Maya is a toque macaque whose world is changed when her son Kip becomes part of her extended family. Maya’s family has its share of diverse personalities and she wishes her son to have the best advantages for advancing within the family's social strata. When their home is overrun by a neighboring tribe of monkeys, the family has to find a new home. Maya uses her inherent smarts to lead the family to new resources, but it develops that the entire group will have to cooperate in order to reclaim their original home, where Maya wishes to advance her son's future within the family.
Monkey Kingdom's major toque macaque characters consist of lead female Maya, her newborn son Kip, the troupe's alpha male Raja, a trio of high status females called The Sisterhood, and Kumar, a newcomer wishing entrance to the monkey tribe.
The film is narrated by Tina Fey.
Monkey Kingdom is the eighth film by Disneynature, the independent film label of Walt Disney Studios. It was released in the United States on April 17 and internationally on April 23 to coincide with Earth Day. A portion of box office receipts was donated to Conservation International.
The film is directed and produced by Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill, who previously co-directed Disneynature's first release, Earth (2007), as well as Chimpanzee (2012). Fothergill also co-directed African Cats (2011) and Bears (2014). Dr. Wolfgang Dittus was the scientific consultant and has been studying the macaque monkeys of Sri Lanka for nearly 50 years. His and Jane Goodall’s study at Gombe are the longest running studies of wild primates. For the film, Dittus helped select the monkey characters and decipher their behaviour. The film was scored by British composer Harry Gregson-Williams, and was shot using Sony F65 cameras.
Monkey Kingdom was released on April 17, 2015. The first official trailer for the film was released on April 18, 2014, featuring the song "Team" by Lorde and attached theatrically with Bears.
Monkey Kingdom was released on Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack on September 15, 2015.
In North America, it opened simultaneously with Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 and Unfriended on April 17, 2015, across 2,012 theaters, which is the widest release for a Disneynature film, earning $1.5 million. Through its opening weekend it earned $4.58 million, coming at eighth place at the box office, which is the lowest debut for a Disneynature film behind 2014's Bears ($4.78 million).
The movie begun its international rollout on April 17 in Ecuador, the same day as the US release. The movie debuted in 6th place, earning $17,573 from 18 screens. The movie dropped in its second week to 10th place, dropping -35% and earning $11,382. In its third week, the movie rose to fifth place but dropped -77% to finish with $2,644 from 13 screens. As of June 22, 2015, the film grossed $16,272,000.
Monkey Kingdom received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 94%, based on 52 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The site's consensus reads, "Monkey Kingdom's breathtaking footage of primates in the wild is likely to please animal lovers of all ages." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 72 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave Monkey Kingdom an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.