Earlier this year Animation World Network ran an article about Mattel Creations’ new line-up of 2017 CGI specials and animated series, which they are presenting at MIPCOM. Besides all the expected Barbie tie-ins and Thomas the Tank Engine, there’s a new show called Enchantimals. “At first glance you may think that the Enchantimals are just a regular group of girls. But on closer inspection you’ll see that this unique band live somewhere between human and animal. The Enchantimals are at one with nature, and as keepers of their forest home, they strive to maintain balance, peace and harmony, with unwavering compassion towards all living things. Each Enchantimal gets some much needed help from their very own animal bestie. Like the best of friends, they share an unbreakable bond, as well as extraordinary animal abilities. But why does their forest home need such a special group to help look after it? Because this is no ordinary forest – it’s enchanted!” Thanks for letting us know! We’ll let you know if and when and where Enchantimals gets picked up for broadcast.
According to Beyond The Cartoon, Magic Light Pictures have announced they are adapting another popular children’s book for animation: In this case, The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. “Directed by Jeroen Jaspaert (Stick Man), the half-hour animated special follows the tale of a greedy rat who tyrannizes animals along the highway, as he steals their food at every opportunity: Clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel, a leaf from some ants… he even steals his own horse’s hay. However what he really craves are cakes and all things sugary, and it’s his sweet tooth that finally leads him to a sticky outcome.” Magic Light have become known for adapting books by Dondaldson and Scheffler, including popular favorites The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. The Highway Rat is being animated by Triggerfish in South Africa, and it’s set to premier in the UK on BBC One for Christmas in 2017.
Animation Magazine recently ran an article listing a wide range of animated films coming our way next year. Though it would be difficult to compete with 2016 in terms of anthropomorphic content (no less than 16 films of furry interest!), the article does list several new animated titles that are likely to catch some attention from furry fandom. In order of planned release, they include: Rock Dog, The Nut Job 2, Cars 3, Despicable Me 3 (yes, more Minions…), Emojimove: Express Yourself (yes, yes, yes…), My Little Pony: The Movie, The Star, and Ferdinand. They also make mention of Blazing Samurai, though there are some doubts as to when that movie might be finished, given that the main production company went bankrupt early this year. Interesting, they do not mention Animal Crackers — but we did! Elsewhere in the same issue of Animation is a note that a work print of Spark (the monkey-in-space feature from The Nut Job folks) has been making the rounds at film festivals. Needless to say, we’ll be talking about all of these as they come closer to a theater near you!
Recently the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA) announced the nominees for the Annie Awards of 2016, celebrating the best in animation in all media. Perhaps surprising no one, Zootopia topped the list with 11 nominations in 10 categories — including Best Feature Film, Best Writing, Best Directing, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Character Design, Best Voice Acting, Best Effects Animation, Best Storyboarding, and two nominations for Best Character Animation. The Annies being widely acknowledged as “the Oscars of Animation” means that Zootopia is now considered to be a front-runner for the Best Animated Feature Film at the actual Oscars — if not more categories as well. Interestingly, one thing that was a surprise was that Zootopia’s biggest competition at the Annies is not Pixar favorite Finding Dory (which was nominated in only four categories) but Laika’s most recent stop-motion film, Kubo and the Two Strings — which was also nominated in 10 categories. Other films of Furry interest that received nominations include Kung Fu Panda 3, The Red Turtle, The Secret Life of Pets, The Jungle Book, Sing, and Storks. Over in the TV category the anthro-themed nominees included Bojack Horseman, Peg + Cat, Puffin Rock, Tumble Leaf, Elena of Avalor, and long-running favorites like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Adventure Time, and Wander of Yonder. Plus many other nominees in many categories, including the avian favorite Piper for Best Short. Read all about it over at the Annie Awards site. The awards will be presented at UCLA on February 4th next year. (And don’t forget — soon it will be time to nominate the Ursa Major Awards too!)
Thanks to Animation News Network we found out about an article over at the Hollywood Reporter. It seems that Mark Osborne (director of Kung Fu Panda and the recent film The Little Prince) has been tapped to finally adapt Jeff Smith’s award-winning comic Bone for the cinema — not just as one animated movie, but an entire trilogy to be produced by Warner Brothers. “The comic told of three Bone cousins — Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, all small, bald and human-like creatures with big noses — who are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert after being run out of Boneville. One by one they find their way into a deep forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. The comics were published from 1991 to 2004 and then rediscovered by a new and more mainstream generation when Scholastic began releasing them in graphic novel form.” Adam Kline is writing the script for the first film, along with Mr. Osborne, and Animal Logic (Happy Feet) are involved as well, so expect some top-notch CGI. We’ll let you know when we find out a release date.
Invention Story is a new CGI animated series created by Trad Animation (that’s the name!) from China. Commissioned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the show is intended to spark in young people an interest in science and engineering. “This series of stories take place in a forest surrounding a town called Carrot Town, full of joyful and magic air. The main character is an intelligent, thoughtful, and creative fox, who in each episode makes a new invention. These inventions associate various fields of production in our daily life, which children see, or use everyday, everywhere. In the process of carrying out each invention, our young audience will be thinking and understanding the science, knowledge, and principle behind them, arousing their interest in creating new devises.” That’s what they say. Interestingly, the story editor behind this new series is an American: None other than Jymn Magon, creator of Disney’s Gummi Bears and TaleSpin. The series began with a pilot movie, Agent F.O.X., which is available in English. Currently episodes of Invention Story are posted on YouTube in the original Chinese. No word yet on an English version!
A lot of animation fans who weren’t around in the late 1960’s (or who weren’t watching cartoons regularly yet!) may not remember the very, very strange Depatie-Freleng series called Here Comes The Grump. Well now according to Cartoon Brew there’s going to be a new CGI version of the series and a CGI movie to kick things off — thanks to Mexico’s Anima Estudios, which previously brought us the CGI Top Cat movies a couple of years ago. As for Here Comes The Grump, “The film tells the story of teenage boy Terry who has been transported to a magical land where he and some new friends must defeat a mean-spirited wizard called The Grump.” There’s some well-known talent behind the film: “Here Comes the Grump is based on a script from Jim Hecht (Ice Age: The Meltdown) and designs by Craig Kellman (Madagascar, Sausage Party, Samurai Jack, Hotel Transylvania). It is being directed by Andres Couturier, who also helmed Anima’s 2015 feature Top Cat Begins.” No word yet on any distribution planned for North America. Besides the grumpy wizard’s rather klutzy dragon, the Grump’s world features many fantastic creatures — and some that likely will only make sense if you’ve been chemically enhanced. Maybe.
While checking out Manou the Swift we came across the trailer for another animated bird film, Richard the Stork. “Orphaned at birth and raised by storks, the teenage sparrow Richard believes he is one of them. But when the time comes to migrate to Africa, his stork family is forced to reveal his true identity and leave him behind in the forest, since he is not a migratory bird and would not survive the journey. Determined to prove he is a stork after all, Richard ventures south on his own. But only with the help of Olga, an eccentric owl with an imaginary friend and Kiki, a narcissistic, disco-singing parakeet, does he stand a chance to reach his goal and learn to accept who he really is.” It’s written and directed by Toby Genkel and Reza Memari, the same team that brought us All Creatures Big and Small (aka Ooops! Noah is Gone!) back in 2015. No word yet if Richard will be distributed in North America.
A new announcement over at Cartoon Brew: The German visual FX house Luxx Studio (known for their work on features like White House Down and Independence Day: Resurgence) have started work in earnest on their first CGI feature film, Manou the Swift. “The cg animated film, which is still a work in progress, is set for release in 2017. It tells the story of a swift who grows up thinking he is seagull but soon finds out his real calling.” The article includes a teaser trailer — which oddly does not seem to include the main character.