to save the day), going to red carpet premieres (even if they have to sneak in)-Cipes says that "this new adventure is going to both test and unite the team, but it's also going to push their relationships to a new place: a place of greater trust. They'll be using their collective superpowers to make a difference in their world...and to make a great movie, of course." RAVEN: Azarath... Metrion... Zinthos!

Daughter of the demon Trigon, mostly monotone Raven sports the dry sense of humor of a Goth girl, but that and the dark wardrobe are where the similarities end. Incredibly powerful, Raven can not only float and fly, but she can open portals that transport the Teens to various locations in space and time.

"Raven is sort of the silent hero of the group who would prefer to be reading or meditating," says Strong, who finds the character's low-key nature a bit tricky. "She doesn't really get excited, so to make big moments work with her low, guttural voice may not be vocally taxing, but, from an acting standpoint, can be challenging."

Despite Raven's reserve, Strong attests, "If need be, she can save everyone." In fact, Raven comes to the rescue on more than one occasion in the movie. "She can create portals and do all kinds of crazy spells, and that comes in pretty handy, as you can imagine."

Maybe Raven just wants to be alone, but Strong was thrilled that her TV family, an ensemble she helped create, would be taking their roles to feature length. "When we found out, we were extremely elated. It's such collaborative work, so it's really nice to know that the network recognizes we've been a big part of the series' success. To not only warrant a feature, but to take us along for that ride, as well. It's never a given, so we're all very grateful."

Like Starfire, Cyborg and Beast Boy, Raven supports Robin's desire to be a movie star, not because she thinks it's necessary, but because he's her friend.

And that's what friends do.

No matter how harebrained or insanely dangerous it is.

Even if it puts you and your friends in the path of the world's most megalomaniacal SuperVillain, or worse: the world's greatest Hollywood movie director.

"I only make movies about real superheroes."

Hollywood director Jade Wilson has made a major motion picture about every superhero on the planet, and is even dipping into their gadgets, but she draws the line at...sidekicks. "I'm afraid it's no," she tells Robin when he pleads for his own feature film.

Kristen Bell voices the pragmatic filmmaker who undoubtedly has her bottom line in mind. "She understands that size matters," quips Bell. "In terms of a superhero film, bigger is better. The screen is huge, you want to fill it, but you do have to rely on having an emotional story to make it work. To her, the Teen Titans have dreams of being actual superheroes, but they're not quite cutting it. They're a ragtag group of misfits. She just doesn't view Robin, or his friends, as that compelling." The in-demand actress confesses that, for her, "Jade Wilson is a bit of a caricature. She sees herself as the one and only director of all directors, which is great because she fits in with the extremes and fantasies of the film. But, personally? In real life, I don't think I'd be able to work for her. She's not enough of a team player."

Rida Michail says it's not at all a description that fits Bell. "Kristen was incredible to work with, a ton of fun. She brought so much energy to the character."

Jelenic agrees. "We were lucky to get her. Anything we wrote, she made sound even funnier. She contributed a lot."

"Unless the project is specifically looking for you to invent something, creating the voice for any character is definitely a collaboration," Bell demurs. "'Teen Titans GO!' is an established show with well-known characters, and the directors wanted to come up with a character that would unequivocally unearth them a little bit and set them off on this difficult adventure that would lead them to find each other. I just took all of their input about who they wanted her to be, and that's how I found her. She's someone who seems to have the best of intentions for the team, but, well, does she?"

"I'm not Deadpool!"

If, as Robin believes, it's not the costume or the gadgets or even the cool superpowers, it's having a movie made about you that is the only way to be seen as a real superhero, then the Teen Titans' first order of business is to find themselves an arch nemesis. Every big screen superhero battles a Super-Villain, right?

Enter: SLAAAAAAAAAAAAADE!

A recurring villain in the canon-arguably the Titans' greatest foe-Slade is a serious bad guy and a master of mayhem, which the filmmakers knew would make for a real battle and a great choice for the film.

Like any good evil-doer, Slade's goal is to rule the world, and he's intent on using the Teen Titans to do it. He's a master of distraction and finds that when it comes to the highly suggestible Teens, a little sleight of hand goes a long way.

In a twist that would ruffle even Alfred's feather duster, the nefarious Slade is voiced in the movie by none other than LEGO Batman himself, Will Arnett.

Arnett, who also produced the film, is a huge fan. "My kids watch the series and I would hear it playing in the background," he says. "Most of the time when I hear shows that my kids are watching, I want to smash the TV, but with 'Teen Titans GO!' I'd hear jokes or songs and they were so good. I reached out to the writers and we got to talking about the idea of making it into a movie. Don't tell them I said this, but the more I get to know those guys, the more impressed I am."

"Will Arnett is a triple threat," states Horvath. "He signed on as a producer and helped us creatively when we were developing the script, giving feedback and suggesting jokes and so on. And he's also playing our villain. I think he strikes the right balance with Slade as someone you take seriously; he's menacing, but also really funny."

"Slade's ultimate goal is to dominate the entire planet via mind manipulation," Arnett explains.

Naturally, the Teens play right into Slade's hands. After all, they need an adversary, and he needs the most gullible, easily distractible, completely adorable yet seemingly dispensable supers in the universe to unwittingly do his bidding. So...win-win?

Along with the five Titans, Bell and Arnett, the filmmakers cast a roster of voice artists in cameo roles, including Nicolas Cage as Superman and Halsey as Wonder Woman.

"Casting the film was really fun," Regan recalls. "We got some amazing talent to come in even for the briefest roles, and I'm excited for the fans to see whose voices they recognize."

MAKING THE LEAP FROM JUMP CITY

Because they were taking the Teens to the big screen, the filmmakers took every opportunity to make the heroes' world as big as it could be. From Titan Tower in Jump City to a Hollywood movie studio, from Gotham City to Krypton, and even from the past to the future, "Teen Titans GO! to the Movies" goes where no Teen Titans have gone before.

Horvath illustrates, "The characters sing songs and they're funny, but when Cyborg pulls out his blasters or when Raven does her magic, it has to be even more awesome, so we created huge action set pieces for the movie to reflect that: Robin running through a crumbling building as it's exploding around him; the Titans fighting a giant robot or the Balloon Man, who's the size of a city block; aerial chases throughout Hollywood. They're life-sized action heroes now and so is their environment!"

Between epic battles, there are musical extravaganzas unlike anything the Teens have done before. "For the series, the music we can include is always like a 30- or 40-second jingle. Doing full-length songs has been really exciting," says Rida Michail. "Jarod Faber and I have been working together on music for 12 years now, so to get the opportunity to work on a feature film and produce these songs with him, Michael Jelenic and Jacob Jeffries has been incredible."

The group went all out to musically enhance the characters' journey in the film, creating such songs as "Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life," "My Superhero Movie" and "Check This Out," as well as upping the ante on the team's anthem, "GO!"

They even attracted guest artists to sing along. "Michael Bolton is an icon, he can make anything sound great," says Jelenic of the famed `80s artist who contributed to the soundtrack's `80sstyle tune. "When we had an opportunity to get him to sing a song in the movie, we jumped at it. Mixed in with the music and the laughs and inherent to the story, Regan notes, are the themes the Teen Titans represent: a message on the power of friendship, the importance of teamwork and the notion that to be a hero, you just need to be yourself. "Their journey in the movie actually solidifies their friendships," she says. "Unlike in the series, there's a point in the story where we might see the end of the team. They go through a real bonding experience, and discover why they can be proud to be the Teen Titans, which is something that we haven't explored before."

Register, who's been involved in every non-comic book incarnation of the Teen Titans, says he couldn't be more excited to show the film to moviegoers. "When I sat down and watched the first TV series with Marv Wolfman and George Perez, it was just an amazing experience to give back to those creators. To have seen it from that moment through the current series and now a full-length feature, makes me feel like a proud father," he grins.

Horvath adds, "We're all so proud of the movie and everybody who was involved in it. From the cast to the story department to the animators, everyone did an amazing job. Loyal fans of the series are going to come because they know it's gonna be funny, but I also think the movie stands on its own. There are jokes for kids and for adults. It's full of the distinctly Teen Titans-style humor and fun and craziness that's like nothing else, and I hope we're going to generate a whole new fan base for our heroes."

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