Sony confirmed today that it will release three animated features this year, the first time a U.S. animation studio has done that since Dreamworks delivered three features in 2014.

Two of the three features have already been much discussed here: Smurfs: The Lost Village and The Emoji Movie. The third, and perhaps most intriguing, project is The Star, marking 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.


Sony, which has had more success than most major studios with faith-based live-action films and even has a faith-based subsidiary, Affirm Films, is attempting to replicate that success in animation with this holiday film. Here is the official synopsis:

A small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a lovable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.

Opening on November 10, the film features an impressive voice cast headlined by Steven Yeun (Bo the donkey), Kelly Clarkson (Leah the horse), Aidy Bryant (Ruth the sheep), Keegan-Michael Key (Dave the dove), 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), with Oprah Winfrey (Deborah), Tyler Perry (Cyrus) and Tracy Morgan (Felix) as the three camels, and Christopher Plummer (King Herod).

Unlike Smurfs and Emoji which feature animation from Sony Imageworks, The Star is being animated by Cinesite Studios. Executive producers are DeVon Franklin (Miracles from Heaven),and Lisa and Brian Henson (The Jim Henson Company), and Jenni Magee Cook produces.

In other news, Sony announced that Sir Patrick Stewart will play Poop in The Emoji Movie. The character was previously named Poop Daddy and voiced by Tom Kane. Jennifer Coolidge, Maya Rudolph, and Jake T. Austin have also signed on to do voices in the film, joining the previously-announced T.J. Miller, James Corden, Steven Wright, and Ilana Glazer.

If Patrick Stewart as excrement isn’t enough to get you into the theater for The Emoji Movie’s August 17 release, Sony also announced today that the film will be preceded by a new short directed by Genndy Tartakovsky entitled Puppy.

From talking dumps to religion, Sony’s 2017 slate is nothing if not eclectic. The studio also has set dates for three other animated films: Hotel Transylvania 3 (September 21, 2018) directed by Genndy Tartakovsky; Untitled Animated Spider-Man (December 21, 2018), directed by Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey; and Vivo (December 18, 2020) directed by Kirk DeMicco with songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda.