This week Sony Pictures Animation unveiled its animation line up for the next two years with a huge bang! MILES MORALES will indeed be the next Spider-Man in the Phil Lord and Chris Miller produced animated feature. But before we break down our thoughts about the announcement and sizzle reel (WHOA!), let’s start with some of Sony’s upcoming titles like Emoji: The Movie as well as Smurfs: The Lost Village.
Star TJ Miller and director Tony Leondis were on hand to introduce Emoji and give us more details about the movie. Miller started off with, “I know what you’re thinking: ‘Emoji’ the movie. What the f**k?!” but went on share how he thought the concept was ripe to tell a story that would connect with people in a new way.
The film centers on an emoji named Gene (TJ Miller). Unlike all the other emojis in Textopolis, who can only be their given emotion (Meh, Smiley, High-five etc), Gene has a wide range of emotions when he’s only supposed to be a ‘Meh’. Inspired by growing up gay and feeling excluded for being other, Leondis wanted to show how emojis help us express ourselves and how the story can center on how they’re only expected to be one thing. Through combing both ideas he’s crafted a story about how Gene’s differences could be seen as a misunderstood and a threat to the status quo when he just wants to belong. Leondis posed the film’s thematic question,”Do I have to change who I am for the world to accept me? Or, can I change the world for the better because of who I am?”
In the footage select invited press were invited to screen, we didn’t see too much of this intriguing emotional core, but did get an introduction to Gene, and ‘High-five’ emoji (James Corden), who feels left out because the 15 year old (whose phone they live in) is all about Fist-bump now, and no longer uses him. We saw the two outcasts bond when High-five tries to force his fingers into a fist bump to fit in, and Gene wants to turn himself into a ‘Meh’. Together, they set out to find the code breaker who can change them. Admittedly, the whole concept is bit hard to wrap our heads around, but it was funny to see and hear about. Guess we will see!
Announced at the presentation were quite a few features for this year and beyond.
This holiday season Sony is planning on releasing The Star, a new take on the story of the first Christmas. Produced by DeVon Franklin (Heaven is for Real, Miracles from Heaven) and directed by Timothy Reckhart, the film centers on the “greatest story never told” as Franklin joked. Following a scrappy duo, a donkey (Steven Yeun) and his best-friend, a dove (Keegan-Michael Key), the film aims to explore a new side of a beloved story. The two friends decide to follow the North star to what they feel might be a great destiny and embark on an adventure of a lifetime. The faith celebrating film feature’s an inclusive cast to tell the tale including Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Tracy Morgan, Kris Kristofferson, Kristin Chenoweth, Kelly Clarkson, Gabriel Iglesias, Ving Rhames and Gina Rodriguez (As Virgin Mary–of course!) among others.
Slated for a spooky 2018 release, is Hotel Transylvania 3. Director Genndy Tartakovsky was on hand to share some concept art for the third film in the trilogy which was inspired by a cruise he took with his family. Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, and Andy Samberg are set to return as Drac finds himself taking a vacation from hosting other people’s vacations at the hotel. We get to catch up with the family and their friends as they take to the seas–which is exciting because we’ve only seen Jonathan’s and his human family go to the hotel but haven’t seen any other monsters besides Mavis travel outside of it. As a fan of the series, I’m very excited for this, the past few films have celebrated families who come together in spite of their differences and shine a light on generational social changes through the father/daughter relationship.
And there’s gonna be more Dennis, Mavis and Jonathan’s kid, who stole the show in HT2! We’re so in! Tartakovsky also announced that our fave little red-haired baby vampire is also getting his own short in front of Smurfs: The Lost Village called ‘Puppy’ where Drac decides to give in for the kid’s wishes for a pet which doesn’t go too well for Grandpa when Mom finds out.
Speaking of Smurfs: The Lost Village, we actually got to watch a few scenes from the film.
With a whole new cast including voice talent led by Demi Lovato as Smurfette, Joe Maganiello as Hefty, Jack McBrayer as Clumsy, Danny Pudi as Brainy and Mandy Patinkin as Poppa Smurf–the characters you know and love are finally going back to their fully animated roots but with a fresh start to the beloved family series.
No more live-action hybrid! (Sorry NPH!)
Inspired by Peyo’s original designs, the look of the world is a throwback, while the story changes the Smurf world as we know it and fixes the one thing that made it problematic:
The fact that there was only one female Smurf.
In The Lost Village, Smurfette and the guys embark on a journey to help a hidden colony of Smurfs (who are all women!) from the threat of Gargamel (voiced by Rainn Wilson) who’s hot on the trail of finding a new resource to try and take power from. However, when Smurfette and gang arrive, they discover that the new Smurf tribe is ready to take on anything, as the leader, SmurfWillow (Julia Roberts), has raised a warrior colony. We got to see a short scene where familiar faces meet new friends like SmurfStorm (Michelle Rodriguez), SmurfBlossom (Ellie Kemper), and SmurfLily (Ariel Winter) where you discover that the world of Smurfs can be bigger than the one we knew! Aw yeah, blue girl power!
And finally the two big projects we’re most excited for:
CONFIRMED on the horizon for Sony is Vivo, a musical slated for 2020 from Lin-Manuel Miranda and his In the Heights collaborator Quiara Alegría Hudes. It so far features 11 songs from the Tony and Grammy award winner for the passion project he and Hudes share about a monkey who travels from Havana to Miami in pursuit of singing stardom. The film currently has Kirk Di Micco (The Croods) attached to direct.
Introduced in a message from the Han Solo film set, Untitled Spider-Man producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller were excited to share that the animated feature would indeed follow Peter Parker predecessor MILES MORALES–I can’t help to all caps it because as a Latina, I’m so proud and excited about this!
“What inspired us the most is that anyone can wear the mask. You can be any race, creed or color” stated Lord and Miller. We also got a look at a sizzle reel with many concept images of different Spidey suits which makes us wonder if the movie will feature multiple alternate timelines. In a moment where Morales is fighting, the slick neon urban environment changes around him in a way to show ripples of time. (IT WAS LIT!)
But we have to bear in mind that it’s all very early stages at this point. But, I, for one, can’t help reading into Lord and Miller’s statement. ‘Anyone can wear the mask’ can also mean that perhaps other Spidey-verse heroes may pop up!
If we get Spider-Gwen that would be so amazing!!!!
It’s so exciting to see the places the studio is willing to go and it’s about damn time! We’re really looking forward to the changes that are being creatively put in place.
Are you excited for any of the films coming up?