Fox Animation released new details this week about Spies in Disguise, the Blue Sky Studios film that will follow its soon-to-be-released Ferdinand.

The film is based on Lucas Martell’s 2009 short Pigeon: Impossible. Martell has said that the independently produced film, about a spy who has to deal with a pigeon in his nuclear briefcase, was “really just an excuse to learn 3D animation.” The film found a following after Martell posted the film on Youtube, and was subsequently optioned by Fox.

Independent animated shorts are increasingly becoming a source of inspiration for Hollywood feature film producers. For example, Illumination Entertainment signed a first-look deal with Korea’s Mofac Alfred based on the success of their online film, Johnny Express.

Fox itself is developing multiple shorts into feature-length projects, among them the Oscar-nominated short The Dam Keeper and Kameron Gates’ A Tale of Momentum & Inertia. Meanwhile, the Sony/Columbia bomb Pixels was based on a 2010 viral short of the same name by French director Patrick Jean, while The Nut Job franchise was inspired by the 2005 short Surly Squirrel, directed by Peter Lepeniotis, who also directed the first feature.

Spies in Disguise is positioned as a buddy comedy starring the suave spy Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith) who relies on gadgets created by socially-inept inventor Walter (Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Tom Holland). According to the studio’s plot synopsis, “When events take an unexpected turn, Walter and Lance suddenly have to rely on each other in a whole new way. And if this odd couple can’t learn to work as a team, the whole world is in peril.”

Spies in Disguise is directed by animators Nick Bruno and Troy Quane. It will be the first feature directing credit for both. Chernin Entertainment is producing along with Fox and Blue Sky.

The film is set to open in the U.S. on January 18, 2019.

Latest News from Cartoon Brew