Thanks to a recent YouTube post about upcoming animated films, we learned of a new feature in production called The Ark and the Aardvark. Here’s the ad blurb: “The story follows an outcast aardvark by the name of Gilbert [voiced by Miles Teller], who becomes the reluctant leader of a ragtag group of misfit animals that need to be led to the mighty ark before the impending flood. Along their journey, they band together to conquer unforeseen obstacles, and ultimately, Gilbert discovers within himself the inner strength and ingenuity to prove that in a world of ‘twos’, he was truly destined to be The One.” Currently in production at Unified Pictures, the film is being directed by John Stevenson — co-director of the original Kung Fu Panda. No word yet on a precise release date (or who is going to distribute it), but it’s supposed to come out this year.
image c. 2017 Unified Pictures
Mengyao Zhang has been working mostly as a layout artist and lighting specialist while he completes his studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Most recently he and his team have been hard at work on his thesis film, Philip — and now they have a Kickstarter campaign up and running to get the film completed. “It tells a dystopian story about Philip who’s trying to free himself from the rules in his world. The story of this film is based on the black and white film Metropolis from 1927. The aesthetic of the film is influenced by German Expressionism and tells a story which is dark in appearance but warm in the heart.” Oh, did we mention that Philip and his world are all cat people?
image c. 2017 by Mengyao Zhang
Paul Schoeni is an artist, illustrator, and animation designer who has spent much of his career working for Dreamworks Animation. According to his web site, the films he’s worked on have included Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs Aliens, Megamind, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Shrek Forever After, The Croods, Turbo, Trolls, and The Boss Baby. He works in 2D and 3D on computers, but he also has a passion for working with good-old pencil and paper. Not to mention that he has a very distinctive art style! At his Shop you’ll find his sketch book called Monsters and Mayhem for sale, plus many examples of his other works.
image c. 2016 by Paul Schoeni
Our friends over at Cartoon Brew are finishing up the year with an article about 60 (!) animated films scheduled for release in 2017. Some are brand new releases, and some have already made the rounds in other parts of the world but will not be premiering in North America ’till next year. And of course, with a huge set of films like that, more than a fair share of them are definitely going to have some interest for the anthropomorphic fans out there! Taking a quick look ourselves, the upcoming animated films of furry note — some a lot, some a little — include (deep breath…): Animal Crackers, Beast of Burden, Blazing Samurai, Bunyan & Babe, Cars 3, Clara, Despicable Me 3, The Emoji Movie, Ferdinand, Foodiverse, Godzilla (yes, the first animated Godzilla movie!), Here Comes The Grump, Kikoriki — Deja Vu, Kung Food, Lino, Manou the Swift, Mune — Guardian of the Moon, My Cool Dad, My Little Pony — The Movie, The Nut Job 2, Ping Pong Rabbit, Pokemon The Movie — I Choose You, Punyakoti, The Red Turtle, Richard the Stork, Rock Dog, Sahara, Smurfs — The Lost Village, Spark, The Star, Urfin Jus and His Wooden Soldiers, and Underdog. Whew! The article at Cartoon Brew includes several trailers. Of course we’ll be talking a lot more about each of these films as they get closer to release. Happy New Year!
image c. 2016 Studio Canal
Like many other fans, we were disappointed to recently be informed that Dreamworks Animation has pushed back the release date of How To Train Your Dragon 3 again — this time to the spring of 2019. But in the meantime came some good news: Early next year Dark Horse Press is releasing a new full-color graphic novel, How To Train Your Dragon — The Serpent’s Heir. “Picking up just after the events in How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup, Astrid, and company are called upon to assist the people of an earthquake-plagued island. But their lives are imperiled by a madman and an incredible new dragon who even Toothless—the alpha dragon—may not be able to control!” The big news is that Dean Deblois, who has worked on the Dragons movie series as both writer and director, is one of the co-scripters of this new graphic novel (along with Richard Hamilton). Hollywood Reporter has an interview with the creative team.
image c. 2016 Dark Horse Press
Just look at what he gave up… Word has come down thanks to Animation World Network (and other sources) that Fox Studio has given the green light to a new live action / CGI hybrid production of Puff The Magic Dragon. Based on the 1962 song made famous by Peter, Paul, and Mary, “It tells the story of the ageless dragon named Puff who lives by the sea in the fictional land of Honalee. His playmate, a little boy named Jackie Paper, grows up and loses interest in the adventures of childhood and eventually leaves his imaginary dragon behind.” The new film project is set to be directed by Mike Mitchell, who recently directed the hit musical fantasy film Trolls for Dreamworks.
image c. 2016 Cherry Lane Music
We can kind of see how the pitch for this series probably went… “Okay, kids love dinosaurs, and kids love superheroes. How about… a show that has both??” That’s the basic idea behind Supersaurus 7, a new CGI animated series from Misery Bear creator Chris Hayward (helped along by designer and illustrator Henry Coate). According to Animation World Network, the show is “…set on a reimagined planet Earth, on the prehistoric sprawling continent of Pangea, long before human existence. Supersaurus 7 follows the comedic adventures of a group of young dinosaurs who chance upon a mysterious blue lava flowing from the very core of the Earth, whose energy transforms them into superhero dinosaurs. Each is armed with a super power that amplifies their dinosaur traits, and when they work together they can be an indomitable force, that is if they can learn to use their new powers correctly! Fending off rampaging T-Rex’s, rescuing distressed dinos from erupting volcanoes, and zapping incoming asteroids, these hot-headed, heroic and technologically advanced young dinosaurs strive to save the day. They also have to confront the rise of a new threat, the mammals, led by a despotic Gerbil with short rodent syndrome.” Like many of the shows we’ve discussed, it’s looking for distribution now.
image c. 2016 Technicolor
And on to Italy for Pio Rocks, a new show inspired by a popular YouTube series called Pulchino Pio. According to the review from Animation Magazine, “Pio Rocks! – The Series revolves around Pio’s life at school at Highnote High, a school like any other, except every class is about music! With plenty of challenges, betrayals, friendships forged forever and ex-friends you swear you’ll never speak to again… Pio Rocks! is a comedy about friendship, growing up, achieving goals and acceptance. Being a kid, in other words.” Produced by Planeta Junior, the series is set to hit the air in Europe this January.
image c. 2016 Planeta Junior
Now back to France for Paprika, an animated series about a rambunctious pair of cats. “Olivia and Stan are about as close as a brother and sister can get because…they’re twins! They share pretty much everything and though they’re totally different, they balance out to perfection! Stan is a brave little daredevil who puts faith in his instinct and his motorized wheelchair. Olivia is creative, efficient and brainy. But when it comes to having a ton of fun they’re both world champions!” Paprika is unusual among TV shows for kids in that it features a lead character who is wheelchair-bound. Currently the show has been airing around the Mediterranean, but Xilam Animation is looking to break it out internationally.
image c. 2016 Xilam Animation