In the Fall, as the kids head back to school, the market for animated films bottoms out. In the next two months, Disney’s limited engagement 3D re-release of The Lion King, opening for two weeks only on September 16th, will be the only animated product in the market.
Fans of the genre will have to wait for winter before the next wave of animated features heats up. From the look of things however, it will be worth the wait. Winter heralds the release of a spin-off from a favored franchise, a blockbuster animated sequel and one of the most ambitious animated originals ever conceived.
Puss in Boots – November 4th
I was among many who rolled their eyes at Dreamworks’ attempt to keep the Shrek franchise alive by spinning off Puss in Boots. Now however, after seeing the film’s delightful trailer, it seems that Puss in Boots could be something more than just a cash grab cannibalizing a beloved franchise.
Antonio Banderas is once again the voice of the dashing kitty Puss in Boots who faces bandits attacking a small village. Puss is joined by his old friend and informant Humpty Dumpty, the voice of The Hangover star Zach Galifianakis, and Kitty Softpaws, voice of Salma Hayek, Banderas’s former Desperado co-star.
Happy Feet 2 - November 18th
When the original Happy Feet grossed more than $380 million dollars at the worldwide box office, a sequel became inevitable. That sequel, Happy Feet 2, arrives in theaters on November the 18th but don’t think that writer-director George Miller is merely recycling the original Happy Feet.
Yes, the movie will focus on singing and dancing penguins as the original did but Miller has recruited a couple of weighty new voices for the Happy Feet 2 cast.
Cast members include Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, among others. Taking up the musical slack is pop superstar Pink.
Happy Feet 2 is also adding another popular star, the 3rd Dimension. The film will be released in 3D.
Arthur Christmas - November 23rd
Sony is celebrating Christmas over the Thanksgiving holiday with Arthur Christmas. The original animated feature, Arthur Christmas features the voice of James McAvoy as Arthur, the son of Santa Claus. When Arthur sets out to answer the legendary question of how Santa delivers presents all over the world in a single night, he winds up on an unlikely journey that will bond him with his dysfunctional family.
Arthur Christmas has the dubious task of going toe to tapping toe with Happy Feet 2 in 3D at the box office; arriving just five days after the dancing penguin flick. Even with the aid of the usually bountiful Thanksgiving box office, Arthur Christmas has an uphill task opening so close to an expected animated blockbuster.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn - December 23rd
It’s arguably the most ambitious animated movie of all time. Heavyweights Steven Speilberg and Peter Jackson have placed a $135 million dollar plus bet on motion capture animation and the appeal of the French comic strip The Adventures of Tintin.
Having the names Steven Speilberg and Peter Jackson on the masthead will help but given audience reluctance to embrace motion capture features (Mars Needs Moms, yikes!), even Speilberg and Jackson are no guarantee of box office success.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, intended as the first film in a trilogy, finds young newspaper reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell), along with his dog Snowy, encountering Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) and eventually joining the Captain on the search for a treasure lost at sea that may be connected to one of the Captain’s ancestors. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Daniel Craig round out the voice cast.
So there you go. Those are the animated films that have us most excited, what about you?