If you’re like us, you still can’t help yourself from humming “Everything is Awesome” every once in a while (never mind “Let it Go”). And with movies like this year’s The Lego Movie and last winter’s Frozen, it’s hard to deny animation is back in a big way. Consider that one of the biggest superhero movies of the year is another gem from Walt Disney Animation Studios: Big Hero 6.
So, if you are starting to get the craving for more animated films that will feed your inner-child, no matter the age, then we hope this list is for you. Below is a list of everything to hope for in 2015 (and a little bit from next year that has been pushed down the line). And for the first time in forever, that sounds pretty awesome.
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (February 6, 2015)
As a love letter to pineapple inhabiting enthusiasts everywhere, Nickelodeon and Paramount Animation shall be reuniting next Valentine’s Day for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. A sequel to 2004’s The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, this one was a long time coming, as producers weren’t sure it would ever be made. Julia Pistor threw shade on the idea of another one as early as 2004, and in 2009 SpongeBob Executive Producer Paul Tibbitt said it was possible, but wondered if SpongeBob worked best in the 11-minute short form.
Yet in 2012, Philippe Dauman, president and CEO of Viacom, announced to investors that a 2014 sequel to the original film would be produced. While it has taken a little longer than that, it is now only months away, and under the sea veterans like Tom Kenny (SpongeBob), Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick Star), Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs), and Mr. Lawrence (Plankton) are all returning. Plus, Antonio Banderas has been cast as a live-action pirate. Oh yeah, it is a two-dimensional animation, CGI, and live-action hybrid. Nice.
Home (March 27, 2015)
DreamWorks has one of several tricks up its sleeve in 2015, beginning with Home, a forthcoming adaptation of Adam Rex’s children’s book, The True Meaning of Smeckday. Directed by Tim Johnson of Antz and the less-remembered Over the Hedge, Home follows the animated critter of choice these days: aliens.
While being chased by an even bigger, badder alien, Captain Smek (voiced by Steve Martin) takes his alien race of Boov to Earth, however there is the problem of the current indigenous species on the planet. Thus, Smek kindly rounds up all humans for relocation, save for a resourceful young girl named Tip (Rihanna) who teams up with a bumbling invading alien named Oh (Jim Parsons). Also including the voice of Jennifer Lopez, the vocal cast seems to be a heavy factor in this one.
Inside Out (June 19, 2015)
It feels so painful to admit that the next Pixar movie is still over half a year away. With the delay of The Good Dinosaur taking it out of the 2014 line-up, we have been left with a two-year gap between last summer’s Monsters University and Inside Out. However, for those fearing that Pixar has lost its ambition, Inside Out’s premise alone promises the most out-there Hollywood-produced animated effort in many years. Directed by one of Pixar’s original brain trust, Peter Docter (Monsters Inc., writer on Toy Story 2, Wall-E, Up), from an original story he had that has been scripted by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), Inside Out goes big by entering the smallest, most confusing place imaginable: the brain of a young girl.
When Riley is forced to move from Minnesota to San Francisco, a cornucopia of new emotions boil to the surface of her mind, effecting every single action she makes. These include the emotions of Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), and Joy (Amy Poehler). A tale that literally will take place in the battleground of a child’s mind, the next Pixar project ambitiously aims to explain from a fresh perspective why people’s emotions act the way they do. Right now, the thought of it is only bringing sounds of Poehler for us.
Minions (July 10, 2015)
After the stunning success of Despicable Me 2 at the box office, Universal and Illumination Entertainment are preparing to go into overdrive as a major player in family entertainment beginning in 2015. The first of those efforts is Minions, a spin-off about the lovably adorable sidekicks from the first two Despicable Me films (there will be more).
Directed by Pierre Coffin of the first two Despicable Me films and written by Brian Lynch who scripted the Puss in Boots spin-off, this follow-up acts more as a prequel than a sequel to the previous movies. It appears that the yellow henchmen have existed since the dawn of time, having served history’s most incorrigible baddies, before ineptly facilitating their demises, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Count Dracula. Discouraged, they have hidden in Antarctica for ages until, out of boredom and despair, they attend a villain convention in the 1960s and meet Scarlet Overdrive, an ambitious female villain seeking world domination. Minions was originally slated to come out in December 2014, but Universal was so happy with Despicable Me 2’s grosses that the distributor pushed this back for the maximum merchandising and box office potential that comes with a summer release.
Hotel Transylvania 2 (September 25, 2015)
Hotel Transylvania was the surprisingly fun 2012 animated film that featured Adam Sandler as Dracula, Kevin James as Frankenstein, and Steve Buscemi as a werewolf. Plus, it also had the voices of Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Cee Lo Gren, Jon Lovitz, and Chris Parnell. But its real creative power most likely came from director Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, and Star Wars: Clone Wars.
Thus, it was a shame when he announced he wouldn’t return, and a joy when he changed his mind and did. Greenlit shortly after its release in 2012, Sony Pictures Animation seemed eager to follow-up on its biggest hit (not counting the live-action Smurfs hybrid). Still, we would not be surprised if a delay is in the offing.
The Peanuts Movie (November 6, 2015)
As every great cartoon is getting a CGI movie these days, it is unsurprising that the arguable greatest, Peanuts, will have its own for 2015. Coming out just in time for the 65th anniversary of the original comic strip and the 50th anniversary A Charlie Brown Christmas Special, the project will mark a celebration of all things Peanuts, and is even written by Charles M. Schultz’s son and grandson, Craig Schultz and Bryan Schultz, respectively. Also set to be directed by Steve Martino of Horton Hears a Who! fame, the new Peanuts movie will be animated by Blue Sky Studios at 20th Century Fox.
The Good Dinosaur (November 25, 2015)
After its year-plus delay, 2015 will have the unusual occurrence of two Pixar movies in the same calendar year (Finding Dory was originally slated for a November 2015 release date). Based on a story idea from its still only credited director, Bob Peterson, The Good Dinosaur pivots the amusing question of “what if?” What if the asteroid had missed Earth and didn’t wipe out the dinosaurs? Set in an alternate timeline, the dinos still rule the planet when Arlo, a teenage Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) with a big heart, suffers a tragedy and looks for restoration through a quest with an unlikely ally, a human boy named Spot.
The film was originally supposed to come out on May 30, 2014, but was pushed back last September following the removal of Bob Peterson as director and Denise Ream as producer from the project. Spun as simply being too close to the film to “crack” the its third act, Peterson’s exit has made way for John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Mark Andrews, and Peter Sohn to step in and temporarily work on different sections of the film. Given Pixar’s overall track record, we are more than happy to stay optimistic about what they can do with extra time to iron out the details, but there is no denying the sadness of this delay, which resulted in the termination of 67 employees from Pixar in November 2013.
Kung Fu Panda 3 (December 23, 2015)
Kung Fu Panda 3 continues the legendary adventures of awesomeness with Po (Jack Black), a panda with a mean tornado kick and even meaner noodle slurping skills. This Christmas-timed release for the DreamWorks Animation threequel marks the first time that a Hollywood animated film has been co-produced by a Chinese firm, in this case Oriental DreamWorks. Set to be distributed by 20th Century Fox, it brings back Kung Fu Panda 2’s director, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, and the screenwriters of both previous films, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. All the original vocal talents are returning with the additions of Bryan Cranston, Mads Mikkelsen, and Rebel Wilson.
The Nut Job 2 (January 15, 2016)
With a surprisingly strong opening weekend, when The Nut Job earned $25.7 million in three days, paving the way for Open Road Films, Redrover Co., and ToonBox Entertainment to quickly greenlight this sequel to the effort. While I personally did not care for the previous film, its early 2014 success has proven that families appreciated this feature length exploration of Surly the Squirrel (Will Arnett) and all his furry buddies voiced by Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fraser, Maya Rudolph, and a villainous Liam Neeson. Not much is yet known about the sequel, save for its release date.
Pets (February 12, 2016)
Conversely, Illumination Entertainment is laying out their next original property very thoroughly for its early 2016 release, Pets. While the title is subject to change, Illumination’s approach likely won’t: it chronicles the lives of cute animals living the good life in a Manhattan apartment building. When their owners leave for work and school, their day begins by socializing and revealing their owners’ most humiliating secrets.
However, when the group’s leader, a terrier voiced by Louis C.K., finds himself displaced by his owner’s new dog Duke (Eric Stonestreet), the two are at odds quickly…and even more quickly on the street. Lost in the big city, they must rely on a fast-talking bunny named Snowball (Kevin Hart) to survive. Helmed by Chris Renaud, co-director of the Despicable Me films, and Yarrow Cheney, this is one to watch.
B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations (TBA 2015)
Until earlier this week, B.O.O. was scheduled for June 5, 2015. And it may still have a 2015 release date, which is good news since this is the closest we may ever get to a true “Ghosbusters 3.” B.O.O. is a new original property from DreamWorks Animation based on an idea by director Tony Leondis: what if ghosts were the paranormal investigators and captors of evil haunters? And so it is with the government’s top-secret organization, the Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, a group so successful that the agency’s Most Wanted Haunter is taking aim to bring them down.
Featuring the voices of Seth Rogen and Melissa McCarthy as the new recruits Moss and Watts (how ready made is the buddy cop material with those handlers?), and Rashida Jones, Octavia Spencer, Matt Bomer, and Bill Murray as the villainous ghost Addison Drake, the cast is stacked. Intriguingly, Murray refused to do a third Ghostbusters film, having only originally suggested that he play himself as a ghost in that movie, and now here he is as a villainous ghost. Could this be the unofficial spin-off of Venkman’s Revenge?
Ratchet & Clank (TBA 2015)
Fans of the Ratchet & Clank video games are about to learn how these characters first met with Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment’s origin film on that very subject. The film will detail how they saved the Solana Galaxy from Chairman Drek with the reliable voices of James Arnold Taylor as Ratchet and David Kaye as Clank. The film is being directed by Jericca Cleland and is purported to be released in early 2015.
Popeye (TBA 2016)
As the Sony Pictures Animation project that Genndy Tartakovsky initially passed over Hotel Transylvania 2 for, little is known about the project save for that it is based on the classic cartoon serial “Popeye.” Spinach eaters may be pleased to know (or not) that The Smurfs’ writers David Ronn and Jay Scherick have writing duties on the Sony release, which is also being produced by Imagi Animation Studios. However, as this project was previously slated for September 2014, little is still known about the movie, which has not yet cast any voices.
Storks (TBA 2017)
And finally, there is the Warner Bros. 2017 effort, Storks. Originally a 2015 release, the film remains on this list in a much more distant 2017 prospect. Little is known about the project, save for that it is written by Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets, Get Him to the Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and is directed by Pixar’s Doug Sweetland. But considering the massive success WB had this past year with the over-performing juggernaut that is The Lego Movie (their first foray back into animated features), odds look good that the studio will be keen to move forward heavily with this and other animated features.
This is an updated version of an article that first appeared on February 13th, 2014.