sing_teaser_illumination sing_teaser_illumination
Feature Film

Illumination Premieres ‘Sing’ Teaser

We’ve already had a look at Illumination Entertainment’s first animal-driven film of 2016, The Secret Life of Pets, and today we get a first look at the second one, Sing, out on December 21, 2016 from Universal.

Written and directed by Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Sing follows an enterprising koala (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) who decides to stage the world’s greatest singing competition out of his rundown theater.

Unlike Secret Life of Pets which takes place in the real world, Sing is set in a Zootopia-esque fantasy universe inhabited entirely by animals. The film is packed with music–at least 85 songs in it, according to the producers–and claims a celebrity voice cast that, in addition to McConaughey, includes the following:

Five lead contestants emerge: A mouse (Seth MacFarlane) who croons as smoothly as he cons, a timid teenage elephant (Tori Kelly) with an enormous case of stage fright, an overtaxed mother (Reese Witherspoon) run ragged tending a litter of 25 piglets, a young gangster gorilla (Taron Egerton) looking to break free of his family’s felonies, and a punk-rock porcupine (Scarlett Johansson) struggling to shed her arrogant boyfriend and go solo. Each animal arrives under Buster’s marquee believing that this is their shot to change the course of their life.

Chris Meledandri’s Illumination has proven adept at packaging the Despicable Me franchise into a monster brand. The big test for the studio will be this year when it releases two original films, with Sing being the quirkier concept of the two. So far, there’s nothing to suggest they won’t be able to pull it off.

Like with Minions, Illumination continues to do a great job of selling its films with light visual comedy — the Dachshund getting massaged by the kitchen mixer in Secret Life of Pets has been shared literally hundreds of millions of times on social media — and the Sing trailer keeps up with the same formula, especially with the pig in the gold-sequined track suit singing Lady Gaga. Illumination and Universal’s marketing are even repackaging the visual comedy in easy-to-share chunks on social media, such as on Instagram.

Audiences may eventually catch on to this Illumination formula and reject it outright, like they did with Disney in the late-1990s, and DreamWorks in the early-2010s, but for now, Illumination is sailing smooth.

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  • See, cause Animation Scoop also did a Sing trailer post, and it read literally like a press release. I’m glad Cartoon Brew looked at it with a more critical eye and wider view of the greater animation biz.

  • toddspage111

    >Audiences may eventually catch on to this Illumination formula and reject it outright, like they did with Disney in the late-1990s, and DreamWorks in the late-2010s

    Can somebody explain this reference?

    • AmidAmidi

      Sorry, meant to say early-2010s for DreamWorks. It’s been corrected.

      • Barrett

        I agree with your Dreamworks point, but Disney didn’t decline in the early ’00s because of “formula”, they declined because they came out with weaker and weaker stories.

        Disney was catching a lot of crap in the late 90s because of the perceived “every film is about a princess” trend, even though The Lion King and Hunchback didn’t involve any princesses, and Mulan only became a “princess” post-facto via Disney marketing; she was never royalty in the film or even the direct-to-video sequel. Nevertheless, Disney tried like hell to counter this perception by trying a lot of different kinds of stories, some successful (Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, The Emperor’s New Groove) and many not so much. But after the lackluster stories of Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, and Home on The Range, it was clear the creative gas tank had run out in the story department, though the honchos of course blamed it on 2D instead. The initial 3D films were just as clunky or downright horrible as the preceding 2D films, and they didn’t actually pull off a solid story in 3D until Tangled, which (along with Princess and the Frog) revived the whole princess thing.

        I’m glad that Disney now seems content to have both princess-ly stories (Frozen) mixed in with more general-interest stories (Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6). Zootopia looks solid, and buzz seems good on Moana. Frankly, I’m glad to see Disney doing well again, even if it means occasionally putting up with films that have lots of mainstream popularity, but are not as well-regarded by the animation community (Frozen.)

  • ea

    I wonder if they’re going to have this song in the movie:

    • Sara Bersani

      They really should, it would give it some edge

  • Jessie

    does anyone know if MacGuff is animating this?

    • Mike

      Yes. Illumination acquired the animation division of Mac Guff a few years ago, and they are responsible for all of Illumination’s fully animated films. I thought it was kind of a shame that Illumination didn’t stick with their original mission of creating animated productions in conjunction with studios globally…but can’t fault ’em for keeping a good thing going.

  • Fried

    Undoubtedly Seth was hired for his singing ability, not his writing or directing ability. I think that might be the only thing he will be contributing to the film.

  • Plus the fact that Universal spent half a BILLION dollars on marketing that movie didn’t hurt.

  • Netko

    I especially dislike the numerous small straight teeth they put into some characters’ mouths, like this koala or the dog in Secret Life of Pets. They freak me out.

  • slowtiger

    Not funny, not interesting. But maybe it is for all the people watching casting shows? In that case it will be successful.

  • Jack Blackstone

    I feel the opposite. This movie looks like it has personality while “Pets” looks bland.

    • Barrett

      Both feel like they could be entertaining, but IN SPITE of their premises. Both “Secret Life of Pets” and “Sing” feel like rather been-there, done-that premises, especially “Sing.” What keeps blowing me away is how amazing the character animation and, in later films, the visual details are, in the Illumination productions. If they were not so well-done art-wise, I probably wouldn’t bother with either “Sing” or “Pets.” I can only imagine what levels of success they could reach if they took their storytelling to the next level instead of putting out Dreamworks-esque “crowd-pleasing” pap.

      The first “Despicable Me” was a real surprise, but nothing they’ve done since then, even DM2, has had the same kind of heart and storytelling excellence of the first film. I’m thinking that Sergio Pablos might have been the “secret ingredient” there, even though they changed a lot of things between his initial concept and the final film.

  • GOATmaybe

    I think I’m gonna enjoy the songs I like and really cringe at the ones I hate. Overall I’m not too interested but I think it could be enjoyable if the writing is good.

  • Bernie Bunuan

    It looks fun and you can tell they just loved synchronizing the characters to all those trendy songs of yesterday.

    You think they can make money animating all the highlights of the Republican debates?

  • Marc Hendry

    man, it’s pretty common for trailers to appear trashier than the actual film, but if this has 85+ songs in it, then clearly this is all the film is going to be. It feels so cold and passionless, like the movie isn’t even about anything. There’s nothing here to care about, which is pretty sad because Illumination clearly have a good crew

  • Stefan Ellison

    Isn’t Eric Guillon the lead character designer on all of Illumination’s films? I think that’s why their films have the same aesthetic and look to them.

  • Steven Bowser

    Am I the only one who’s irritated by Illumination’s films? There’s something about the incessant use of pop songs and celebrities that gets to me. And the way the characters look and move annoys me too.

    But I think what annoys me the most is that I know for a fact this will be a huge hit and all the moms at church will be telling me how “cute” it was. *sigh*

    • Patrice Jean-Baptiste

      I hate that “cute” reasoning so damn much honestly. It’s honestly why these movies keep getting a pass, because it’s celebrities voicing cute animals and ughhh……

      • Steven Bowser

        Some people–a LOT of people– don’t like to think when they watch movies. They just want to turn their brains off and watch something innocent.

        There’s nothing wrong with that neccessarily, and I can sympathize with moms who are just tired and want something entertaining without much weight, but I don’t like it one bit.

    • mechasus

      Illumination is pretty much a polished, more efficient imitator of DreamWorks’ style, but their movies are much more marketable these days, for which I can’t fault them. That doesn’t necessarily make them good movies or the kind of movies we need to see more of in this day and age, though.

      • Steven Bowser

        Yea, I don’t mean to say there’s nothing remarkable about them. From what I understand, they have been able to make incredibly successful movies on a much smaller budget (at least I think that was the case with Despicable Me), so that’s an achievement. I’m just annoyed by their films. They seem like shaking keys in front of a baby.

  • Mashed Potato

    This felt like super rushed, like everything from concepting to post were jammed in a year, just to catch Zootopia’s wave, relying on star power to draw in the crowds.

    • Barrett

      Reminiscent of the “war” between Disney and Dreamworks at the turn of the millennium, when each studio seemed to be trying to get their spin on a similar concept to theaters before the other.

  • Cameron Ward

    i’ m mixed on overall first impressions. the art style is fairly generic looking and i hope this isn’t a Shark Tales kind of thing where they just wanted a bunch of big names and pop songs and thats it.

    Still, I like the voice cast and I do want to see more. Loved the snail singing Ride Like the Wind

  • Victor

    this trailer doesn’t look good at all. If this was a Disney film, the text would be totally bashing it