Animation Scoop – Animated News, Reviews and Commentary

TRAILER: “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature”

Surly Squirrel (Will Arnett) and his ragtag group of animal friends band together to save their home and take back their park in The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature. This American-Canadian-Korean 3D computer-animated feature is directed by Cal Brunker and written by Brunker, Bob Barlen and Scott Bindley. It is a sequel to 2014’s The Nut Job – and is scheduled to be released theatrically on August 18th, 2017, by Open Road Films. Here’s our fist look:

ANNIE AWARDS: Slate of Presenters Announced

Saturday, February 4th will mark the 44th Annual Annie Awards recognizing the year’s best in animation. This year’s slate of presenters include: actress Jenna Elfman; animator and film director, Patrick Osborne; Auli’l Cravalho (Moana), animator, author an illustrator, Glen Keane; actor and comedian, Tom Kenny; animator, film director and voice actor, Eric Goldberg; and actor, director, James Hong. If you can’t make it to the theater, please watch the Annie Awards live starting at 7 p.m. PST on Saturday, Feb. 4 Right HERE.

“The run up to the Annie Awards is always exciting,” remarked ASIFA-Hollywood Executive Director, Frank Gladstone. “As the voting process concludes and ceremony preparations go into the final stage, the anticipation really builds for the big reveals. 2016 saw a wide variety and sheer number of projects. It was a banner year for animation, and it looks like it will be a banner year for the Annies as well.”

Jenna Elfman and Bugs Bunny

GLAS Animation Signal Film by Albert Omoss

The 2nd Annual GLAS Animation Festival in Berkeley California is fast approaching (it’s March 2nd-5th, 2017) and competition selections, curated programs, special guests, and the complete festival schedule will soon be announced. In the meantime, the absolutely dazzling 2017 GLAS signal film – directed by Albert Omoss, featuring music by San Diego based duo Pal & Drome – was released today:

Asifa Hollywood & Animation Educators Forum Accepting Applications for 2017 Faculty Grants

ASIFA-Hollywood and the Animation Educators Forum (AEF) announce they are accepting applications for the 2017 Faculty Grant program. The Faculty Grant program is designed to provide support for individuals or groups with reasonable expenditures associated with research, scholarly activity or creative projects in the field of animation. Deadline to apply is Monday, February 6 at 12:00 p.m.

“I am so thrilled that ASIFA Hollywood’s board of directors has allocated funding for these faculty grants,” said Aubry Mintz, AEF chairman. “The faculty grants are open to animation faculty around the world to help with their creative, scholarly and research initiatives. The AEF steering committee was proud to offer scholarships to students in the past, and now that we are able to help out our fellow animation faculty, it’s the icing on the cake.”

When Was the Last Time a Western Animated Film Explored Interpersonal Relationships?

This just popped into my head earlier today: Western films tend to reflect the struggle of the individual. Eastern films in contrast are more likely to use interpersonal relationships as a foundation for the story. There’s a marked difference, and its one that could really enliven western animated filmmaking.

There’s no doubt that many western animated films’ style of story don’t stray very far from established norms. It’s usually one (or two at the most) characters overcoming adversity to accomplish a goal, or solve their problem. Woody trying to get back to Andy, Moana trying find Maui and save her village, Alice travelling through Wonderland, etc.

Director Henry Yu Talks “Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania”

The animated sequel to Sony Pictures Animation’s Surf’s Up, the 2007 Oscar animated comedy about surfing penguins, will be released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment next Tuesday. Genndy Tartakovsky’s protégé Henry Yu (story artist on Sym-Bionic Titan and both Hotel Transylvania feature films) makes his directorial debut with this project, which is produced by Michelle Wong (production manager on Hotel Transylvania 2) and features computer animation from Rainmaker Entertainment Inc.

So as its been 10 years, I spoke with Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania director Yu about the challenges – and thrills – that came with making this “Superstar” sequel.

Jackson Murphy: This is the sequel to 2007’s “Surf’s Up”, which was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award. And it’s a great film – I’ve watched it several times over the years. So why, after nearly a decade, was the decision made to greenlight a sequel – and center it around WWE Superstars?

Henry Yu: The WWE is always interested in expanding their brand and bringing in a new generation of audiences. They actually came to us looking for a project that would fit their brand. And they saw “Surf’s Up”, and they thought, “You know what? It’s got a really fun vibe. It’s really light-hearted. It’s got a lot of goofy, cartoony fun.” It’s about surfing – it’s about sports. So we thought it was a natural fit.

FIRST LOOK: Ghibli’s Amazon Series “Ronja the Robber’s Daughter”

Amazon announced the launch date for Ronja the Robber’s Daughter. This is the new epic new series directed by Goro Miyazaki, animated by Polygon Pictures and co-produced by Studio Ghibli, based on Astrid Lindgren’s classic novel. It will start streaming on January 27th.

The English adaptation was produced by David Freedman in London with a mostly British cast – with top British talent including the legendary Adrian Edmonson (The Young Ones, Star Wars) Rufus Hound, Gillian Anderson and an odd cameo by Swampy Marsh of Phineas & Ferb. Take a look:

PGA Nominates Producers of Disney Trio, Kubo and Pets

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today the motion picture nominations for the 28th Annual Producers Guild Awards. In the category of Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

· Finding Dory – Producer: Lindsey Collins

· Kubo and the Two Strings – Producers: Arianne Sutner, Travis Knight

· Moana – Producer: Osnat Shurer

· The Secret Life of Pets – Producers: Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy

· Zootopia – Producer: Clark Spencer

ANIME REVIEW: Studio Ghibli’s “Ocean Waves”

Ocean Waves (Umi ga Kikoeru), sometimes translated as “I Can Hear the Sea” (1993), is Studio Ghibli‘s only TV special. A modest work that’s closer in scope and tone to Whisper of the Heart or From Up on Poppy Hill than to the fragile poetry of The Tale of Princess Kaguya or the grand adventures of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, Ocean Waves was the first Ghibli film not directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. Rarely seen outside of Japan, it was designed to offer the younger staff members a chance to make a smaller film on a more limited budget.

Told through a series of interlocking flashbacks, the story centers on an awkward high school romantic triangle. Although they’re in different classes, Taku Morisaku (voice by Nobuo Tobita) and Yutaka Matsuno (Toshiko Seki) have been best friends for years. Complications arise when Rikako Muto (Youko Sakamoto) transfers from Tokyo to their school in Kochi, a small city in southern Shikoku.

INTERVIEW: Disney Producers Discuss “Mickey and the Roadster Racers”

A decade after Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Disney is re-vamping its most iconic characters in the new Disney Junior series Mickey and the Roadster Racers, premiering this Sunday, Jan. 15th at 9am. I spoke with producers Mark Seidenberg and Rob LaDuca about the revved-up show, including getting inspiration (and a character) from one of the most famous car aficionados of all-time.

Jackson Murphy: I went to the Fathom Events special preview in November. I was in a theater of 300 kids, parents and grandparents, and everyone loved the whole experience.

Mark Seidenberg: I love to hear that.

Rob LaDuca: Same with the theater we went to. All the kids were jumping up and down. They oohed and awed and laughing just where we hoped.

Mark Seidenberg, Executive Producer, “Mickey and Roadster Racers” and Rob LaDuca, Executive Producer, “Mickey and Roadster Racers.” (Disney Junior/Craig Sjodin)



Top 15 Leading Contenders For Annie and Academy Awards (in order of release)

1. KUNG FU PANDA 3 (1/29/16) Dreamworks/20th Century-Fox. D: Jennifer Yuh Nelson; Co-Director: Allesandro Carloni.

2. ZOOTOPIA (3/4/16) Disney. D: Byron Howard, Rich Moore.

3. FINDING DORY (6/17/16) Disney/Pixar. D: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane.

4. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (7/8/16) Universal (Illumination). D: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney.

5. THE LITTLE PRINCE (8/5/16) Netflix. D: Mark Osborne.

6. SAUSAGE PARTY (8/12/16) Sony. Sony. D: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon.

7. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS Focus/Laika. (8/19/16) D: Travis Knight.

8. LONG WAY NORTH (9/30/16) Shout Factory. D: Rémi Chayé.

9. MISS HOKUSAI (10/14/16) GKids. (anime) D: Keiichi Hara.

10. TROLLS (11/4/16) Dreamworks – 20th Century-Fox. D: Mike Mitchell.

11. MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI (11/11/16) GKids. D: Claude Barras. (also submitted by Switzerland as its official nominee for Best Foreign Film, 2016)

12. THE RED TURTLE (11/18/16) Sony Pictures Classics. D: Michaël Dudok de Wit

13. MOANA (11/23/16) Disney. D: Ron Clements, John Musker.

14. YOUR NAME (12/2/16) Funimation. D: Makoto Shinka.

15. SING (12/21/16) Universal (Illumination). D: Garth Jennings.


Checklist of Animated Features Slated for U.S. Release for 2017

1. YU-GI-OH! DARK SIDE OF DIMENSIONS (1/27/16) Screen Vision Media. D: Satoshi Kuwabara.

2. THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2/10/17) Warner Bros. D: Chris McCay.

3. ROCK DOG (2/26/17) Summit. D: Ash Brannon.

4. LEAP! (3/3/17) The Weinstein Company. D: Eric Summer, Éric Warin.

5. THE BOSS BABY (3/31/17) Dreamworks-20th Century Fox. D: Tom McGrath.

6. SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE (4/7/17) Sony. D: Kelly Asbury.

7. SPARK (4/14/17) D: Aaron Woodley

8. ANIMAL CRACKERS (4/21/17) D: Tony Bancroft, Scott Christian Sava.

9. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (6/2/17) Dreamworks. D: David Soren.

10. CARS 3 (6/16/17) Disney-Pixar. D: Brian Fee

11. DESPICABLE ME 3 (6/30/17) Universal (Illumination). D: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon.

12. THE GIRL WITH NO HANDS (2017 TBA) GKids. D: Sébastien Laudenbach


14. BLAZING SAMURAI (8/4/17) Open Road. D: Chris Bailey, Mark Koetsier.

15. THE NUT JOB 2 (8/18/17) D: Cal Brunker.

16. THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE (9/22/17) Warner Bros. D: Charlie Bean.

17. THE EMOJI MOVIE (8/4/17) Sony. D: Tony Leondis.

18. MY LITTLE PONY THE MOVIE (10/6/17) D: Jayson Thiessen.

19. THE STAR (11/10/17) Columbia Pictures. D: Timothy Reckart

20. COCO (11/22/17) Disney-Pixar. D: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina.

21. FERDINAND (12/22/17) 20th Century-Fox (Blue Sky). D: Carlos Saldanha.

NOTES: 2017 Limited-release theatricals (movies going Direct-to-Video (DVD, VOD but getting a theatrical billboard) began this year with ONE PIECE FILM: GOLD, directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, on January 10th via Funimation. Studio Ghibli’s 1993 TV movie OCEAN WAVES, directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, got a U.S. theatrical release via Gkids on January 13th. Similarly, the 1993 anime feature SAILOR MOON R THE MOVIE, directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara, was also a limited U.S. release by Eleven Arts on the same date, January 13th (in Los Angeles at the Theater in the Ace Hotel). Denmark’s 2010 feature THE TROUBLE WITH TERKEL was given a token theatrical run in several U.S. cities on February 3rd, via Indican Pictures. BUNYAN AND BABE, directed by Tony Bancroft and Jim Rygiel, was given a limited NY/LA theatrical release by Cinedigm on February 3rd.

Click for more information on 2016 animated feature releases – and for further information on all U.S. Animated Feature releases since 1937 Click Here.

OFFICIAL TRAILER: Pixar’s “Cars 3”

Disney-Pixar has released its first official trailer for Cars 3 – a sure-to-be summer hit coming out June 16th. Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world. Helping him to do that is director Brian Fee and a voice cast including Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer, Cheech Marin, Bonnie Hunt – and yeah, Larry the Cable Guy as “Mater”. Take a look:

New York Doubles-Up for an Annie-approved Commercial

Yo! New York is representing at the 2017 Annie Awards with two stalwarts of the east-coast community, J. J. Sedelmaier and Bill Plympton – united for a viral commercial, The Importance Of Paying Attention: Teeth. It is one in a series of three animated spots for the Ford Motor Company, each a gag-themed short about driving safety. For thirty-odd years J. J. and Bill have independently survived the peaks and dips of industry tumult, garnering their share of recognition and awards, but never actually working together until this project. So here are four essential things you need to know about it before the Annies.

Disney’s “Zootopia” Wins The Golden Globe

Winning the Hollywood Foreign Press’ Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature was Disney’s Zootopia. The event was held tonight at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Upon accepting the award, director Byron Howard made a statement about the film “We wanted to make a film that not only spoke to kids, but to adults, addressing diversity, even when there are people in the world who want to divide us by using fear”. Director Rich Moore and producer Clark Spencer also accepted.