Animation round-up: Simon Pegg, Giacchino, Disney Henry Selick, Wizards 2

Lots has been going on in the world of animated movies this week. Here's our round up...

The big animation news this week is the return of Henry Selick, finally getting a new project going after his labour of love, The Shadow King, was abandoned by Disney and rejected by Laika. Wendell And Wild is being developed now by Selick and Key & Peele, with Selick and Jordan Peele set to write the screenplay.

According to Variety, Selick has pitched the premise as being “a comedy about two scheming demon brothers who must face their arch-nemesis, the demon-dusting nun Sister Helly and her two acolytes, the goth teens Kat and Raoul.”

There’s no buyer working on the project yet, so we’re some away from this project gelling into something real, but really, any step forwards for a Selick project is something I’m exceptionally excited about. This man has steered some of the most ambitious, accomplished and enduring stop motion works of the modern age, and I think his body of work – at least the parts of it that are animated – will only grow in stature as the years go on. It’s just been officially announced after this piece was written, but it was looking already like Simon Pegg will be back for next summer’s Ice Age: Collision Course. Here’s an image I’ve acquired, and which was shown to tie-in manufacturers at the recent Brand Licensing Europe show. 


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Pegg’s character Buck is clearly present, alongside Crash and Eddie, the core team of Manny, Diego and Sid. You will also see Granny Sloth there too, which suggests that Wanda Sykes will be back for more also.

Also on Ice Age 5…

— 20th Century Fox UK (@20CenturyFoxUK) November 6, 2015

What any of this tells us about the plot… I don’t know. But I expect we’ll be seeing a teaser for Collision Course soon, with Blue Sky’s Peanuts movie opening in the US this weekend.

Another sequel to a long running funny animal franchise is set for a straight-to-disc release next March.

Sony Animation timed the release for their first Open Season: Scared Silly trailer to Halloween, but I do wonder why they didn’t actually time the film’s release for October too. Okay, maybe not this October, if they didn’t want to go offset their own, big screen release of Hotel Transylvania 2 – not that straight-to-disc and cinema releases are necessarily competitors – but next October? Probably something to do with ledgers, financial years and shareholders. Many things in the film business are, of course, when you dig down to their foundations.

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 Talking of release dates, we may now have a long-reaching roster of Walt Disney Animation, Toon Disney Studios and Pixar’s plans for new features, all the way into 2020. According to CBO Box Office, the calendar shapes up like this: The Good Dinosaur – November 25th, 2015.Zootopia – February 17th, 2016Finding Dory – June 29th, 2016Moana – November 20th, 2016Cars 3 – July 26th, 2017Coco – 29th November 2017Gigantic – March 21st, 2018Toy Story 4 – July 4th, 2018Untitled Disney Animation – November 28th, 2018A Disney Toon Studios Animation – April 10th, 2019The Incredibles 2 – June 26th, 2019Untitled Pixar animation – June 24th, 2020Untitled Disney Animation – November 25t, 2020 At least two of these films should have Michael Giacchino scores, with Brad Bird recently announcing his intent to bring the composer back for The Incredibles 2 and Giacchino himself telling Chronique Disney that he’s writing the music for next Spring’s Zootopia. Is he also working on something Star Wars related? Depends on how much you want to read into this recent tweet, I suppose. Now, the above list was of French release dates, but the indications are clear and we’ve got some sort of idea of what to expect and when. At least until everything is shuffled up to make way for new ideas, and to accommodate unexpected delays, of course.

Opening this week in France is April And The Rigged World, or April Et Le Monde Truque. It’s inspired by a streampunk adventure comic book by Jacques Tardi, creator of Adele Blanc Sec, and stars Marion Cotillard as a cat-loving scientist heroine. Looks tremendous, and hopefully Studio Canal will make something of its UK release, whenever that might be.

Also out this week, but this time in the US, is Peanuts, adapting Charles Schulz’s unimpeachable comic strip classic into a very idiosyncratic, excitingly adventurous CG style. This first full clip shows Snoopy indulging in a little Red Baron action. It’s maybe not the most representative selection, but Blue Sky did something similar by promoting their Ice Age films with Scrat clips and that seemed to work.

Another clip, but an altogether shorter one, is this micro-sample of The Good Dinosaur. See if you can guess which day of the week this was released on.

Also marketing Pixar’s latest, in a sense, are the new Disney Infinity Spot figure and Good Dinosaur power disc pack. Spot, my fellow Infinity fans might like to know, has been designed as a Jedi-beater, with fast dodges and some kick, hard attacks for those who can pull off the best combos. The power discs bring four of the film’s dino characters, including Arlo, into the game as mounts that other characters can ride. Cannon Busters is a new, US-originated, Japanese-animated, anime-inspired, crowdfunded project from LeSean Thomas, alum of The Boondocks and The Legend of Korra. Here’s the trailer, as spotted at Shadow and Act

 Thomas has described the story of Cannon Busters as “The Wizard Of Oz meets The Hidden Fortress,” which seemed to work very well in 1977, and I don’t know why it won’t work very well again. There’s a pilot so far, funded to the tune of $150,000 by Kickstarter, but no clue as to what the next step will be. I’ll try to keep you posted on where and when non-backers will see Cannon Busters, or if there’s any pick-up for a full series. Warner Bros. animation are planning to raid their back catalogue for material to reboot. According to Deadline, new SVP Jay Bastian is charged with “identifying properties from the Warner Bros. collection — including Hanna-Barbera, Looney Tunes, DC Entertainment and MGM — to develop for new television series, shortform content and feature-length projects for home entertainment.”

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Here’s hoping he can do better than the WWE-meets-Scooby Doo schlock we’ve been delivered in recent months. Hopefully he’ll be able to match or better Wabbit, the current Bugs Bunny series from Boomerang that usually, mostly, kinda, sorta works. A bit. There’s something honestly jaw-dropping at the end of this trailer for Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

 Yep, it’s the release date. They’re going out as counter-programming to Star Wars. They might end up looking like roadkill… or we could all be taught a lesson about the durability and box office agility of the common CG chipmunk. It was Fritz The Cat and Lord Of The Rings director Ralph Bakshi’s 77th birthday last week and he celebrated with the release of The Last Days Of Coney Island. At less than thirty minutes it’s a swift watch, though its ambitions might have benefited from a bigger canvas and more depth. Besides, Bakshi hasn’t made a feature 1992’s Cool World and I really hope that’s not the last full-length project he gets to make.

You can stream Coney Island thing through Vimeo, where most of the money goes direct to the filmmakers, and Bakshi fans would be well advised to do so. Fritz-Heavy Traffic-Coonskin Bakshi fans that is, not necessarily Rings-Wizards-Fire and Ice Bakshi fans. 

 Having said that, while Bakshi was out promoting this film, he did share something to cheer his more genre-oriented admirers. As told to Gothamist, Bakshi’s next project is likely to be Wizards II, “because the Middle East today is going exactly in the direction I saw in Wizards. The ecology, and the warming of the planet…the destruction of Israel, which everyone’s getting ready to do again. That’s something I’d like to talk about.” I’m very glad that Bakshi is still committed to making films that mean something, and which stand for his values. Another elder statesman of animation has taken to Kickstarter in the last week or so, with Don Bluth looking for our support to get a Dragon’s Lair movie on course.

It should be noted clearly that Bluth’s not asking for money to produce an actual film, but instead just a teaser trailer. The idea is that this will then attract commercial funding for the full project, but… well, I’m not sure if it’s going to work. It certainly didn’t work for David Fincher and Blur Studios’ Goon project, and if somebody did want to consider funding a Dragon’s Lair film, surely the many minutes of existing animation from the original game would be sufficient demonstration of Bluth’s vision?

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 The animation industry – industries? – are in rude health. It’s a good time to be a fan of toons. Now… when do we in the UK get to see Peanuts, eh? Can Fox maybe manage to give it some preview screenings before the December 21st roll-out, the way so many family films do? That’s my animation wish for this week.

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