|“||Every elf, reindeer and toy knows of your great adventure.||”|
In Search of Santa is a 2004 CGI direct-to-video feature that was a Chinese-American production between Hong Kong-based Colorland Animation and Los Angeles-based Tundra Productions, produced by William R. Kowalchuk of the latter and Louis Sak, CEO of the former. Made under a $2 million budget (12,841,000 CNY in China), it was presented by Miramax Home Entertainment, and distributed domestically by Buena Vista Home Entertainment and internationally by Paramount Home Entertainment.
When a sleigh bell mysteriously falls from the sky and hits Crystal (on the night of December 24th/25th), pure-hearted Crystal is determined to prove the bell came from one of Santa's eight flying reindeer. Together, she and Lucy sets off on a almost year-round journey to the North Pole to return the bell to Santa, which is in his city (visible only to true believers). Along the way, they must work together to outrun a leopard seal (Making a new friend, a seal named Pup, along the way), a killer whale, and a polar bear, outwit greedy pirates (Cap'n Cragg, Bubkus Bill, and Timebomb Tom aboard on their ship, the Blubber Belly), and try to keep the Terribly Deep Thinkers, the sneaky court penguins, from stealing their parents (King Calvin and Queen Penelope)'s thone.
Featuring a heartwarming story, delightful characters, and the great music of Michael Lloyd and Keith Heffner, this feature celebrates friendship, family and Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year.
The music was composed and performed by Michael Lloyd and Keith Heffman, supervised by Lloyd, with lyrics written by Lloyd and writer Michael Aschner.
- "Happy Hatchday"
- "Terribly Deep Thinkers Song"
- "Cap'n Cragg's Pirate Song"
- "Santa's Reindeer Chant" - Lyrics by Aschner, performed in drums by Lloyd and Heffman
And the instrumental version of the traditional song "Jolly Old St. Nicholas", performed in the horn and the xylophone, is heard when Santa temporary turns his red suit black with Chinese symbols.
In 1998, GoodTimes Entertainment and Tundra Productions appointed Michael Aschner to write two more animated Christmas features to follow-up that year's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie, which would become this title and the then-unknown sequel to the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (with Golden Books Family Entertainment). That same year, both direct-to-video productions got started, with the Rudolph sequel being in CGI to represent Rankin/Bass' stop-motion puppetry. The first moving concept illustrations were featured in the 1998 U.S. VHS of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie.
After the CGI production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys is completed, the animation switched from traditional 2D animation to CGI 3D animation with heavy changes, and Tundra partnered up with Colorland to co-produce. But after the 2003 DVD release of Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys, GoodTimes split up with Tundra for finishing the production, and, in January 2004 because of the successful premiere of LEGO's Bionicle: Mask of Light over the 2003 holiday season, got acquired by Bob and Harvey Weinstein's Miramax Films (which was owned by Disney at the time) for the first in their brand-new Miramax Family line.
The CGI was animated in Hong Kong, China by Colorland Animation Productions (Shenzhen) Ltd., utilizing the same Maya technology as Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys.
The voices were recorded in Los Angeles, CA and Vancouver, Canada by Tundra Productions, who with Colorland did the Rudolph features, The Good Sports Gang series (for BackHome Productions, distributed by GoodTimes) as well as two one-offs: 2002's Stellaluna (From Scholastic Entertainment, released in 2004 by MGM Television for its home entertainment division) and 2003's Ben-Hur (presented by GoodTimes).
On November 23rd, 2004, Miramax Home Entertainment, distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, premiered In Search of SANTA as the first direct-to-video feature of the brand-new Miramax Family line on VHS & DVD. The DVD featured a featurette spotlighting the voice talents of the Duffs, Hilary and Haylie.
The next month internationally, Paramount Home Entertainment distributed the feature on VHS in fullscreen and DVD in widescreen, with multiple dubs on the DVD version.
In February 2011, Echo Bridge Home Entertainment distributed this and the other 250 titles (excluding some titles like Bionicle: Mask of Light and Mattel's MyScene Goes Holywood, which were retained by Disney) through its short-lived deal from Miramax. In October 2011, they reissued the feature on DVD but with a brand new widescreen transfer. During Echo Bridge's Miramax deal, it often paired up with the 1997 English version of How the Toys Saved Christmas in many holiday DVD compliations. Meanwhile, Lionsgate released both titles on Digital in November 2013. After Echo Bridge's deal with Miramax expired in March 2014, Lionsgate redistributed this, HotTSC, and the other 249 features in Miramax's library.
In October 2014, in honor of the feature's 10th anniversary, it was released on DVD and Ultraviolet combo pack. Oddly, the case itself is the restyle of the 2004 original fullscreen version with the featurette to be intact. The disc itself is oddly the 2011 widescreen DVD from Echo Bridge, by their mistake.
- Hilary Duff as Princess Crystal
- Haylie Duff as Princess Lucinda
- Kathleen Barr as Agonysia, Mrs. Claus, Queen Penelope, Katie, Marcus, and Mimi
- Scott McNeil as Mortmottimes, Bubkus Bill and Timebomb Tom
- Garry Chalk as Derridommis and Cap'n Cragg
- French Tickner as Santa Claus
- Dale Wilson as King Calvin
- Nicole Bouma as Baby Princess Crystal, Wing Maidens #1 and #5, as well as the additional characters
- Tabitha St. Germain as Baby Princess Lucinda, as well as the additional characters
- Lee Tockar as Max Elfman, Philip, and Pup the Seal
- Jason Michas as Eugene and Gardener Elf
- Cathy Weseluck as Emma, William, Wing Maidens #4 and #6
- Richard Newman as the narrator
An unknown voice actor(s) who played The Mayor of Santa's City and the group Santa's Reindeer, as well as the Loop Group (on the penguin crowds of Royal Rookery Rock and the elf crowd of Santa's City), is uncredited.
- In Spain, it was titled as Las Princesas Pingüinas ("The Penguin Princesses"), referring to the main characters Crystal and Lucinda.
- This feature premiered 13 days after The Polar Express released into theaters. Similarly, both features have a element of a sleigh bell.
In international releases, the feature time is slightly shorter at 77 minutes version, as opposed to the original 80-minute version in the US.