In a year crowded with an unusually large number of animated features starring animals, Warner Bros. has its work cut out with its new film Storks, which will launch in the U.S. on September 23. Extensive clips from the film were shown publicly for the first time in Annecy last week, and this new trailer was released around the same time:

Co-directed by Pixar veteran Doug Sweetland (Presto) and Nicholas Stoller (director of Neighbors, Get Him to the Greek, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall), the latter of whom also wrote the script, Storks is a modern-day twist on the mythologic concept of storks delivering babies.

Art and animation in the trailer look solid if uninspired, but the trailer does little to make a viewer interested in the idea or the characters. Not going to be harsh on the film itself, because one never knows if it’s simply bad editing on the studio’s part or something else, but this is a weak trailer that can’t decide what kind of a film it’s selling. The humor is perplexing and all over the map, and whoever decided that it was a good idea to introduce around 20 characters in a two-and-a-half-minute promo is nuts.

Working in Storks’ favor is its September launch date. September has been a good slot for Sony, and in the past few years they’ve successfully launched Hotel Transylvania 2 and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 during that month. Warner Bros. might be able to do the same with Storks, especially with no other major studio animation releases during the month this year.

Looking past Storks, Warner Animation Group [WAG], which is being run by a creative ‘think tank’, is ramping up their feature animation program in a big way. They’ve got at least five other films in the pipeline including The Lego Batman Movie (February 10, 2017); Lego Ninjago (September 22, 2017); Smallfoot (spring 2018), a flip on the mythological Yeti, in which the creature becomes convinced that humans exist; The Lego Movie Sequel; and the Hanna-Barbera reboot S.C.O.O.B..

The goal of WAG is “to borrow on Warner Bros. legacy and its history of animation and also on their tone and feel,” Christopher deFaria, Warner Bros. Pictures’ president of animation, digital production, and vfx, is quoted as saying in Variety. “That was the biggest accomplishment of The Lego Movie. It felt like a Warner Bros. movie, distilling and channeling Looney Tunes and the sensibility the studio was famous for. It gives us a place to distinguish ourselves in what is otherwise a very crowded marketplace of incredible quality films.”

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