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The Pearl of Animation

There’s a lengthy article over at Animation World Network about a presentation at this year’s Annecy Festival by Pearl Studios from China. Formerly known as Oriental Dreamworks (they helped to finish the animation on Kung Fu Panda 3), the newly-christened Pearl Studios have struck out on their own with several animated feature films in production — and some of them of note to Furry Fans. First up is Abominable (formerly Everest), a co-production with Dreamworks that’s directed by Jill Culton. According to Pearl, “Abominable stars Everest, a 2,000-pound yeti who is curious and playful.” And who communicates without words, it seems. (Yes, it does sound like a more serious version of Warner Bros’ upcoming yeti film Smallfoot.) Also on board is director Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle) who is hard at work on an animated feature about the legendary Monkey King — a subject that he’s visited before in live action fantasy films. And further back in the pipeline are films like Tiger Empress (“… the story of a young tigress who grows from the obedient daughter of a Tiger Mom into a transformational leader when a prophecy convinces her that she’s the only one who can save their kingdom”) and Illumikitty (“… an irreverent comedy about the ultimate cat-astrophe: A feline plot for world domination”). You heard it here first.

image c. 2018 by Mochi

Teddies Follow the Clues

Well look what showed up in our news-feed… Animation magazine talking about a new series for young viewers. “Upcoming Netflix Original animated series Treehouse Detectives is ready to introduce itself to worldwide viewers this year. The preschool series will debut June 8 in over 190 countries/territories… Treehouse Detectives is created by Seoul-based animation studio Enpop and co-produced with Saban Brands… Aimed at children ages 3-6, the series follows brother and sister detective team Toby and Teri as they ‘use the clues’ and ‘follow the facts’ to solve everything from backyard mysteries to the bigger puzzles of the natural world.” Looks like another season is already in the works, too.

image c. 2018 Enpop

And More Dragons in Your Future

Meanwhile we got this from Moviefone.com: Turns out that we now have details about a new Disney animated film, Dragon Empire, scheduled for release in 2020 (they think). “Paul Briggs — head of story on Big Hero 6 and Frozen — will make his directorial debut… alongside Tangled animator Dean Wellins [as co-director]. Cars and Cars 3 writer Kiel Murray is said to be developing the script, with Moana producer Osnat Shurer back to produce.” Not a lot of details on the plot yet, but we know it involves dragons, a plucky female lead named Jan-Nin, and a male character named Bolin who is “said to be comic relief and a 900-year-old mentor to Jan-Nin.” The article also points out that Dreamworks is busy getting ready for the release of How To Train Your Dragon III in 2019, and we’ve already talked about Wish Dragon, Sony Picture’s dragon fantasy which is also slated for 2019. Looks like there are a lot of dragons flying our way!

image c. 2018 Walt Disney Animation

Wish for a Dragon

We found this article over at Variety: “Production is now under way on Wish Dragon, a major animated feature being made in China for Sony’s Columbia Pictures Film Production. The film is a first feature for Base Animation, the new animation studio that is part of Beijing-based VFX firm BaseFX, and for Chinese super star Jackie Chan. Chan’s Sparkle Roll Media is a producer and co-investor, and Chan will voice characters in both the Chinese- and English-language versions of the finished picture. The family-oriented film is being directed by Chris Appelhans (illustrator on Coraline) from his own original screenplay. The modern-day fairy tale picks up the moral challenges that emerge from the encounter between a boy and a dragon who is able to make wishes come true… The U.S. voice cast includes Fresh off the Boat star Constance Wu, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jimmy Wong, and Bobby Lee, alongside Chan.” Base Animation is hoping to have the film ready for release in 2019.

image c. 2018 Base Animation

Paramount Has A New Monster

Over at The Wrap they’re talking about three new animated features that Paramount Pictures have announced for their upcoming film line-up. One in particular should be of note to furry fans — especially since we’ve talked about the source material before. Monster on the Hill is a film adaptation of the graphic novel by Rob Harrell. Paramount’s description goes like this: “In a world where monsters are tame and monster wrestling is a popular sport, teenage Winnie seeks to follow in her father’s footsteps as a manager by turning an inexperienced monster into a contender.” That’s a little bit different than the original storyline, so we’ll see how it goes. This we got from Cartoon Brew: “Monster on the Hill will be helmed by Bradley Raymond, a veteran director of direct-to-video Disney fare (The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, The Lion King 1-1/2, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue) from a screenplay by Matt Lieberman (upcoming The Addams Family, Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief) and Etan Cohen (Men in Black 3, Tropic Thunder, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa). Monster on the Hill will be produced by ReelFX (Free Birds), which first announced it was developing the project back in 2015, and Walden Media.” Look for it in 2020.

image c. 2018 Top Shelf Productions

Stop That Snake

Here’s a new animated feature in the works we found out about through Animation World Network. “Timeless Films will begin selling worldwide rights to Rodrigo Pérez Castro’s upcoming animated feature Koati, created and produced by Anabella Sosa Dovarganes from Upstairs Productions and Los Hijos de Jack Productions, at the upcoming Cannes International Film Festival. Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy award-nominee Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), is attached to star and will executive produce… Koati is an animated comedy film starring three unlikely heroes: A free-spirited coati, a fearless monarch butterfly, and a hyperactive glass frog who embark on a glorious adventure to stop a wicked coral snake (Vergara) from destroying their homeland and friends. ‘Koati is an invitation to celebrate, for the first time in an animated film, the magical realism of the Latin American jungles, of the Amazonian rainforest, and the fun, exotic creatures that call it home,’ says Vergara, whose voice is heard in The Smurfs and Happy Feet 2. ‘It’s a coming-of-age comedy starring a cool and real family of animals the world needs to meet.'” The article tells us to look for it in 2019.

image c. 2018 Timeless Films

New Furry TV from Dreamworks

According to an article at Animation Scoop, we (or at least Amazon Prime Video subscribers) have not one but two new TV series from Dreamworks Animation to look forward to. First off are the brand new 2D adventures of none other than Rocky and Bullwinkle, set to premier this May. “The world-famous talking moose and flying squirrel are back in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, a serialized comedy about two goofball best friends who routinely find themselves thrust into harrowing situations but end up saving the day time and again… The series is executive produced by Scott Fellows (The Fairly OddParents, Big Time Rush) and Tiffany Ward, daughter of the original series producer Jay Ward, and features Tara Strong (The Powerpuff Girls, Teen Titans Go!) as the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel, Brad Norman (America’s Most Haunted) as Bullwinkle J. Moose, Ben Diskin (Hey Arnold!) as Boris Badenov, Rachel Butera (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as Natasha Fatale, Piotr Michael (Impress Me, MADtv) as Fearless Leader, and Daran Norris (The Fairly OddParents) as the Narrator.” Then, there’s a brand new TV series based on the Kung Fu Panda movies. “Later in 2018, Prime Video will premiere Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny, an epic adventure series from Emmy Award-winning executive producers Mitch Watson and Elliott Owen (All Hail King Julien), and Lane Lueras (The Adventures of Puss in Boots). When four panda kids stumble upon a mystical cave beneath Panda Village, accidentally absorbing the chi of ancient and powerful kung fu warriors known as the Four Constellations, they must realize a destiny to save the world from an evil force. Meanwhile, Po finds himself faced with his biggest challenge yet — teaching this ragtag band of kids how to wield their newfound powers.” Much to keep your eyes out for! No previews for Paws of Destiny yet, but the article has a preview video of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

image c. 2018 Dreamworks

Animals of the World — but not North America

You know, it’s getting to be an old saw that the rest of the world gets to see some very cool animation — and much of it furry! — that we never get distributed over here. Oh well, here’s hoping that opportunities arise! Next on the list? The Tales of Tatonka, an animated series for kids that was created by Cyber Group Studios. According to Animation World Network, “The Tales of Tatonka tells the adventurous stories of four wolf cubs who grow together as a family living with nature. Their friend Tatonka, the bison, helps the young wolves explore their wilderness home along with friends Cinksi the lynx, Poum the bear, Wahi the squirrel and Wambli the eagle. Written by Pierre Sissmann and directed by Olivier Lelardoux, The Tales of Tatonka has received multiple awards across the world including a Golden Panda nomination in China and Karusel TV’s Best Kids’ Series in Russia. The series combines an 11-minute animated adventure with a live action segment titled ‘The World of Tatonka,’ depicting animal life in the wild.” So if you’re in China or Russia, look it up!

image c. 2018 Cyber Group Studios

They Get It Over There…

We stumbled across an interesting article about a new series of animated shorts coming to TV in South Africa. “NickToons in association with local animation studio, Sunrise Productions have proudly developed it’s first South African animation for the channel. Munki and Trunk is a dialogue-free 3D animated TV series for kids aged 4 to 7. Munki is a vine-swinging force of nature, hungry for bananas and adventure. Trunk is a big-hearted elephant who loves to nurture and play. These unlikely best friends explore their world together, facing fears and helping friends along the way. It’s the most fun you can have in the jungle.” The show is produced by Tim Keller, and it premiers this month. No word at all if anyone plans to distribute it to other parts of the world, unfortunately.

image c. 2018 Sunrise Productions