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Duck, Duck… Duck

Now we’re getting word on Illumination’s next animated feature project. We got this from Deadline: Migration is billed as a modern-day comedy following a family of ducks who convince their overprotective father to go on the vacation of a lifetime as they attempt to migrate from New England, through New York City, and ultimately down to the Bahamas. Oscar nominee Benjamin Renner (Ernest et Célestine) is directing the pic from an original screenplay by Mike White (School of Rock, The White Lotus).” They migrate this way in December of 2023.

image c. 2022 Illumination

And He Sings, Too

You may have heard about the upcoming movie adaptation of Bernard Waber‘s bestselling and beloved book Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile. Well now Sony Pictures has dropped the first teaser trailer for the film, directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck (both of whom recently worked on Hit Monkey). Turns out that star Javier Bardem does not voice Lyle, the crocodile from New York — that honor goes to singer Shawn Mendes. Bardem instead plays the impresario who is trying to make Lyle into a star — if the big reptile can avoid New York Animal Control, that is. Lyle, Lyle comes to theaters this October.

image c. 2022 Sony Pictures

One Little Ape with a Big Responsibility

Recently at the Annecy animation festival, GCI Film gave a first glimpse of their new feature film Ozi: Voice of the Forest, directed by Tim Harper. “The independently financed feature follows the journey of a teenage orangutan, Ozi, and her friends, who set out on a voyage of discovery across the rainforest in a quest to find her parents in a land that has fallen victim to deforestation. Supported by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions, and Academy Award-winning producer, Mike Medavoy, the feature brings to light critical issues as the world’s rainforests face ever-growing levels of deforestation and its impact on the ecosystems within. The voice cast includes Amandla Stenberg as Ozi, Laura Dern, RuPaul, Donald Sutherland, and Djimon Hounsou. Harper helms the project alongside creators Keith Chapman (Paw Patrol, Bob the Builder) and Rodrigo Blaas (Pixar’s Wall-E, Finding Nemo). Emmy Award-winning Ricky Roxburgh (Tangled, Spy Kids) wrote the original screenplay.” The film is currently in production. Stay tooned.

image c. 2022 GCI Film

More Equal Than The Others?

Over the years there have been many adaptations of satirist George Orwell’s famous work Animal Farm, both on stage and on screen. Most often, each of them have deviated in some way from the author’s original story, an allegory for the Russian Revolution and the subsequent rise of centralized power under Joseph Stalin. Now we’ve been informed by Animation World Network that Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle) and his company The Imaginarium have joined up with Aniventure (Riverdance) to create a new CGI version of the story that Mr. Serkis will direct. It’s currently in production at Cinesite. No word on a release date — yet!

image c. 2022 The Imaginarium

Blazing A New Trail…?

If you’ve been following In-Fur-Nation for a while, you must have heard of Blazing Samurai… We’ve been following the animated film in development for nearly a decade now! At one point production ceased because the animation house that was making it actually went out of business! In fact, the convoluted history of this film’s creation would make for an interesting movie all its own. But now, it seems like things have changed: We have a trailer, we have a release date… and we have a complete change of title. Say hello to Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank. Still directed by Rob Minkoff (The Lion King), but now being released this July through Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Animation.

image c. 2022 Nickelodeon Animation

It May Require Super-Genius

Warner Brothers can often be relied upon for strange combination ideas with the properties. So check this out: “From Suicide Squad to Looney Tune Land, John Cena continues to expand his working relationship with Warner Bros., inking a deal to star in Coyote vs. Acme — a new live-action / CG animation hybrid feature that follows the misadventures of classic cartoon character Wile E. Coyote. Based on Ian Frazier’s 1990 humor article “Coyote v. Acme,” the movie is scripted by Samy Burch, and will be directed by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows helmer Dave Green. Mixing courtroom procedural and zany comedic elements, the story is centered on a down-and-out billboard lawyer who decides to represent Wile. E. Coyote in his lawsuit against ACME Corporation over its defective products. Cena will play the lawyer’s former boss, who defends ACME in the case. The film is set to go before cameras in New Mexico in late March.” What’s more, the film is set to be produced by the ever-busy James Gunn. No word on a release date yet, but we’ll be watching.

image c. 2022 Warner Brothers

More Chickens, More Dog

There’s a new article at Animation World Network that was kind enough to let us know about the latest upcoming films from Aardman Animation — courtesy of Netflix, of course. Some highlights: “Netflix and Aardman made two major announcements today, giving us key details on the sequel to Chicken Run, and on a new Wallace & Gromit feature being made by series creator Nick Park. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is the official title of director Sam Fell’s (Flushed Away, ParaNorman) much-anticipated sequel to Chicken Run, which in 2000 became the highest-grossing stop-motion animated film of all time. The new film will hit Netflix exclusively in 2023. Ginger and Rocky, the first film’s plucky protagonists, will be voiced by Thandie Newton and Zachary Levi, respectively… In this chapter of the characters’ saga, Ginger and Rocky have built a peaceful island sanctuary for their flock after escaping the clutches of Tweedy’s farm, and they’ve hatched a little girl named Molly. But back in the human world, their fellow chickens are faced with a new existential threat — forcing the feathered heroes to sacrifice their freedom to bring them to safety.” And there’s more: “Park’s forthcoming film does not yet have a title… In this new installment of the iconic series, ‘Gromit’s concern that Wallace has become over-dependent on his inventions proves justified, when Wallace invents a ‘smart gnome’ that seems to develop a mind of its own. As events spiral out of control, it falls to Gromit to put aside his qualms and battle sinister forces… or Wallace may never be able to invent again!'” We look forward to both!

image c. 2022 Aardman Animation

Annie Award Nominations for 2021

ASIFA-Hollywood just announced the nominations for the 2021 Annie Awards — known far and wide as “the Oscars of animation”. As has increasingly been the case the last few years, more and more anthropomorphic stuff has made its way to the top of the animation list! And 2021 was no exception. No less than three anthro films are up for Best Animated Feature, including Raya and the Last Dragon, Luca, and the recently released Sing 2. In fact Raya is one of the most honored films of the year, with nominations in Character Animation, Character Design, Effects Animation, Voice Acting, Music, Production Design, Storyboarding, Writing, and Editing also (whew!). Luca is not far behind, with nominations in Character Animation, Character Design, Music, Voice Acting, Writing, Editing, and Directing. Vivo has five nominations in various categories, while Wish Dragon and Spirit Untamed have one each (for Character Animation and Storyboarding, respectively). Over in the TV and Streaming categories, it’s more of a mixed bag. Best TV Show For Preschool includes Odo, Stillwater, and Muppet Babies (which is also up for Writing). Amphibia is up for Best TV Show For Children (as well as for Directing and Editing), while Tuca and Bertie is nominated for Best General Audience TV Show (and also for Writing). Arlo the Alligator Boy scored noms for Production Design, Voice Acting, and Editing, and Centaur World has one nomination for Voice Acting. In Sponsored Production (the new way of saying Best Commercial) there’s Featherweight (the music video by Fleet Foxes) and Tiptoe and the Flying Machine (from Macy’s). Finally, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is nominated for Best Video Game. Visit the Annie Awards web site to see the full list of nominees — and don’t forget, nominations for the 2022 Ursa Major Awards will open soon! [We wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Solstice, and a Blessed Holiday Season.]

image c. 2021 Walt Disney Animation

Pinnipeds of Power

And then, Out Of Nowhere part two. Recently we came across Seal Team, a new CGI animated film coming to Netflix soon. From IMDB.com: “After his best friend is killed in a shark attack, Quinn, a lovable yet tenacious seal assembles a SEAL TEAM to fight back against a gang of sharks overtaking the neighborhood. But this merry band of international seals are not at all trained for such a mission. They seek the help of a much more skillful combatant, Claggart, but even his tricks and flips can’t whip these guys into shape. However, with a little bit of ingenuity, intelligence and a lot of heart, our seal team may actually be able to bring peace back to their undersea community.” Turns out this is the latest animation from Triggerfish in South Africa (whom we have covered quite a bit in the past!), now working in a very different style reminiscent of Spiderman — Into The Spiderverse. Look at the trailer, you’ll see what we mean.

image c. 2021 Netflix