Norm of the North

Lionsgate Films, which opens Aardman’s Shaun of the Sheep in U.S. theaters today, has announced a new theatrical animated feature for 2016, Norm of the North.

The strictly-for-the-kiddie-set film stars Rob Schneider (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Saturday Night Live) as Norm, a polar bear who goes to New York City to stop a real estate developer from building condos in the Arctic. Directed by Trevor Wall (a director on the recent CGI series Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch) and produced by Splash Entertainment (formerly Mike Young Productions), the film will be released into theaters on January 15, 2016.

If Lionsgate sticks with that release date, it will debut on the same day as another previously announced kids film — Open Road Films’ The Nut Job 2 — and will saturate the movie market with animal-oriented cartoons ahead of DreamWork’s Kung Fu Panda 3 release, which follows just two weeks later.

Lionsgate, which releases a steady stream of cut-rate kiddie fare to home video, has not had much luck in the theatrical market. Its highest-earning theatrical animation release to date is Alpha and Omega, which grossed $25 million in 2010, while its other theatrical releases — Battle for Terra (2009) and Happily N’Ever After (2007) — have made little impact on the animation world. Of course, Lionsgate is also the company that funded this film, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about their ability to pick cartoon winners.

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