2016preview_feature 2016preview_feature
Feature Film

Preview: 47 Animated Feature Films to Look for in 2016

From compelling new visions to revivals and reboots of known and lost wonders, next year’s incoming animated features reach far and wide.

But if 2016 will be remembered for one thing, it’ll be for animal movies.

There is a nearly endless stream of movies with predominantly animal casts scheduled to bow next year, among them, Kung Fu Panda 3, Norm of the North, Zootopia, Sing, The Angry Birds Movie, The Secret Life of Pets, Finding Dory, and Ice Age: Collision Course. The big question: Is there a bottomless appetite for these type of films, especially since all of them target the same general family audience?

Here’s some other key films and trends to look for in 2016:

  • Illumination, the studio responsible for 2015’s most successful animated pic, Minions, will release two movies next year: The Secret Life of Pets and Sing. Disney will push out two, too: Zootopia and Moana. And so too will DreamWorks: Kung Fu Panda 3 and Trolls. The two-film-a-year strategy backfired for Pixar this year with The Good Dinosaur becoming the studio’s least successful theatrical release ever. Eyes will be on Illumination, Disney, and DreamWorks to see if they fare better.
  • The venerable Michaël Dudok de Wit will make his feature film debut with The Red Turtle, and if it’s anything like Dudok de Wit’s splendid shorts like Father and Daughter and The Monk and the Fish, it will be a can’t-miss experience. Expectations are running high; the film marks the first time that Studio Ghibli has come aboard as a producing partner on a European animated feature.
  • Speaking of mature animation, in 2015, Anomalisa reminded critics and audiences alike that feature animation doesn’t just have to be aimed at toddlers. That trend continues in 2016 with adult animated features that range from the dead sober (Another Day of Life ) to adult drama (Cinderella the Cat, Loving Vincent) to raunchy teen comedy (Sausage Party). The only problem: non-family animation is ignored by major U.S. film distributors and most of these films will never get significant stateside distribution.
  • Videogames long ago supplanted animation as the entertainment of choice for kids; it’s no surprise then that in 2016, at least six animated features are based on game franchises: The Angry Birds Movie, Ratchet & Clank, Dofus: Book 1—Julith, Sly Cooper, Dragon Nest: Throne of Elves, and King of Prism.
  • While China produces more CG animated features than any other country, most of it is produced cheap and fast for its domestic market where audiences are undemanding. Or at least they used to be. After the smash success of 2015’s Monkey King: Hero is Back, Chinese producers are continuing to boost production standards with the aim of entering the global marketplace. Many of them are doing so with American assistance. Some major Chinese projects to look for in 2016: Rock Dog, developed in China and animated in the U.S. at Reel FX; tech entrepreneur Gary Wang’s entirely Chinese-produced Little Door Gods; and Ping Pong Rabbit, co-directed by Corpse Bride helmer Mike Johnson. Rock Dog and Ping Pong Rabbit are deeply indebted storywise to Kung Fu Panda, a film that has had an outsized effect on the Chinese animation industry. Relatedly, Kung Fu Panda 3, which although animated (and otherwise mostly produced) in the U.S., will technically become the first U.S./Chinese DreamWorks co-production when it’s released next month.

In our roundup below, we list both films that will be coming out in the United States during 2016 as well as films that will be released internationally.

Little Door Gods

Little Door Gods

(1/1/2016, China)
China’s bid for Hollywood’s CGI blockbusters — and a hopeful Academy Award nomination — concerns the fading of the spirit world, and the attempts by two unemployed Door Gods, Shen Lu and Yu Lei, to bring humans back to it.

Director: Gary Wang
Production Company: Light Chaser Animation
Distributor: Alibaba Pictures
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Xiaosong Gao, Hongming Luo

King of Prism by Pretty Rhythm

King of Prism by Pretty Rhythm

(1/9/2016, Japan)

A feature spinoff of the Pretty Rhythm: Rainbow Live TV series, which itself is based on the Pretty Rhythm arcade game series. The film follows the boy band Over the Rainbow who are competing for the Prism King Cup against a rival group, Schwartz Rose. The film falls under the “pretty boy” genre of anime known as bishounen, aimed primarily at girls and women.

Director: Masakazu Hishida
Production Company: Tatsunoko Production
Distributor: Avex Pictures
Technique: Hand-drawn/CG

Norm of the North

Norm of the North

(1/15/2016)

Polar bear Norm takes on a developer threatening to build luxury condos in his icy backyard by journeying to New York City with a cast of lemmings.

Director: Trevor Wall
Production Company: Splash Entertainment
Distributor: Lionsgate
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Gabriel Iglesias, Loretta Devine, Michael McElhatton, Colm Meaney, Bill Nighy

Long Way North

Long Way North (Tout en haut du monde)

(1/27/2016, France)

1892, Saint Petersburg. Sasha, a young Russian aristocrat, fascinated by her grandfather’s life as an adventurer, sets out to find him and his missing arctic ship from his last expedition to the North Pole.

Director: Rémi Chayé
Production Company: Sacrebleu Productions, Maybe Movies, Norlum
Distributor: Diaphana Films
Technique: Hand-drawn

Kung Fu Panda 3

Kung Fu Panda 3

(1/29/2016)

When Po’s father reappears, the duo travels to a secret paradise to train their fellow pandas for a showdown with the supernatural villain, Kai.

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni
Production Company: DreamWorks Animation, Oriental DreamWorks
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Jack Black, Jackie Chan, Bryan Cranston, David Cross, Dustin Hoffman, Kate Hudson, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen

Dofus: Book 1—Julith

Dofus: Book 1—Julith

(2/3/2016, France)

Based on the Flash-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game from France’s Ankama Games, this epic adventure follows Joris and his friends as they defend the majestic city of Bonta from the vengeful witch, Julith.

Director: Anthony Roux, Jean-Jacques Denis
Production Company: Ankama Group
Distributor: Gebeka Movies
Technique: Hand-drawn/CG
Voice Cast: Sauvane Delanoe, Emmanuel Gradi, Laetitia Lefebvre

Snowtime!

Snowtime!

(2/19/2016)

Based on the live-action film La Guerre des Tuques (The Dog Who Stopped the War), Snowtime! examines how a simple snowball fight between kids in a small village deteriorates into a more serious conflict, but builds up to the underlying message that neither side wins in war.

Director: Jean-François Pouliot, François Brisson
Production Company: CarpeDiem
Distributor: Shout! Factory
Technique: Hand-drawn/CG
Voice Cast: Sandra Oh, Angela Gallupo, Lucinda Davis, Sonja Ball, Don Shepherd, Jenna Wheeler, Heidi Lynne Weeks, Elisabeth MacRae, Holly Gauthier, Ross Lynch

El Americano

El Americano

(2/2016)

The first major animated co-production between studios in Mexico and America, this comedy follows the carefree Mexican pre-teen parrot, Cuco, as he journeys to Hollywood to enlist the aid of his hero to help his father, Gayo, and protect his circus family from the threat of Martin Kingfisher.

Director: Ricardo Arnaiz, Mike Kunkel, Raul Garcia
Production Company: Animex Producciones, Anáhuac Films, Olmos Productions, Phil Roman Entertainment
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Rico Rodriguez, Edward James Olmos, Argelia Atilano, Cheech Marin, Kate del Castillo, Paul Rodriguez, K. C. Porter, Erik Estrada, Adal Ramones, Gabriel Iglesias, Don Cheto, Hector Suarez, Lisa Kudrow, Pierre Angelo

BoBoiBoy: The Movie

BoBoiBoy: The Movie

(3/3/2016, Malaysia)

In the popular Malaysian animated TV series about a boy with the power to split into multiple elements, he defends earth from evil squared-headed aliens.

Director: Nizam Razak
Production Company: Animonsta Studios
Distribution: Primework Studios
Technique: CG
Voice cast: Nur Fathiah Diaz, Anas Abdul Aziz, Dzubir Mohamed Zakaria, Azman Zulkiply, Nur Sarah Alisya, Yap Ee Jean

Zootopia

Zootopia

(3/4/2016)

An anthropomorphic tale of a mammal metropolis, Zootopia is also a police procedural partnering optimistic officer Judy Hopps with the scam-artist Nick Wilde to solve a mystery.

Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore
Production Company: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Distributor: Buena Vista
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Bonnie Hunt, Alan Tudyk

The Little Prince

The Little Prince

(3/18/2016)

The first animated feature adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s masterpiece, The Little Prince, is a mixed-media enterprise, with the original Saint-Exupéry tale made in stop motion.

Director: Mark Osborne
Production Company: Onyx Films, Orange Studio, On Entertainment
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Technique: CG/Stop motion
Voice Cast: Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Benicio del Toro, Ricky Gervais

Another Day of Life

Another Day of Life

(March 2016, Poland)

Another Day of Life is based on the work of Polish journalist/war reporter Ryszard Kapuściński, who spent three months in 1975 in Angola at the beginning of the country’s decades-long civil war.

Director: Raul de la Fuente, Damian Nenow
Production Company: Platige Image, Kanaki Films, Walking the Dog, Wüste Film, Animations Fabrik, Puppetworks
Technique: CG/Live-action
Voice Cast: Ryszard Kapuściński

Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank

(4/29/2016)

Sony Playstation’s long-running game franchise gets a feature origin story, telling the story of how Ratchet and Clank struggle to stop Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in the Solana Galaxy.

Director: Kevin Munroe
Production Company: Rainmaker Entertainment, Blockade Entertainment, PlayStation Originals
Distributor: Focus Features, Gramercy Pictures
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, David Kaye, Sylvester Stallone, James Arnold Taylor, Bella Thorne, Jim Ward

The Angry Birds Movie

The Angry Birds Movie

(5/20/2016)

Angry Birds’ Red, Chuck, Bomb, Matilda, Stella, Hal and Bubbles defend their paradise from arrival of the Pigs, lead by Leonard.

Director: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Rovio Entertainment, Rovio Mobile, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI), Village Roadshow Pictures
Distributor: Sony/Columbia
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Peter Dinklage

Finding Dory

Finding Dory

(6/17/2016)
Months after the events of Finding Nemo, Dory swims with Nemo and Marlin to find her family on the California coast, meeting Bailey the white beluga whale, Destiny the whale shark, and Hank the octopus along the way.

Director: Andrew Stanton
Production Company: Pixar Animation Studios
Distributor: Buena Vista
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Ty Burrell, Kaitlin Olson, Ed O’Neill, Willem Dafoe, Vicki Lewis, Idris Elba, Dominic West

Secret Life of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets

(7/8/2016)

A sneak peek into the nine-to-five routines of pets living in a bustling Manhattan apartment, Illumination’s newest film is a high-concept attractor for animal lovers.

Director: Chris Renaud
Production Company: Illumination
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Steve Coogan, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks

Ice Age: Collision Course

Ice Age: Collision Course

(7/22/2016)

Scrat chases his elusive acorn into space, where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transform and threaten the Ice Age World.

Director: Mike Thurmeier, Galen T. Chu
Production Company: Blue Sky Studios
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Simon Pegg, Keke Palmer, Wanda Sykes, Jennifer Lopez, Stephanie Beatriz, Adam DeVine, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Max Greenfield, Jessie J, Nick Offerman, Melissa Rauch, Michael Strahan, Neil deGrasse Tyson

One Piece Film: Gold

One Piece Film: Gold

(7/23/2016, Japan)

One Piece is an unstoppable franchise: not only is it the bestselling manga of all-time, but over 700 TV episodes and 12 animated features have been produced about Monkey D. Luffy and gang. Gold is the thirteenth One Piece feature produced in the last 15 years.

Director: Hiroaki Miyamoto
Production Company: Toei Animation
Distribution: Toei Company
Technique: Hand-drawn

Ping Pong Rabbit

Ping Pong Rabbit

(7/29/2016, China)

Stop motion veteran Mike Johnson, who co-directed The Corpse Bride, teams up with Chinese animation director Yuefeng Song to make this film about a ping pong-loving rabbit written by High School Musical scribe Peter Barsocchini.

Director: Mike Johnson, Yuefeng Song
Production Company: Mili Pictures Worldwide
Technique: CG

Sausage Party

Sausage Party

(8/12/2016)

This R-rated comedy follows a sausage and his friends, as they try to get back to the shopping market aisles for a Fourth of July sale after falling out of a cart.

Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Production Company: Nitrogen Studios Canada, Annapurna Pictures, Point Grey Pictures
Distributor: Sony/Columbia
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Salma Hayek, Edward Norton, David Krumholtz, Michael Cera, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, Danny McBride

Your Name

Your Name (Kimi no Na wa)

(August 2016, Japan)

From the director of The Garden of Words and 5 Centimeters Per Second, Makoto Shinkai’s latest film is a “story of miracles and love” revolving around two Japanese teenagers who lead very different lives yet manage to find each other through their dreams.

Director: Makoto Shinkai
Production Company: CoMix Wave Inc.
Technique: Hand-drawn
Voice cast: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi

Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings

(8/19/2016)

Laika’s latest stop-motion wonder is a Japanese fantasy about kindhearted Kubo, whose humble seaside existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta.

Director: Travis Knight
Production Company: Laika
Distributor: Focus Features
Technique: Stop motion
Voice Cast: Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, Brenda Vaccaro

Storks

Storks

(9/23/2016)

Junior and Tulip, two top storks delivering packages for a global Internet giant, accidentally activate a Baby Making Machine, which produces a girl they must deliver to the only human on Stork Mountain.

Director: Nick Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Production Company: Warner Animation Group, Sony Pictures Imageworks
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Kelsey Grammer, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Andy Samberg

Red Turtle

The Red Turtle

(September 2016, Japan)

Hayao Miyazaki hand-picked the Oscar-winning director for this dialogue-lesss film collaboration between his legendary studio and France’s Wild Bunch, which tracks the life stages of a castaway on a deserted tropical island populated by turtles, crabs, and birds.

Director: Michaël Dudok de Wit
Production Company: Studio Ghibli, Why Not Productions, Wild Bunch
Distributor: Toho
Technique: Hand-drawn

Día de Muertos

Día de Muertos

(October 16, 2016, Mexico)

In the town where the Day of the Dead legend arose, there is an ancient secret that is about to be revealed by a brave young man.

Director: Carlos Gutiérrez Medrano
Production Company: Metacube, Red & Black Films
Technique: CG

Trolls

Trolls

(11/4/2016)

Princess Poppy and Branch venture beyond the world they know in a quest testing their strength and true colors.

Director: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
Production Company: DreamWorks Animation
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake

Moana

Moana

(11/23/2016)

The Princess and the Frog directors tell a tale of the navigator Moana, as she sets sail in the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania and teams up with the heroic demi-god Maui in search a fabled island.

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Production Company: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Distributor: Buena Vista
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Tudyk

Sing

Sing

(12/21/2016)

Buster the koala recruits his best friend Eddie the black sheep to help him drum up business for his theater by hosting a singing competition.

Director: Garth Jennings
Production Company: Illumination
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton

No Release Date Set, But Scheduled For Completion or U.S. Distribution in 2016

April and the Extraordinary World

April and the Extraordinary World

(2016)

In a dystopian steampunk sci-fi set in an alternative Paris, a young girl, April, sets out to find her scientist parents who have disappeared.

Director: Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci
Production Company: Je Suis Bien Content, Studiocanal, Kaibou Production UMT, Need Productions, Arte France Cinéma
Distribution: GKIDS
Technique: Hand-drawn
Voice Cast: Marion Cotillard, Jean Rochefort, Olivier Gourmet

Ana y Bruno

Ana y Bruno

(2016, Mexico)

Mexican director Carlos Carrera has experienced success both in live-action, nominated for a foreign language Academy Award for El crimen del Padre Amaro, and animation, winning the Cannes Palme d’Or for short film in 1994 for El héroe. Now, he makes his feature animation debut with Ana y Bruno, about a young girl who teams up with a creature named Bruno to help save his mother from grave danger.

Director: Carlos Carrera
Production Company: Anima Estudios, Discreet Arts Productions, Lo Coloco Films
Technique: CG

Animal Crackers

Animal Crackers

(2016)

A family’s life is turned upside down when they inherit a rundown circus and a magical box of animal crackers, which change those who eat them into the animal they’ve eaten.

Director: Tony Bancroft, Scott Christian Sava
Production Company: Blue Dream Studios, Beijing Wen Hua Dong Run Investment Co., China Film Co., Exit Strategy Productions, Landmark International, Storyoscopic Films
Distributor: Odin’s Eye Entertainment
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Ian McKellen, Danny DeVito, Patrick Warburton, Wallace Shawn, Gilbert Gottfried, Raven-Symoné, Tara Strong, Harvey Fierstein

Ballerina

Ballerina

(2016)

In 1879, an orphan girl named Felice dreams of becoming a ballerina and flees rural Brittany with the orphan boy, Corentin, setting out for Paris, where she assumes another identity and becomes a pupil at the Grand Opera house.

Director: Eric Summer, Éric Warin
Production Company: Caramel Film, Quad Productions
Distributor: Gaumont International
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaane

Cinderella the Cat

Cinderella the Cat (Gatta Cenerentola)

(2016, Italy)

This adult iteration of Cinderella is set in Naples and based on Roberto de Simone’s 1976 opera, La Gatta Cenerentola, a futuristic adaptation of the classic fairy tale celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016.

Director: Alessandro Rak, Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri, Dario Sansone
Production Company: Mad Entertainment
Technique: CG

Detective

Detective

(2016, Bangladesh)

Produced for well under US$1 million, the film is notable for being the first animated feature ever produced in Bangladesh, according to its producers. It’s based on a story by Bengali hero Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

Director: Tapan Ahmed
Production Company: Jaaz Multimedia
Technique: CG
Voice cast: Arifin Shuvoo

Dragon Nest: Throne of Elves

Dragon Nest: Throne of Elves

(2016, China)

Throne of Elves is the second animated feature based on the popular online game Dragon Nest. The first feature, Dragon Nest: Warriors’ Dawn, was released in 2014.

Director: Yuefeng Song, Yi Ge
Production Company: Mili Pictures Worldwide
Distributor: Avex Pictures
Technique: CG

Henchmen

Henchmen

(2016)

Sidekicks to super-villains take center stage in this tale of a new recruit, Lester, who joins the Union of Evil and is assigned to a motley crew of blue-collar workers seeking to defeat their nemesis, Captain Superior.

Director: Adam Wood
Production Company: Bron Studios
Distributor: Entertainment One
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Rosario Dawson, James Marsden, Nathan Fillion, Jane Krakowski, Bobcat Goldthwait, Alfred Molina, Rob Riggle, Craig Robinson, Thomas Middleditch, Will Sasso

Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom

Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom

(2016)

Based on the graphic novel by Bruce Brown, Howard Lovecraft is a blend of fiction and biography that combines new storytelling, events of H.P. Lovecraft’s life, and iconic elements of his writings.

Director: Sean Patrick O’Reilly
Production Company: Arcana Studio
Distribution: Shout! Factory
Technique: CG

Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent

(2016)

An ambitious animated feature in which every frame is painted about the challenging life and mysterious death of the timeless artist, Vincent van Gogh.

Director: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Production Company: BreakThru Productions, Trademark Films
Technique: Hand-drawn/CG
Voice Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Aidan Turner, Douglas Booth, Helen McCrory, Chris O’Dowd

My Life As A Zucchini

My Life As A Zucchini (Ma vie de courgette)

(2016, France/Switzerland)

Based on Gilles Paris’s novel Autobiographie d’une courgette. After his mother’s sudden death, a boy named Zucchini struggles and learns to find his place in a foster home.

Director: Claude Barras
Production Company: RITA, Blue Spirit Productions, Gébéka Films, KNM
Technique: Stop motion

Phantom Boy

Phantom Boy

(2016)

From the makers of the Oscar-nominated French film A Cat in Paris, Phantom Boy is described as a “stylish animated noir” that follows a New York City boy named Leo with a mysterious illness who haunts the city as a ghostly apparition.

Director: Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol
Production Company: Folimage, Lunanime, France 3 Cinéma, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma
Distribution: GKIDS
Technique: Hand-drawn

Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe

(2016, Germany)

Tuesday the outgoing parrot lives with his animal friends in a tiny island paradise — until Robinson Crusoe shows up — in this Belgian adaptation of the classic Daniel Defoe novel.

Director: Ben Stassen, Vincent Kesteloot
Production Company: StudioCanal, nWave Pictures
Distributor: Lionsgate
Technique: CG

Rock Dog

Rock Dog

(2016, China)

The most expensive 100% Chinese-financed animated production to date, and animated entirely in the United States, Rock Dog marks the first time a Chinese animated feature has been designed as a cross-cultural project for both Chinese and Western audiences. The movie tells the story of Bodi, a Tibetan Mastiff who becomes obsessed with an old-school rocker (and cat) named Angus, and must prove to his father that becoming a musician is a worthy career path for a dog.

Director: Ash Brannon
Production Company: Reel FX, Mandoo Pictures, Huayi Brothers
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Luke Wilson, J. K. Simmons, Eddie Izzard, Lewis Black, Sam Elliott, Kenan Thomposon, Matt Dillon

Sheep & Wolves

Sheep & Wolves

(2016, Russia)

Wizart, the Russian studio responsible for the popular Snow Queen franchise, takes on another classic set-up: sheep and wolves. Scriptwriter Neil Landau (Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead) adds some twists though, such as a wolf who accidentally takes a magic poison that gives him the body of a ram.

Director: Maxim Volkov
Production Company: Wizart Animation, CTB Film Company
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ruby Rose, Tom Felton, China Anne McClain

Sly Cooper

Sly Cooper

(2016)

Based on Sony Playstation’s game franchise, this animated comedy follows the adventures of the orphaned raccoon thief, Sly Cooper, and his childhood friends (and partners in crime), Bentley Turtle and Murray Hippo.

Director: Kevin Munroe
Production Company: Blockade Entertainment, Rainmaker Entertainment, PlayStation Originals
Distributor: New Line Cinema, Cinema Management Group
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ian James Corlett, Matt Olsen, Chris Murphy

Spark

Spark

(2016)

Spark and his friends, Chunk and Vix, are on a mission to retake Bana, a planet ruled by the evil overlord, Zhong.

Director: Aaron Woodley
Production Company: Toonbox Entertainment, Redrover, Gulfstream Pictures
Technique: CG
Voice cast: Hilary Swank, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Biel, Patrick Stewart

Tad Jones: The Hero Returns

Tad Jones: The Hero Returns

(2016, Spain)

A follow-up to the hit 2012 Spanish children’s feature Tad, The Lost Explorer, which held the number one spot at the Spanish box office for five weeks in a row. The franchise stars a bricklayer named Tad who moonlights as an adventurer/archaeologist.

Director: Enrique Gato, David Alsonso
Production Company: Lightbox Entertainment, Telefonica Studios, Telecinco Cinema, Los Rockets AIE
Distribution: Paramount Pictures
Technique: CG

The Nut Job 2

The Nut Job 2

(2016)

Surly the squirrel’s adventures continue. Originally scheduled for a January 2016, release, the film has been pushed back and does not have a new release date as of this writing.

Director: Cal Brunker
Production Company: Gulfstream Pictures, Red Rover International, Toonbox Entertainment
Distribution: Open Road Films
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Will Arnett, Jeff Dunham, Joe Pingue, Rob Tinkler

(Feature film list compiled by Scott Thill and Amid Amidi.)

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  • I believe Disney has the advantage as far as two films being released this year is concerned, in comparison with Illumination Entertainment and DreamWorks. DreamWorks could win with Kung Fu Panda 3, but I am not too convinced with their second film Trolls. As for Illumination, I am more excited for The Secret Life of Pets than I am with Sing. Maybe when Sing comes out with a trailer, it could change my mind.

    Zootopia is the no. 1 film on my list to see for 2016 out of these films. Even over Pixar’s Finding Dory. The relationship between Judy Hopps (bunny) and Nick Wilde (fox) is already working in the promos, hopefully it stays consistent in the film. Kubo has my interest as well, seeing I haven’t been interested in Laika’s last two films.

    I’m glad to see more hand drawn films being done, though it looks like it’s mostly anime. Would love to see more diversity in styles. Dofus: Book 1: Julith is intriguing, so I hope they bring that over to the States. A lot of video game films, and none of them really look interesting to watch.

    Lastly, BoBoiBoy looks like a boy band out to save the world. LOL

    • KD

      Box Trolls was okay, you try watching Paranorman though. It’s very good.

      • I did watch Paranorman when it came in theaters. It was ok. The animation improved from Coraline, and done very well, but I didn’t care for the story or the character designs. I didn’t bother with BoxTrolls.

  • Grant Beaudette

    2016: Year of the Furry.

  • Marc Hendry

    fantastic! Not all of these look great, but it’s live in a time when there’s this much animation going on. Even with hand-drawn animation, there must be more hand-drawn features being done right now than at any point in the 1940’s ‘golden age’. I’m especially looking forward to Kubo and the Longway North

  • Rob Bob

    Hope that The Nut Job 2 gets cancelled e_e

    • Surly

      Too bad, we are busy working on it

    • dont think so

      well, kids will love the show for sure.

  • Tre

    Sigh. Another Ice Age film?
    Aside from that, there’s quite a few I’m looking forward to here.

  • Oh wow, Long Way North looks beautiful!! France seems to have some of the most exciting projects on the list.

  • Thannia Blanchet

    What? I already saw The Little Prince in my local theater in Mexico, has it not been released in America yet? We usually get things later…

    • AmidAmidi

      Little Prince has a very odd distribution pattern. It’s remarkable that it’s even getting a major US release since it’s not an American film. But it hasn’t been released yet in the US, UK, or Australia, among a few other countries.

      • experiment626

        It’s a shame really, it’s such a fantastic film. Though on the brightside, it’s not going to be competing with 2015’s batch of films, which were pretty great.

        The question is wether it can stand out against both Zootopia and Moana in terms of being an all-ages film.

    • J.S

      It was also released in Argentina a few months ago.

  • BurntToShreds

    One Piece is going to annihilate anything else that’s at the Japanese box office this summer.

  • ea

    Is the Chew movie coming out next year?

  • Yllogique

    “Scheduled for completion” ? Shouldn’t it read “scheduled for US/international release” ?
    Phantom Boy and April and the Extraordinary World are completed, and have both already been released in France !
    That being said, I didn’t know about a lot of these movies so I’m really happy to have so much to look forward to this next year !

    • AmidAmidi

      Yes, it should say both. Some of the films may be completed in the second half of ’16 but aren’t 100% confirmed for release yet. But, like you say, some have already been released internationally and are only awaiting US distrib.

  • Egor Chashchin

    Hey, don’t you hear about our “Quackerz” 3d movie, which is almost released?

  • JoJo

    Amid, you should include the Japanese feature “Classmates” (Dou kyu sei). This is the first time that an animated feature that centers on a gay romance in getting a theatrical U.S. release (albeit a limited one).

  • Jack

    (Sigh) can’t there be a US feature that’s Hand-Drawn or at least in a different style from like every Dreamworks, Disney, and Blue Sky film out there.

    Also, it’s wierd that Sony wouldn’t distribute a film based off of their OWN video game franchise.

    • I would love for a US studio to do a hand drawn animated feature film as well Jack. We know though that businesses see more wealth in CGI than hand drawn, as well as the process to have it done mostly in the States (depending on their work flow) compared to having to ship work overseas, and go back and forth for post production.

      I also wonder of animation college programs and their goal of what kind of animation to teach. We know that CalArts does a great job inspiring their students to do hand drawn projects, but it’s hard to see other programs following that leadership. I know there are other hand drawn animators attending at other schools, I just don’t know their programs to be very dedicated to the hand drawn medium like CalArts in the States (unless someone would like to let me know of others I am missing).

    • Corwin Haught

      The Flash-drawn My Little Pony movie is set for 2017 from Hasbro Studios and DHX Media Vancouver.

  • Elsi Pote

    Lots of fluff and noise indeed, however I would only look forward to kubo, storks and king fu panda 3

  • Conor Murnane

    “Kubo and the Two Strings” is easily my most anticipated (wide-released) animated film of next year. “Storks” and “Rock Dog” also look quite promising, and “Sausage Party” intrigues me just from the concept alone.

  • Soon Jae Kwon

    Awesome information! Where is Finding Dory though?

  • HSF

    Animal crackers is a rip off of mike and the magic cookies

    • jhalpernkitcat

      I was actually thinking the same thing–I loved that book as a kid.

  • Steve Muench

    To the best of my knowledge, “Loving Vincent” is all hand-painted animation done in oil paints, and is not using CG.

  • I’m very excited to see many of these movies.

  • Tigercat919

    The trailer to the Secret Life of Pets is very entertaining but I am almost 100% certain the full thing won’t be anywhere near as good. Maybe it’s just my aversion to Illumination’s work?

  • tristan1590
  • I know Tartakovsky (unfortunately) is no longer connected to Sony’s Popeye — but isn’t it still coming out in 2016? What’s the latest?

    • It’s on hold until they can find a director (yep, Wikipedia mentions Popeye (“The Popeye Movie”), but take it with a grain of salt….).

  • ddrazen

    Here’s hoping “Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom” does NOT feel the need to explore the recurring racism in his stories.

  • Tim Tran

    I have 10 films on this list that I’m 100% sure I’ll be watching, whether at home or in theaters. Very exciting!!

  • experiment626

    Already seen “The Little Prince” and it’s my favorite movie of 2015, I’m most looking forward to “Zootopia”, “Moana” and “Long Way North” for 2016. Expecting a pleasant surprise from “Storks” and “Kubo and the Two Strings” as well.

  • Justin

    Wow! This year’s lineup looks pretty fun! It’s really invigorating seeing China steadily finding a niche in the animation market. Looking most forward to Kung Fu Panda 3, Long Way North, The Little Prince, One Piece: Film Gold, April and the Extraordinary World, and Phantom Boy. Moana and Zootopia look promising and can hopefully take out the bad taste in my mouth left by Frozen and Big Hero 6 — both of which I honestly found pretty bland. All of these, except maybe the video game tie-ins, look worth the watch!

  • Maggiemay

    The sins of the nation shall be paid for with mediocre animation.

  • Abel Góngora

    Let’s not forget next Yuasa Masaaki’s film ;)