The Hollywood Reporter recently ran an article about Triggerfish — the animation studio which some refer to as the Pixar of South Africa. Following the international success of Zambezia (about a city of birds) and Khumba (about a young zebra missing half of his stripes), Triggerfish have secured funding which will allow them to begin work on two new films out of a planned slate of five. The company’s stated goal is to release one film a year starting in 2016. First out of the gate is Here Be Monsters, about a young human boy who interacts with a scary sea monster. It’s written by Raffaella Delle Donne, who worked on both the studio’s previous films. Soon after that comes Seal Team, described as “an action-comedy that pits a group of seals against the great white sharks of South Africa.” Khumba is currently screening in Africa, with plans to roll it out to the rest of the world going into 2014.
Dreamworks Animation have created a special tie-in compilation book called Dreamworks Heroes Annual 2014. In spite of that title, it’s already available in hardcover from Pedigree Books. “DreamWorks Animation has created some of the best loved animated feature films and TV shows of all time. They have released a total of 26 feature films, including Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon, grossing nearly $11 billion worldwide. This Annual brings all your favorite DreamWorks characters together for the first time in this unique DreamWorks Heroes Annual 2014.” Check it out at Amazon. The advertisements are kind of hard to follow: Apparently this publication is also available as Dreamworks All-Stars Annual 2014, with a different cover.
Dreamworks Animation released the first set of stills from their upcoming feature film Mr. Peabody & Sherman in a recent article in USA Today. Cartoon Brew reprinted the images as well. The film (about a time-traveling dog and his young human assistant) is of course based on the original series of short cartoons that was part of The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show. This new CGI version is directed by Rob Minkoff (he of The Lion King and the Stuart Little movies), and it’s set for release in March of 2014. There had been rumors going around for some time that the Mr. Peabody movie was going to be done live action, with a real kid playing Sherman and Mr. Peabody being a CGI-enhanced real dog. That idea did not go over very well with classic animation fans, but fortunately it turns out that Dreamworks is making it much more traditionally — just with a computer.
Seth MacFarlane and Universal Pictures have announced that the sequel to the wildly popular 2o12 movie Ted will be released to theaters on June 26th, 2015. It’s simply called Ted 2. Once again Seth MacFarlane will direct and star as the voice of Ted, the foul-mouthed talking teddy bear, and Mark Wahlberg will reprise his role as Ted’s grown-up childhood human friend. That’s about all we know about it so far — other than the fact that the sequel will also be R-Rated! The original Ted, of course, was nominated for an Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Feature.
Turns out that the original Alpha and Omega (from 2010) was successful enough to “spawn” a sequel — at least a 44-minute direct-to-video sequel, Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure. According to Cartoon Brew (never very kind to standard Hollywood fare), the sequel is again directed by Richard Rich. It was animated in India. In this new film, the wolves Humphrey and Kate strive to bring their cubs — Stinky, Claudette, and Runt — a happy season at Christmas time. The preview trailer is up now on YouTube. Look for the DVD from Lionsgate, coming to your local store on October 8th.
Trailers have begun to show up in the theaters for The Nut Job, a new animated GCI feature coming out this January. It’s based on a 2005 original animated short by director Peter Lepeniotis (Disney’s Dinosaur, Fantasia 2000) called Surly Squirrel (which you can still view on YouTube). The Nut Job tells the story of Surly (now here voiced by Will Arnett) and how he gathers together a rag-tag band of rodents with the intent of knocking over a local nut store. Needless to say, things become much more complicated — as you can see in the trailer. Interestingly, this project has been brought about almost entirely by independent studios and smaller companies. The film was produced by Toonbox Entertainment, Red Rover International, and Gulfstream Pictures, and is being distributed by Open Road Films.
The pizza-loving ninja-boys are back, in a brand new game created by Red Fly Studios and published by Activision. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a down-loadable game based largely on the current hit TMNT series on Nickelodeon, as well as the original comics of course. A 4-person co-op game (convenient huh?), it also features an optional 2-player off-line mode. It was released on August 28 for Xbox Live Arcade and Steam, and it will be released on September 24 for PlayStation Network. There’s a preview video of the game currently making the rounds on YouTube. You can also check out the game’s official page on Facebook.
Still working our way through San Diego Comic Con discoveries, but now we have this BIG news from Disney’s D23 Expo to talk about. During the opening day presentation on upcoming animated movies (including Disney’s Frozen and Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur), Disney made an announcement about a new animated film called Zootopia, which is scheduled for release in 2016. Check out this summary from Slash Film: “Tangled director Byron Howard will direct the film from a script by Jared Bush. They’ve been working for the last year and a half on the project, spurred in in part by a love of the Disney Robin Hood feature. Howard wanted to do a film with animals in clothing. They hope to continue ‘Disney’s amazing legacy of animal-based animated films’… We’ve seen movies featuring animals in the natural world, and in the human world, but we’ve never seen animals in a modern world designed by animals. What would animals do differently than humans would? So the filmmakers talked to experts, from anthropologists to safari guides to imagineers as they began to design an animal civilization which is ‘distinctly animal’.” Are you excited yet? We are! Here’s the plot: “In the animal city of Zootopia, a fast-talking fox who’s trying to make it big goes on the run when he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Zootopia’s top cop, a self-righteous rabbit, is hot on his tail, but when both become targets of a conspiracy, they’re forced to team up and discover even natural enemies can become best friends.” Check out the rest at Slash Film. And see you in 2016!
Jump Start is a creative company best known for designing and developing games that help to teach young children the basics of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Since 1991 they’ve released several lines of teaching games under the banners of Jump Start and Math Blaster. More recently though, Jump Start has hitched up with Dreamworks Animation to create a new line of teaching software and on-line games based on the Madagascar series of animated movies. Yes, kids even learn from the penguins! The first release is called Madagascar Preschool Surf n Slide. Even more recently, there’s a new line of on-line games based on How to Train Your Dragon called School of Dragons. Check it all out at the Jump Start web site.
So, there’s this TV series, produced with young girls in mind, about talking ponies living in a magical land. No, it’s not that one. “The Filly animated series brings to life the charming adventures of Rose and her friends as they attend the Magic Royal Academy of Funtasia. The Wizard of the Dark Mirror, and his comical minion Battiwigs, try to steal all the magic in the kingdom. Despite their wacky attempts, the Fillys enjoy everyday school life, studying and discovering their unique, and magical, crystal powers in these coming of age stories.” That’s from the producers and distributors. According to some sources, Filly is already a bigger toy product in Europe than My Little Pony. And then there’s this, from the Animation Magazine web site: “BRB and Dracco’s upcoming new animated series Filly Funtasia has put together a top-notch writing team: Dean Stefan (The Penguins of Madagascar, The Octonauts, Jake & The Never Land Pirates), Noelle Wright (Doc McStuffins, Sofia The First), Jymn Magon (Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures), Johnny Hartmann (Monster High), and Sean Derek (The Smurfs, ZhuZhu Pets, Strawberry Shortcake, Sabrina, Hello Kitty) are busy putting together episodes for the 26 x 30″ high-def series.” No kidding. Where have we been?