thestar_trailer thestar_trailer
Feature Film

Sony Repents For ‘The Emoji Movie,’ Releases Trailer For Religious Film ‘The Star’

Sony Pictures Animation is pivoting from Poop to Jesus Christ for its next animated feature, The Star, a story about the first Christmas, told from the point of view of the animals.

The Star is the story of a donkey named Bo, who breaks free from the village mill and goes on an adventure with Ruth, a sheep, and Dave, a dove, as they somehow get mixed up in the nativity of Jesus. The studio released a trailer for the film today:

There are a couple significant differences between The Star and Sony’s first two releases of 2017 — Smurfs: The Lost Village and The Emoji Movie. First, the film wasn’t animated by Sony Imageworks, but by Cinesite in Montreal. Second, the film was made for a fraction of the budget on a typical Sony animation production; reports have claimed Star’s budget is $18 million compared to $50-70 million for films like Emoji, Smurfs, and the Hotel Transylvania series.

The smaller budget takes into account that this is a niche film for America’s religious audiences and likely won’t play well (or even open) in many foreign countries. The low-budget religion formula has worked well for Sony in recent years, and the studio has scored hits with films that many in the general public have never heard of, like Miracles from Heaven, Heaven is For Real, and War Room.

The Star marks the feature directorial debut of Timothy Reckart, who earned an Oscar nom for his graduation short Head Over Heels. Reckart directs from a script by Carlos Kotkin (Open Season: Scared Silly, Rio 2) and Simon Moore. The film is executive produced by DeVon Franklin, a former Columbia Pictures executive who also happens to be a Seventh-day Adventist preacher, and the Henson Co.’s Lisa and Brian Henson.

Voices for the film include Steven Yeun (Bo the donkey), Kelly Clarkson (Leah the horse), Aidy Bryant (Ruth the sheep), Keegan-Michael Key (Dave the dove), Patricia Heaton (Edith the cow), Kristin Chenoweth (Mouse), Anthony Anderson (Zach the goat), Gabriel Iglesias (Rufus the dog), Ving Rhames (Thaddeus the dog), Delilah Rene (Elizabeth), Kris Kristofferson (Old Donkey), Gina Rodriguez (Mary), Zachary Levi (Joseph), and Christopher Plummer (King Herod). Tyler Perry, Tracy Morgan, and Oprah Winfrey voice camels.

The Star will open in U.S. theaters on November 10.

  • Josh Evans

    Looks cute! Then again, I’m biased, my wife is working on the movie as I type this. XD

    • RhMTeo

      its looks like Sony Animation has out of ideas…

      • Josh Evans

        We don’t work client side, so we can’t really help you out there. XD

    • JodyMorgan

      I’d like to thank your wife and her co-workers, then, as the animation does look good. I’ll keep an eye out for this one come November.

    • Inkan1969

      I hope things go well for your wife.

  • I’m really liking the results despite its $18 million budget. As long as the animators aren’t slaved to death like with Sausage Party, I can let this movie rest easy.

  • Metlow Rovenstein

    If Sony truly wants to repent for The Emoji Movie, then why the fuck haven’t they burned all copies of the thing and take a financial hit? Sense, this does not make.

  • Elsi Pote

    Ok, so you asked for a Christmas story with a donkey? Here you go:
    https://youtu.be/EZvjUXqNPrM

    And you are welcome for saving you some dollars there. Consider give money to a charity of your choice or your local food bank to make a positive change in your community.

    • JodyMorgan

      There’s also “The Little Brown Burro” (aka “The Christmas Burro”), narrated by Lorne Greene, which came out the same year (1978); “Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey” came out just a year earlier. Odd to have three animated short films on the same subject within two years.

      • Inkan1969

        Hey, thanks. For decades I’ve been trying to find out the name of “The Little Brown Burro”.

    • Wouldn’t be the only other time a film was made involving animals witnessing their first Christmas…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WklZVt9hkUc

      • Andrew Kieswetter

        Let’s not forget Rankin/Bass’ ‘Little Drummer Boy’ tv special.

  • David Alin

    Damn I though they were really repenting XD

  • Andres Molina

    My god, to be very honest, I’m have mixed feelings with this film, yet at the same time, shocked by what I’m seeing when considering the budget.

    First off, its quite impressive to see such nice-looking visual with such a micro budget of only $18 million. Animation has truly gone a long way, and to see animation this good at such a small budget is a remarkable achievement of it’s own. If the film ends up making a huge profit, it could help kickstart a new trend of mainstream animation with micro budgets of $15-30 million, and its even more impressive with budget with even the fact that there are so many celebrities in the film, meaning had they used a bunch of smaller profile, or unknown actors, the budget would even dip to something as low as $12 million.

    As for the film itself, I have very mixed feelings. first, Sony Pictures Animation is making the film, and assuming The Emoji Movie bombs horribly, it can reflect on the film’s quality. And the over focus on the celebrities rather than the story itself makes it look more like a pop-centric trendy fest rather than a sweeping genuine film, but again, thats just based on the marketing film. As far as I’m concerned, we’ll just have to wait and see how the film turns out.

  • mashed potato

    Considering how prolific Veggie Tales is, no doubt this has an audience. That said, I will accept nothing less than Sony commissioning a Pirates! sequel with all the claymation trimmings as proper repentance for the emoji travesty.

    • neptune432

      Didn’t Veggie Tales have good writing though? It was better than what I’m seeing here at least. Then again, for some Christians it’s more about seeing something with their kids that sends a message they like.

  • HalSolo

    This is actually more offensive to every fibre of my being than the blatant cash grab of THE EMOJIMOVIE.

    • Inkan1969

      I noticed that every single poster at the youtube site hates this movie.

  • Anonymous

    Remember the trailer for Polar Express? A non-religious Christmas movie with religious music. This is a religious Christmas movie with non-religious music.

    Still proving my point that animation marketing is still very second string.

    • Inkan1969

      Well, “Polar Express” had very strong religious overtones with its heavy emphasis on “believing”.

  • Cameron Ward

    This just doesn’t look good. It might just be a bad trailer (which happens a lot), but their focus on the animal shenanigans is not the right way to market this film. I get they have to show off the celebrities who are playing the animals, but when I heard about this, I was sort of expecting something less….silly I guess? idk, in general, the animation looks better than most films with that small of a budget, but i’m sure a good chunk went into getting all of those celebrities.

  • Looks like most of the budget was spend on getting the voice actors.

    • Jeremiah

      Yeah, the animation is so cheap.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    As far as foreign countries go,it’ll open in places like Europe,Australia,and South America,but not China or the Middle East.

  • Kyle_Maloney

    Looks surprisingly good. Only nitpick I have is the cheap looking fur. Humor seems better than I would expect from this.

  • Mary

    So does this mean The Star is sort of an apology film for The Emoji Movie (and possibly Smurfs: Lost Village)? I’m a little confused. I’ve seen at least two articles saying it’s expected to be #1 at the box office and no where did i see any regret from Sony. Sony seems optimistic about The Emoji Movie to me.

    • Josh Evans

      Pretty sure the article title is just being witty.

    • Inkan1969

      Up to today, there were no reviews for “Emoji” at all at Rotten Tomatoes. So I assumed they refused to send advanced previews to critics. Just this instant, though, I went to RT and finally found reviews, 16 of them, all bad.

      “Emoji” IS going to get release in over 4000 theaters in the US/Canada. So it’s a serious release unlike the pathetic release for “Spark: a Space Tale”. But I’m fully certain that this movie won’t reach $15M at the US/Can boxoffice. Maybe not even $10M. But I don’t know how much this movie cost, so I don’t know if that will be a flop.

  • Max C.

    This and Ferdinand are among the last two American animated features being released in the UK this year (blame Paddington), so we have no original Pixar movies scheduled before 2018 but we get to celebrate 2017’s dawn with this instead?!

  • Fluffydips

    “Repent” eh? Looks even worse than Emoji Movie but alright.

  • andreas wessel-therhorn

    yikes.don’t have anything, per se, against a religious movie, but the humor seems as infantile as so many other recent cgi movies.I’ll stick with The small One, even though that one isn’t a great short

  • Glowworm

    Don’t look at me for my thoughts on this one–I’m Jewish! XD!
    Truthfully though, I think there are FAR too many celebrity voices for this thing…

  • Maggie

    Annnnd everyone already hates it. That was fast.

  • Inkan1969

    My goodness. When i saw that still, I really thought it was from the upcoming “Shrek”: movie.

  • Jeremiah

    Cliche 1: animals whining about their masters. Cliche 2: an animal trying to talk to humans, but ha ha, they can’t talk to humans! Cliche 3: Do a distraction! Cliche 4: dancing (ugh) 5: wagging butt. (Wow, those last three were in just 15 seconds). Conclusion: Sony, go give King Herod a raspberry.

  • Linda Stover

    If Sony really wanted to repent for putting out “The Emoji Movie” they’d recall all the copies, repay all the people that paid money for it and promise to never again cancel an animated movie like Popeye in favor of whatever this was supposed to be.

  • Trevor Keen

    Hackneyed idea, and as the comments show, been done a dozen times already. Now, how about a Christmas movie from the POV of King Herod? Now THAT would be original.

  • TalonsofIceandFire

    I did find the concept of The Star somewhat intriguing even it was very similar to The Small One. But yeah, this trailer really does paint it as pretty bad. Also the animation really reminds me of The Wild Life. Which isn’t a good thing.