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Feature Film

PREVIEW: 2013 Animated Features

This list of animated features coming out in 2013 focuses primarily on animated films produced by the major Hollywood studios set for release in the U.S. We’ve rounded it out with a few foreign animated movies of note. Stay tuned to Cartoon Brew’s homepage for extensive coverage of foreign and indie animated films throughout the year.

Escape from Planet Earth (2/14/13)
Astronaut Scorch Supernova finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from a notoriously dangerous alien planet.

Director: Callan Brunker
Production Company: Blue Yonder Films
Distributor: Weinstein Company
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brendan Fraser
Film Website

The Croods (3/22/13)
The world’s very first prehistoric family goes on a road trip to an uncharted and fantastical world.

Directors: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Production Company: Dreamworks
Distributor: 20th Century-Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Emma Stone, Nichloas Cage, Ryan Reynolds
Film Website

Epic (5/24/13)
A teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil is taking place.

Directors: Chris Wedge
Production Company: Blue Sky
Distributor: 20th Century-Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Ferrell
Film Website

Monsters University (6/21/13)
A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.

Director: Dan Scanlon
Production Company: Pixar
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi
Film Website

Despicable Me 2 (7/3/13)
Gru, the girls, the unpredictably hilarious minions and a host of new characters return.

Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Production Company: Illumination
Distributor: Universal
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Steve Carrel, Al Pacino, Kristen Wiig.
Film Website

Turbo (7/19/13)
A garden snail with dreams of becoming the fastest snail in the world experiences a freak accident that might just allow him to realize his goal.

Directors: David Soren
Production Company: Dreamworks
Distributor: 20th Century-Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson
Film Website

The Smurfs 2 (7/31/13)
The Smurfs team up with their human friends to rescue Smurfette, who has been kidnapped by Gargamel since she knows a secret spell that can turn the evil sorcerer’s newest creation – creatures called the Naughties – into real Smurfs.

Director: Raja Gosnell
Production Company: Sony Animation
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Technique: Live Action/CG
Voice Cast: Katy Perry, George Lopez, Jonathan Winters
Film Website

Planes (8/9/13)
An animated adventure that follows a young crop-duster named Dusty as he looks to compete in a perilous around-the-world race.

Director: Klay Hall
Production Company: Disneytoon Studios
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Jon Cryer, Carlos Alazraqui
Film Website

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2: Revenge of the Leftovers (9/27/13)
Flint Lockwood now works at The Live Corp Company for his idol Chester V. But he’s forced to leave his post when he learns that his most infamous machine is still operational and is churning out menacing food-animal hybrids.

Directors: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
Production Company: Sony Pictures Animation
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris and Will Forte
Film Website

Free Birds (formerly Turkeys) (11/1/13)

Two turkeys travel back in time to remove turkey from the Thanksgiving holiday menu.

Director: Jimmy Hayward
Production Company: Reel FX
Distributor: Relativity
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, Dan Fogler, Lesley Nicol, George Takei, Colm Meaney, Keith David

Frozen (12/14/13)
A mountain climber and a young girl named Anna journey through snowy peaks and dangerous cliffs to find the legendary Snow Queen and end the perpetual winter prophecy that has fallen over their kingdom.

Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Production Company: Disney Animation Studios
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff
Disney Animation Studios Website

Foreign Films

Metegol “Foosball” (Argentina and Spain)
The film tells the story of Amadeo, a shy but talented boy, and of a foosball team that is trying to get back together after having been dismantled.

Directors: Juan José Campanella
Production Companies: 100 Bares, Catmandú Entertainment, Plural-Jempsa, Antena 3 Films, Canal +, La Sexta
Distributor: Universal Pictures International
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Pablo Rago, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, Fabian Gianola
Official Website

Ernest and Celestine (French)
The story of an unlikely friendship between a bear, Ernest, and a young mouse named Celestine.

Directors: Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner
Production Companies: La Parti Productions, Les Armateurs, Maybe Movies
Distributor: Gkids (in the U.S.)
Technique: Hand-drawn
Voice Cast: Pauline Brunner, Lambert Wilson, Anne-Marie Loop
Les Armateurs Website

The Wind is Rising (Japan)
A look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Production Company: Studio Ghibli
Official Website

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Japan)
A princess named Kaguya is discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant.

Director: Isao Takahata
Production Company: Studio Ghibli
Official Website

  • Jon H

    We really are living in a Golden age of animated features in turn of the sheer amount being released. Quality is debatable, too many sequels for my taste, but still lots of interesting stuff, especially coming from the international scene!

  • D

    So far 2013 is looking well…… for lack of a better term…. Meh! Alot of the Computer Animated stuff this year looks really uninteresting and visually sub par. Just looking through some of the trailers alot of those films look like either second rate riffs off of past successes or phoned in sequels. Of course this is just judging by trailers alone, I’ll save the real criticism for when I actually view some of these films but so far a really uninteresting and banal batch of films.

    On a side note however as Jon H pointed out the international stuff looks rather spirited and top notch. The promo shots alone for the Ghibli films is enough to rouse my interest, its also nice to see one Ghibli film embracing that quintessential Ghibli style and the other by Takahata going in a very different visual direction. I saw Ernest and Celestine at TIFF with my young cousins it was rather good for a kids film and the animation was fluid and picturesque.

    In summation 2013 for North American animation looks like probably the most half-assed crop out of the past decade, though I am hopeful some of them will make me eat those words (Turbo in particular looks half decent). As for the international realm as always some rather artistically sound and interesting films to look forward to.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      It’s sad when it seems like the most interesting films to come out next year are outside this country at all.

      • Which country at all?

        • Chris Sobieniak

          United States (just to answer you)

          • I kind of guessed (-the rest of the world)

  • Joe

    I have to say in a world where movie sequels and reboots are the norm, it’s refreshing to see so many original animated features. Sure there are a fair share of sequels and spin-offs, but if you look at the ratio of original to sequel/reboot/spin-off, 2013 is looking to be an interesting and fun year with animation. It is sad to see that there are no stop-motion films, while 2012 had 3.
    And if any of you have the chance, see Ernest and Celestine! I saw it in late 2012 and found it completely charming.

    • Sarah J

      That’s one reason I REALLY want The Croods to be a good movie. I want to be able to support the movie so studios can get the message that original stories = good. Granted, I’ve got nothing against sequels or adaptations in general, it’s just disheartening when nearly every movie coming out is a sequel or adaptation.

  • Lauren

    Too bad foreign films barely receive any attention: they look as pretty as a hand written letter, but will probably never reach my door.

    (I’m sorry, that was the cheesiest simile ever)

    • Thom

      funny the two foreign films only receive my attention

  • Anthony

    Ernest and Celestine is one of the most beautiful animated films I have ever seen. It truly is a must see!

  • I’m looking forward to seeing how Mr. Peabody and Sherman turns out. I loved that show as a kid.

  • wever

    …oh yeah. There are HAND-DRAWN films too. …you know, looking solely at the AMERICAN ones, I would never have guessed!!! >:

  • Nic

    I didn’t realize that the voice of the father Caveman character was Nicholas Cage. That explains why the speech patterns seemed a bit strange.

    This should be an exciting coming year!

  • DisturbedAnimator

    It’s rather sad that a Japanese world war 2 film is the most interesting , Grandpa will be so proud of me.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I still question the unlikelihood that this film will ever get a home video release stateside.

      • Sarah J

        Disney’s usually pretty good about releasing the Ghibli films. If they released Pom Poko, they’ll release this.

        • Chris Sobieniak

          I still want my Only Yesterday!

          • Genaro Prieto

            Me too.

          • apparently Disney wont dub only yesterday because they are not allowed to remove whole scenes, and they want to remove all the references to Menstruation. Period blood being mentioned in non graphic ways is apparently more frightening and unwholesome than all the violence in Mononoke??

  • SKent.

    Dreamworks, Pixar, Blue Sky, Disney. Reliable as ever (unlike the rest of the world). It is all getting a bit samey though. Moreso than those of 2012.

    I keep waiting for a different sensibility, a different aesthetic, a different approach to telling a story. We’ll see.

    Ernest & Célestine looks good.

    • Matthew Koh

      You mean you’re waiting for someone to break the mold?

  • Personally, I’m looking forward to all of them… maybe more than others, but I like to reserve judgement until I see the film itself.

    But this is what’s bothering me… I tend to wonder if the technical mastery of CGI animation has grown to the point that artistry is being lost.

    “Planes” looks incredible, but much of this trailer is indistinguishable from reality. A technical masterpiece, but doesn’t this contradict the purpose of animation in the first place in which we can interpret and manufacture new realities instead of simply representing the one we’re in.

    Mind you, I’m not trying to harp against CGI technology at all. I saw the trailers to “Croods” and “Epic” in the theater, and they were both breathtaking. But I find myself most eager to see “Ernest and Celestine” because already the relationship I see forming between these two characters is just as compelling as the visual beauty of the 3D stuff. And I can’t help but think that most viewers… including children… feel the same way. My four year old daughter has been watching clunky, old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials every day the past month and soaking them in.

    I think it’s going to be a long time before a non-CGI animated feature is produced for wide release in this country again. And I think that’s a real shame because regardless of the art form, if we restrict the artists to a single technique then we also stifle their creativity. And then we all lose out.

    • Charlotte

      In terms of non-CGI stuff, Laika will probably have another stop-motion picture out within the next few years.

      It would be nice if America made traditionally animated features a little more often. I mean, I like CGI, but I’d rather have a good mix of different types of animation than have one type dominate for most of the year. Disney might have something in the works I guess. I kind of wish Dreamworks would make a traditionally animated movie again, I loved El Dorado and Prince of Egypt when I was a kid.

  • Alle

    Here another Feature FIlm by Kandor Graphic studio in Spain:
    “Justin and the Knight of Valour”

  • Dave

    Chris Sullivan’s CONSUMING SPIRITS just had its theatrical premiere at NY’s Film Forum at the end of 2012 and should be getting more dates as 2013 progresses. Brilliant, 15-years-in-the-making independent animated film using just about everything non-digital technique.

  • JM

    To me the sequels are not intesting at all.
    On the NorthAmerican releases I’m excited to see what Disney does with another classic Christian Andersen tale like the snow queen.
    And we are really excited about METEGOL I saw a full trailer and it looks really refreshing, a different type of humor and storytelling coming from LatinAmerica!!.

  • GKids is also releasing A Letter to Momo (as well as expanding their 2012 Oscar submissions). And FUNimation is going to be releasing Mamoru Hosoda’s Wolf Children (my most anticipated animated feature, outside of the Ghibli ones which probably won’t see a US release for another year or so).

  • MechaBug

    So “Song of the Sea” was delayed to April 2014 after all.
    My reaction:

    My other reaction:

  • Genaro Prieto

    Summer 2013 = Summer of Ghibli. Awesome

  • Moonie

    Is Song of the Sea definitely pushed to 2014? It seems like they were really pushing to release it this year.

    • MechaBug

      Well, Cartoon Saloon themselves said so right here:

      I just hope we get a trailer for the actual movie sometime soon. And that someone will distribute it for USA, like GKids or Warner Bros or Universal or someone.

      • MechaBug

        Or there’s the very rare chance that it will actually be done and ready for the film festivals by sometime later this year.

  • Tom T.

    Dorothy of Oz ? Haven’t heard much about it though.

    Directors: Dan St. Pierre, Will Finn
    Production Company: Summertime Entertainment
    Technique: CG
    Voice Cast: Lea Michele, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, Kelsey Grammer

  • Walt

    The foreign films are more appealing to me.

  • Paul Poutre

    CG, CG, CG, CG, CG… yawn.
    I know these numerous computer-generated movies will be quite different in quality and that some of them will be very good (I am not anti-CG, having enjoyed many films made this way), but how come there are so many of them, and most of all : how come so much of them look alike ?!
    Am I the only one to be shocked by the graphical Homogenization CG has brought to animated movies ? This cartoony but with super bright and “realistic” textures/light style that Pixar has developed brilliantly and has been copied everywhere, often with less talent?
    It’s effective, it makes sense production-wise, but where’s the originality ? What happended to researching a graphic universe AND a graphic style to match a storyline? There are so many other possibilities with animation, but nowadays they only seem explored in short films or on “specialized” TV programs.
    Doesn’t anybody have the backbone to finance something slightly different? Do producers really think people will run away if something looks original? What I don’t understand is that when you enter a library and look at children’s books there’s an amazing graphical variety, with numerous talented illustrators telling stories in many different styles, and people love that. So why can’t there be more films such as Ernest & Célestine ?
    Thank god (or rather, thanks Europe & Japan) there are still a few hand-drawn movies made, but looking at this 2013 preview list I feel CG has brought an extraordinary laziness : it seems all CG films, even if they can be very different in design, have a similar final aspect – because of the common tools that are used.
    And you know what ? This style now seems to affect event stop-motion films : both Frankenweenie and Paranorman, which I both loved, have a design and a look that’s so slick, shiny and clean that they at times look like CG movies too!
    But hey, happy new year to everyone, and I’m still counting on cartoon Brew to keep us posted on the best stuff around – CG or not.

    • Polecat

      I’m so tired of how “smooth” CG makes everything look. A lot of these productions seem to have no real eye for detail at all. I think one reason I enjoyed Frankenweenie so much is because of Tim Burton’s unconventional, rough and slightly scratchy style.

      Something about CG overload makes me feel like I’m an older kid who’s stuck in the preschool department of a toy store. The characters are puffy, rounded, safe, brightly colored, and contain no small parts that you can choke on. I’ll probably go for Monsters University, but I can’t be bothered with much of the CG glut.

    • Mike K

      That’s like saying “movies,movies, movies, movies…yawn. Yes some will not be good, and some will

  • Yann Aubert

    I have seen Ernest et Célestine few months ago and have the opportunity to speak with the director.
    They really care about details and spend much time on it and the result is really good.
    Also noticed the felicitous music.

  • Paul Poutre

    An I forgot Jerry, maybe you’re only listing films with available trailers but otherwise you can add to the list :
    THE CONGRESS, the new animated sci-fi project by Ari “Waltz with Bashir” Folman, which is in post-production and will certainly come out in 2013 (and maybe earn a slot at Cannes).

  • For some reason I kind of have more interest in Cloudy 2 more, even if I thought that movie didn’t really need a sequel in the first place. Maybe it’s cause I’m not especially excited about many of the others.

    I thought the first thirty minutes of Cloudy were my favourite CGI animated movie ever, though I didn’t quite like some of the twists that came after that. Still, I really like it and I think it’s the only CGI movie that’s cartoony both in the characters and the backgrounds.

    I’m interested on The Croods too, everything with Chris Sanders in it deserves to be watched. And I guess Monsters University has some potential too, at least I think it’s a more imaginative way to use the same characters instead of just giving us M.U. 2. If Cloudy’s first thirty minutes were my fave part of a CGI movie ever, Monsters Inc. may be my fave one on the whole because of the script. It’s the funniest movie Pixar has ever done, but it also had hearth. The others have less comedy in it.

    Frozen may be good too and I’m interested in Mr. Peabody and Sherman but I think I’ll be disappointed. I’m already conflicted about the character designs and the synopsis.

    Epic and Turbo look more ok than exciting but I’ll probably watch them.

    Hand animated ones look interesting.

    The ones I didn’t mention…I think I’ll skip them.

  • Glowworm

    Ernest and Celestine looks absolutely adorable. I was giggling way too much during that trailer. It probably won’t reach the U.S. nationally though, much like A Monster In Paris–which I still want to see…

    Had absolutely no idea about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

    • Paranorman

      I agree with you. It is adorable and i will definitely see it! :)

  • tlc

    A trailer for Ernest and Celestine

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I can tell I’m going to love this film!

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    The Miyazaki feature sounds pretty uncoventional.

    What are the odds the Peabody & Sherman movie will have some toilet humor . I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it has them (accidently) causing the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah!

  • d. harry
  • Paranorman

    Escape From Planet Earth looks mediocre and pretty uninteresting and as for Dreamworks, it is nice that they are releasing three films this year, but i don’t think any of those will be a classic or really good at least. The Smurfs 2 and Planes don’t even deserve to be talked about. Epic looks OK and as for Disney’s Frozen, i have too see a trailer to judge. I am particularly excited for Studio Ghibli this year, because they are releasing two films and both of them looks interesting. Monsters University is going to be a good film, judging by a trailer. And the trailer for Despicable Me is hillarious! Let’s hope the actual movie will be the same.

  • Jow

    First, watch this: Foodfight: The Movie

    This will make you feel more grateful for this year’s crop of movies.

    (P.S. I’m mainly posting this for closure purposes. If you’ve read Cartoon Brew since it’s launch, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

  • Pedro Nakama

    Monsters University is going to show all of the pranks that the animators did while at Cal Arts. So on Halloween somebody’s going to spike the punch bowl with acid.

  • Skip

    Films that I’m looking forward to most out of this list are. Monsters University, Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs 2, Despicable Me 2 and Frozen.

    Films that I plan to avoid from this list are. Planes, Turbo, Escape from Planet Earth, and Smurfs 2

    As for the other films on this list. I will need to see more.

  • Sarah J

    Can’t say I’m exactly psyched for most of the movies. I’m really excited for the two Ghibli movies, Ghibli is consistently awesome. I’m keeping an eye on The Croods, I’m going to be cautiously optimistic. I REALLY want it to be good but I don’t wanna get my hopes up.

    I’d probably be looking forward to Frozen more if there was some more information on the film released. Monsters University might be good, considering Pixar’s track record, but I can’t say I ever watched Monsters Inc. and said “This needs a prequel!”. Especially one that takes place in a college. But maybe Pixar will do it well, they’re pretty good at making awesome movies out of weird or silly premises. I really want to like Epic, but the stupid title and annoying slugs really make me grind my teeth.

    So, this year it doesn’t look like there are a whole lot of animated movies I’ll just run out and see on the first day. (unless I can get that job at the movie theater, in which case, I could see all the movies for free. Oh, me and my dreams…) Most likely I’ll monitor reviews and Rotten Tomato scores to decide what I’ll see.

  • Of the US set:
    -EPIC and CROODS look interesting.
    -I’m looking forward mostly to DESPICABLE ME 2 (I enjoyed the first) and MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (which looks more faithful to its source material than most adaptations of this type; I’m looking especially at you, UNDERDOG!). Otherwise, some of the films look like they could surprise me, most are remarkably bland and generic.

    Indeed, most of the foreign films look more charming overall! ERNEST AND CELESTINE is really cute (I would love to see it!), and I’m sure Studio Ghibli will turn up something of high quality with their two upcoming films.

  • Seth

    Only two words: HAYAO MIYAZAKI!!!!

  • Mr. Peabody and Sherman – looks like a rip off of Jimmy neutron which was a feature film and then a tv show way back at the start of CG films as was released alongside iceage 1

    • Max

      The original characters arrived decades before Jimmy Neutron.

  • Crap-tacular

    Aside from the Croods…..Looks like a pretty uninspired offering from Dreamworks in 2013….

    Why not make ONE good film per year instead of THREE CRAPPY ones?

    Is this Katzenberg’s “One of them might work” strategy?

  • Micki

    The main films I look forward to are the Monsters prequel and Despicable Me 2. Though many of they other movies look interesting, I still wonder if they’ll be a hit or a possible bomb. 2013 seems good entertainment wise so far so we shall see!

  • Polecat

    Ernest and Celestine looks really cute. And it’s made by the same guys who did A Town Called Panic!!! :D

    As for Mr. Peabody and Sherman, I think they should just leave those two alone. They looked just fine in 2-D. Why mess with a good thing? Didn’t they learn their lesson from the 2001 Rocky & Bullwinkle movie?

  • Max

    What an incredibly generic year this is going to be in terms of Hollywood animation. Though there looks to be some promising outcome, it’s basically another example of kids and money mattering the most. Kids are stupid! They don’t want to see thick lines or realistic animation without motion blurs! They want out-of-the-blue dance numbers, slapstick and crudity! In 3D, no less!

    Hopefully, next year will be a little different. Who knows? If The Goon does get made at any time then we could hopefully take a rest from Hollywood’s constant abuse of CGI. By the way, I have seen Ernest and Celestine, and it was the best animated film of 2012.

  • Polecat

    You know, I just realized that “Epic” looks a little bit like someone decided to plagiar–I mean, pay homage to the plot of “Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest.”

  • Thom

    all right 2 ghiblies, a cute bear and mouse and some other crap

  • Dave

    This looks like a very depressing year for animated films.

  • Tom

    Well everything outside of MI seems only slighty interesting. But you know, prequel to childhood favourite Monsters Inc balances it all out.

  • MattMan

    After corresponding with 108 Media, Leafie, a Hen Into the Wild (Korea) should be getting a North American theatrical release sometime around Spring 2013.

  • D’love

    Mr. Peabody and Sherman FTW
    Ernest and Celestine 2nd
    Is traditional animation officially dead in America?

  • Deeandbuddy

    Dorothy of oz

  • Taylor Vassell

    Where’s DBZ Battle of Gods?