Took ’em a while, but Dreamworks have finally brought us more adventures with Spirit, star of the 2002 2D animated feature Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Animation Scoop has a recent article introducing us to Spirit Riding Free, a new DreamworksTV animated series coming to NetFlix on May 5th. The story and characters are considerably different from the animated feature this time around: “When city-turned-country girl Lucky meets a wild mustang named Spirit, she feels an instant connection to the untamable horse. A courageous and natural-born leader, Lucky navigates this new world with her two new best friends, Pru and Abigail by her side. The trio embark on thrilling adventures, find genuine friendship, and discover what it means to be free!” No sign of Matt Damon to be found. Anyway, visit the article to see a trailer for the series.
image c. 2017 DreamworksTV
Slipped by at first, but we found this over at Cartoon Brew: “Conrad Vernon is reuniting with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna, producer of last year’s hit Sausage Party, for another adult-oriented animation project, Amberville. The project is an adaptation of Tim Davys’ ‘Mollisan Town’ novel series set in a gritty world of stuffed animals. Amberville is being developed as a cgi series for Amazon Studios by Vernon and Chris McCoy, who wrote and directed last year’s Good Kids. McCoy wrote the pilot and Vernon will direct it. If the project makes it to series, it would be available on Amazon Prime Video. Amberville’s story revolves around a reformed Teddy Bear who is pulled back in to the criminal underworld when his former boss enlists him for an impossible new job.” Conrad Vernon, of course, is well-known as co-director of Shrek 2, Madagascar 3, and Monsters vs. Aliens.
image c. 2017 Harper Collins Publishing
Thanks to Furry. Today, we got our first look at the newly-released trailer for Ferdinand, an upcoming animated movie from Blue Sky. And thanks to an article over at Cartoon Brew, we have a whole lot more information about it too! According to the studio, “Ferdinand tells the story of a giant bull with a big heart. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure. Set in Spain, Ferdinand proves you can’t judge a bull by its cover.” It’s directed by Carlos Saldanha, who of course gave us not only Ice Age: The Meltdown but also Rio. Wrestling superstar John Cena (fresh off his turn as a voice actor in the Surf’s Up sequel) stars as the voice of Ferdinand the bull, but the Cartoon Brew article also features a huge spread of character designs and voice actors from the film. Look for it this winter.
image c. 2017 Blue Sky Studios
According to Animation Scoop, Disney Junior has a new animated series for kids called Puppy Dog Pals premiering April 14th. “The show follows two fun-loving pug brothers, Bingo and Rolly, whose thrill-seeking appetites take them on exhilarating adventures throughout their neighborhood and around the globe. Comedian Harland Williams… serves as consulting producer and writer and voices the role of Bob, the pups’ devoted owner.” There are some other well-known names among the voice cast as well.
image c. 2017 Disney Junior
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