Once again Cartoon Brew provides: This time they have the first teaser trailer for the upcoming Angry Birds Movie, set to hit theaters in May 2016. Based of course on Rovio’s mega-hit downloadable game, the film boasts an impressive voice cast: Among them Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, and Peter Dinklage. “Industry veterans Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly, both first-time directors, are helming the project, and Jon Vitti (The Simpsons, The Office, The Larry Sanders Show) wrote the screenplay.” With animation by Sony Imageworks, of course.
From out of nowhere… Well, actually, from Mexico. Un Gallo con Mucho Huevos (A Rooster with Many Eggs) is the first animated feature film produced in Mexico to receive wide distribution in the U.S. This Labor Day weekend in was released in nearly 400 theaters in Spanish with English subtitles, though a version dubbed in English is due to arrive in a couple of weeks. Cartoon Brew has some extensive coverage of it. The story is pretty familiar: A young rooster lives on a farm (with anthropomorphic chickens and anthropomorphic eggs; go figure) which is hurting financially, and he must figure out a way to save it. Admittedly his solution, which smacks of real-life cock-fighting, might make some folks a bit uncomfortable — we’ll see. Distributor Huevocartoon (they have this thing for eggs…) have firmly set their sites on the U.S. animation market.
Now it seems that Amazon has gotten on the bandwagon of downloadable original programming for kids. Premiering earlier this month was their latest series called Wishenpoof, about a little girl with the power to make her wishes come true. From Marketwatch.com: “Created by Angela C. Santomero (Blue’s Clues, Creative Galaxy, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Super Why!), and produced by Out of the Blue Enterprises, Wishenpoof is an animated preschool series that revolves around Bianca (Addison Holley, Annedroids, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) as she solves life’s problems in her own creative ways because with magic, or without, we all have the power to make good choices.” Bianca’s constant companion throughout her adventures is a plushie known as Bob the Bear. Wishenpoof is available as a free download to subscribers of Amazon Prime.
And once again Disney Junior keeps marching forward with Goldie & Bear, a new CGI series that is coming as a downloadable app in September and then a TV series later in the year. According to the article in Variety: “Each episode of the new program, which will debut on Disney Junior in November, includes two 11-minute stories that show Goldie and Bear — reunited after an infamous ‘porridge incident’ — in the midst of escapades with their neighbors in Fairy Tale Forest, all of whom have roots in familiar storybook figures. The protagonists might help Jack and Jill get up a hill or ask the Big Bad Wolf to consider others’ feelings before blowing down the houses of those who reside within.” The article also features interviews with Disney Junior folks and a preview video.
The Walt Disney Company found great success with their Palace Pets app — a down-loadable spin-off of the endlessly-profitable Disney Princess line, this time for younger kids. The idea is that each of the famous Disney Princesses has a cute funny animal pet, and they (the pets that is) often meet up and go on adventures together. Well the success of that app lead Disney to now create Whisker Haven Tales, a series of cartoon shorts airing on Disney Junior. Check out the Disney Wiki article to learn more about it, or take a look on YouTube for one of several official uploads from Disney Junior.
And another article from Variety. The big news in animation this year has been China: Not only working on farmed-out animation for American productions, but actually hiring American talent to work on home-grown Chinese productions intended for international release (hello, Rock Dog!). China is having its biggest year ever for domestic animation. The film Monkey King: Hero Is Back (yet another adaptation of Journey to the West) has set box-office records for an animated film in China. In the midst of all this the Chinese animation house called Original Force have announced they’re opening an office in Hollywood with the intention of working with American talent to create new films. Cool thing is: Several of them are furry. “Original Force is currently in production on Duck Duck Goose, the story of an unlikely family, directed by Christopher Jenkins, who recently produced DreamWorks Animation’s Home, from a screenplay by Jenkins and Rob Muir. Voice talent includes Zendaya, Greg Proops, and Lance Lim. OldZilla and QQ Speed are in the early stages of production. OldZilla follows King Saurus as he starts to deal with his advancing age and urges his elder monsters to go on one last rampage. Bob Bendetson (The Simpsons) is directing, and co-wrote the script with Art Everett. QQ Speed is based on a popular online game and is a co-production with Tencent Holding, which is behind the game. The action-adventure follows a brother-and-sister racing team and their car equipped with a voice that sounds like their late father’s. John Eng (Rugrats Go Wild) is developing the project and will direct.”
According to Cartoon Brew, Lionsgate Features is set to release their next animated feature, Norm of the North, on January 15th, 2016 — which would put it in direct competition with the planned release of The Nut Job 2. Lionsgate, of course, is best known in animation circles for the Alpha & Omega films as well as (shiver!) the infamous Food Fight! movie. This time around they present the story of Norm, a polar bear who travels to New York City to try and save his arctic home from development… but winds up distracted by the glamour and glitz all around him. (Sort of “The Bear Who Fell To Earth”.) Directed by Trevor Wall, Norm of the North stars the voice of Rob Schneider (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo). The article at Cartoon Brew includes the first trailer.
The world of Virtual Reality entertainment keeps moving ahead. (By leaps and bounds, or by steps and stumbles? Depends on who you talk to.) Recently Cartoon Brew put up an article about Henry, “an Immersive Virtual Reality short”. “On the surface, Oculus Story Studio’s new 12-minute short film Henry is a sweet story about a lovable hedgehog who just want to make friends, but can’t stop spiking whatever he hugs. ” But actually, it’s one of the first animated films ever created for the environment of the Oculus Rift head-set. Once “inside”, viewers can either watch Henry’s story — as he attempts to hug flying balloon-puppies with disastrous results — or explore the levels and rooms of Henry’s tiny home. Or both. There’s a non-Oculus “making-of” video that explains it more.
When anthropomorphic characters aren’t the star of the show, the most common place to find them is as a human character’s sidekick. Such is the case with two more pre-school animated TV series on their way to Netflix in the near future. First up there’s Kazoops (from Cheeky Little studio) in 2016, which “…follows the inquisitive young boy Monty and his best friend, a pig named Jimmy Jones, as they seek answers to the questions children routinely ask about everyday life.” There’s a teaser trailer over at Cartoon Brew. Then in 2017 look for True & the Rainbow Kingdom from Guru Studio: It stars a young girl who “…with the help of her best friend Bartleby the cat navigates the magical Rainbow Kingdom using her creativity and ingenuity in search of harmony and love for all.”