We’ve entered March, which means we’re still in the slump of movie releases. Onward comes out later this week, and I managed to snag a ticket to a Thursday evening showing, but if I’m going to be honest, I don’t really have high hopes for this film.
But the rest of this year looks pretty promising in terms of animated films. Sure, there’s some obvious cash-grabs and sequels, like Trolls: World Tour and Minions: The Rise of Gru, but there are also some that are a must see.
Here are the top five animated movies I’m looking forward to this year.
Previously titled The Mitchells vs. the Machines – which is obviously a much better title – this Sony Pictures movies follows the Mitchell family on their way to drop off daughter, Katie, at college.
And then the robots attack. The family then must learn to work out their differences and save the world. While the premise sounds kind of generic, this film is being produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller; and directed by Mike Rianda, the creative director for Gravity Falls.
So, I have some pretty high hopes. The trailer, released on March 3, is great (though I’m sick to death of the song “High Hopes” in trailers.)
Not much other information is available about the film, but you can bet that I’ll be there opening weekend.
Release Date: Sept. 18
Director: Mike Rianda
Producers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Kurt Albrecht
Okay, so this is technically an adaptation, but there have been so many incarnations of the Mystery gang that I’m okay with it. Especially because it seems there will be some focus on them as kids. I loved A Pup Named Scooby Doo! So I can’t wait to see what they do with this.
I love the stylized 3-D animation. All of the characters look pretty much like their counterparts but fit into the environment. The Mystery Machine looks great. The voice acting sounds amazing, even if only one of the original cast members is reprising a role.
And those Halloween costumes in the first trailer captured the characters perfectly. It already looks better than that frightening live action adaptation from the 2000s. And the list of characters appearing in the film makes me wonder if this will successfully launch a Hanna-Babera cinematic universe.
(Not like it’s needed but…still.)
Release Date: May 15
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Tony Cervone
Producers: Pam Coates, Allison Abbate
I know basically nothing about this film, but it’s been getting a lot of buzz in the animation community. Although it seems a little like it’s ripping off How to Train Your Dragon (which may also be the first time Disney has copied DreamWorks) I’m still interested…Mostly because in this case, the dragon can turn into a person.
Also it has the same producer as Moana, which is a pretty solid film in my opinion, and the screenplay is by the screenwriter of Crazy Rich Asians. And one of the directors did some property design for Avatar: The Last Airbender so I’m game.
The concept is still pretty interesting, since in this case the dragon can turn into a human.
The few bits of concept art look really neat, so I really hope the story stands up. I can’t wait to learn more about it.
Release Date: Nov. 25
Director: Paul Briggs, Dean Wellins
Producer: Osnat Shurer
This is what…the third animated Spongebob movie? It’s not very necessary. And even the plot of the film where Gary goes missing has already been done in the series proper. Only this time, they have to go to the lost City of Atlantic City to get him back.
Which makes me feel like this movie might be a good place to end the franchise.
This is also the first Spongebob movie fully in CGI. And it doesn’t look half-bad. It’s much better than the weird Sponge Out of Water models in the last film. And I mean, the films have always been pretty decent, so I’ll definitely see it.
Just likely not on opening weekend.
The movie is also getting a spin-off Kamp Koral…which goes against the wishes of creator the late and great Stephen Hillenberg. I’m not going to watch it or give it any more press. I want to respect his wishes.
And Nick, you realize other shows exist, right? You don’t have to put all your money in one pot. Disney expanded beyond Mickey, I’m sure you can expand beyond the sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea.
Release Date: May 22
Director: Tim Hill
Producer: Ryan Harris
The other Pixar movie coming out this year, will feature the studio’s first African-American protagonist, who dies right before he has the chance of a lifetimes. He is sent to the “You Seminar,” where he must learn and develop a passion before being reincarnated.
The animation and setting look amazing, but I have a small concern. Didn’t Pixar basically already do this with Coco? There’s a huge focus on death and how music can help people remember.
I suppose the themes of this movie will be different -focusing less on memory and more about making the most of life. It might also completely disprove the Pixar Theory. (But I guess it could still work.)
But, I’m looking forward to this film more than Onward because the main character seems interesting -it’s been a while since Pixar had an adult protagonist – and I’m interested in how they’ll explore this very mature and emotional topic.
I do understand that many people are hesitant, since this is a movie where a POC spends a majority of the film in a non-human form. But, I still think having a Black lead and focusing on Black music and culture, will help override that a bit -especially since Pixar is pretty good at integrating cultural aspects.
Release Date: June 19
Studio: Walt Disney-Pixar
Director: Pete Docter
Producer: Dana Murray