Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and sequels to successful movies. These days it seems like every film is getting a follow up (or launching its own universe). This is good for both the fans who want to see more of the characters and worlds they love and the studios who can count on those same fans spending money on a ticket.
Animated films are ripe for sequels. If a second or third film is made years later there’s no need to worry about actors getting too old to reprise their parts. Many times actors do their vocal work separately which means different, hectic schedules can be worked around. And with the constantly changing technology each successive film can be even more visually stunning than the last.
This year saw the release of the third installment of Disney and Pixar’s Cars franchise, Cars 3, hit theaters. Universal’s Despicable Me 3 is not far behind. There are plenty more on the way, both this year and in the near future. A number of upcoming sequels are long awaited continuations of old favorites, movies made as much for adult fans as well as children.
Here are the 15 Animated Sequels You Didn’t Know Were Coming.
15. Minions 2
The banana-loving, evil villain-serving, yellow Minions gained popularity in Universal and Illumination’s 2010 Despicable Me. They quickly become such fan favorites that they were given their own movie. Besides starring alongside Steve Carell’s Gru in Despicable Me 3, the troublemakers will be back in Minions 2.
The first Minions film was released in 2015 and grossed a whopping $1.159 billion worldwide. It told the story of the minions throughout time, serving some of the most nefarious villains in history. Eventually they come to work for Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock). There is no word yet if Bullock will reprise her role or what the focus of this second film will be, but fans should expect more fruit related hijinx and funny garbled Minion language. Pierre Coffin has voiced the minions in all three Despicable Me films and shorts, and will presumably reprise his role in the Minions sequel.
14. Book of Life 2
The Day of the Dead inspired Book of Life, directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo del Toro, is getting a sequel that answers the question of what happens after a romantic movie ends. The first movie saw childhood friends Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum) vying for the love of Maria (Zoe Saldana) under the watchful eyes of the gods who’d placed a wager on who will win. The Book of Life was praised for its creative visuals and the respectful way it represented Mexican traditions and culture. It was even nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature.
Gutierrez is returning to direct Book of Life 2. There is no word yet if the original voice cast is returning, but the director has promised that the film will both continue the story and further explore the world of the first film.
Reel FX isn’t the only one creating animated films around the Mexican Dia de los Muertos. Disney and Pixar are also taking on the Day of the Dead with their latest animated feature, Coco, set for release this fall.
13. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck It Ralph 2
Disney Animation’s 2012 Wreck It Ralph took a fun-loving look inside the world of video games. The highly awaited sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck It Ralph 2, will follow the adventures of video-game-villain-but-actual-nice guy Ralph and the game’s “glitch” Vanellope von Schweetz as they are transported into (and wreak havoc on) the internet. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are returning to voice Ralph and Vanellope respectively. The film will also bring back Jack McBrayer as Fix-It Felix and Jane Lynch as Calhoun, as well as the new addition of Ana Ortiz in a small role.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is in good hands. The movie is being directed by Phil Johnson, who co-wrote both the original and the sequel, as well as Phil Moore, who directed the first film. Moana scribe Pamela Ribon is writing the film alongside Johnson. If the sequel can capture the fun and nostalgia of the first, it could look to be as successful. Wreck It Ralph was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
12. Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature
Toon Box Entertainment’s 2014 film Nut Job saw squirrel Surly (Will Arnett) banished from his neighborhood park and forced to survive on his own in the big city. Now the sequel, Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature, sees the return of Surly and his animal friends as they work together to stop the evil Mayor (Bobby Moynihan) from bulldozing their home and turning it into an amusement park.
Katherine Heigl and Maya Rudolph are reprising their roles from the original film as Andie the squirrel and Precious the Pug respectively. They are joined by Jackie Chan as Mr. Feng, a mouse gang leader and kung fu master.
Despite its mostly negative reviews (it received a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes), Nut Job made over $100 million worldwide and was also the biggest box office opening for an indie animated feature. Nut Job 2 is written and directed by Cal Brunker, who was not involved in the original film.
11. Sing 2
Universal and Illumination’s animated musical Sing tells the story of a koala named Buster (Matthew McConaughey) who hosts a singing competition with the hope of saving his failing theater. The film was well received by critics and fans alike and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature. It boasted a strong voice cast including Reese Witherspoon as Rosita the pig, Scarlett Johansson as the punk rock porcupine Ash, Tori Kelly as Meena the elephant with stage fright, and Taron Egerton as the British Gorilla Johnny, as well as a number of others. It also featured 65 pop songs which made up 15% of the film’s $75 million budget.
Sing 2 is slated to follow after the success of the first film. There is no word yet if Garth Jennings, writer and director of the first film, or any of the previous cast members will return.
10. Gnomeo & Juliet: Sherlock Gnomes
The 2011 Touchstone Pictures animated film Gnomeo & Juliet told Shakespeare’s tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet – but with garden gnomes and a lot less death. It starred Emily Blunt and James McAvoy as the star-crossed lovers as well as the vocal talents of Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, and Jason Statham.
The sequel, called Sherlock Gnomes, takes inspiration from another classic piece of literature, this time Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. It follows the “the greatest ornamental detective”, who is recruited by Gnomeo and Juliet to solve the disappearance of their fellow gnomes.
Johnny Depp will voice the famed detective with McAvoy and Blunt set to reprise their roles. Elton John wrote music for the first film (which was nominated for a Golden Globe) and will also return for the sequel. John Stevenson is directing Sherlock Gnomes with a script by Ben Zazove and Richard Sweren as well as Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley, who were writers on Gnomeo & Juliet.
9. Trolls 2
Dreamwork Animation’s Trolls showed viewers the adventures of the beloved dolls come to life on the big screen. The film featured Anna Kendrick as the bubbly Poppy and Justin Timberlake as the more subdued Branch. The two go on a quest to save their community from the Bergens, who eat trolls. The film gave us the Academy Award nominated pop anthem “Can’t Stop This Feeling” and introduced a whole new generation of children to the toys.
The follow up film, Trolls 2, will see the return of stars Kendrick and Timberlake. Director Mike Mitchell is not returning as he is is set to head another animated sequel (also on this list), The Lego Movie Sequel. Nevertheless, the next film in the Trolls franchise will surely include more bright colors, songs you can’t get out of your head, and fart jokes children will find hilarious.
8. Paddington 2
Paddington is in the vein of films like Ted and Space Jam, which have animated characters who interact with real people. The first film, based on the book Paddington Bear by Michael Bond, told the story of the lovable bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) leaving his home in Peru and finding a new home in England with the Brown family.
The second film will continue the bear’s adventures trying to fit in (and not always succeeding) as the Brown family prepares to celebrate Aunt Lucy’s (Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday. This time he is joined by some new faces played by Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson.
Paul King returns to write and direct Paddington 2. A third film is also already in the works. The first film was a success that surprised many who believed the beloved character could not be adapted.
7. The Secret Life of Pets 2
Most of the upcoming movies from Universal and Illumination are sequels, including The Secret Life of Pets 2. The first film, released in 2016, followed two city dogs voiced by Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet, who get lost and have to find their way back home – and away from the crazy rabbit gang leader, Snowball (Kevin Hart). The film also featured voice acting from Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Steve Coogan, Lake Bell, and Hannibal Burress.
The sequel will see the return of director Chris Renaud and writer Brian Lynch. No returning cast members have been announced yet, but it’s safe to assume that many of them will return due of the success of the first film, which helped Illumination pass the $4 billion mark for the first time since 2010.
6. The Lego Movie Sequel
2014’s The Lego Movie was a huge success. It brought the classic toys to life with humor and heart, earning $469 million worldwide. It launched its own franchise, first with The Lego Batman Movie and next with The Lego Ninjago Movie, and Billion Brick Race – due in 2019. Unikitty (voiced by Alison Brie in the film) will also be getting her own series on Cartoon Network. But most anticipated for fans is the follow up to the original film, The Lego Movie Sequel.
The sequel will be directed by Trolls director Mike Mitchell. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who wrote and directed the first Lego Movie, wrote the first draft of the sequel which has been revised by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, the creator of BoJack Horseman. The story is shaping up to be a musical and space action movie that will also address the first film’s surprising ending. It will also feature the return of Chris Pratt as Emmet and hopefully many of the other actors from the first film.
5. Hotel Transylvania 3
Hotel Transylvania tells the story of Count Dracula (Adam Sandler), his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), and the hotel they run for other monsters. The first two films in the franchise have been extremely successful, with the sequel boasting the biggest opening ever for a September release.
Hotel Transylvania 3 will see the return of Sandler and Gomez as well as Andy Samberg – as Mavis’ human husband, Johnny. This time the vampires and their friends will be leaving the hotel for adventures on the high seas on a cruise ship. This time it is Dracula who falls in love – with a woman named Ericka who is a descendant of the vampire hunter Van Helsing.
Director Genndy Tartakovsky will return for the third film. It is being written by screenwriter Michael McCullers, who was not involved in the previous movies.
4. Toy Story 4
The first Toy Story film started Pixar down the path of becoming the animated juggernaut they are today. Fifteen years and three movies later, Toy Story is one of the most successful franchises of all time. Toy Story 3 provided what many considered a fitting ending to the trilogy, until the announcement of a fourth film. Pixar President Jim Morris compared Toy Story 4 to The Force Awakens because it is starting a new chapter of the franchise rather than following the story of the previous film.
Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are set to reprise their roles as Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Director and Disney and Pixar Animation Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter is also scheduled to return as a co-director along with Josh Cooley (Inside Out). The script is being written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack. The combination of new fresh voices and Pixar old guard should ease some fans concerned with the continuation of the franchise.
3. How to Train Your Dragon 3
How to Train Your Dragon tells the story of a Viking boy named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his pet dragon, the Night Fury named Toothless. The first two films tell a touching coming of age story that were both a critical and commercial success.
The third film will go back to the source material – the books of the same name written by Cressida Cowell. This could mean seeing Hiccup much older than before and potentially having to say goodbye to his dragon friend as they go their separate ways. The film will also see the return of the villain Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) from How to Train Your Dragon 2.
As of right now, How to Train Your Dragon 3 will be the last in the series, although that could always change. Spin-off films aren’t out of the question, especially since there is already a TV series. Director Dean DeBlois is returning to write and direct How to Train Your Dragon 3.
2. The Incredibles 2
Fans have been waiting for the follow up to The Incredibles since the film’s release in 2004. The first film told the story of the Parr family trying (and failing) to hide their superpowers from the rest of the world. The sequel will see the film head in a new direction, while still giving fans the same family and tone they have come to love.
Brad Bird is returning to write and direct The Incredibles 2. Samuel L. Jackson will be returning to voice Lucius Best/Frozone; Bob Parr/Mr.Incredible’s (Craig T. Nelson) friend and partner. Nelson and Holly Hunter, who voiced Helen Parr/Elastagirl, will probably return as well, although they have yet to be officially announced.
Because so much time has past in between films, Sarah Vowell and Spencer Fox could return to voice the Parr children, Violet and Dash, if the film sees them aged up. Fans are also eager to learn more about the youngest Incredible, Jack-Jack, and what his powers may be.
1. Frozen 2
Movie audiences have not been able to let Frozen go. The film was a massive success at the box office, becoming the highest grossing animated film of all time and winning two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, two BAFTAs, and two Grammys. Frozen 2 will build off the first film while helping audiences better understand the first film, which saw Elsa (Idina Menzel) learning to use and embrace her icy powers.
Frozen 2 will see the return of Menzel as well as Kristen Bell, who voiced Elsa’s younger sister Anna, and Josh Gad as Olaf the Snowman. Jennifer Lee is writing the film as well as co-directing again alongside Chris Buck. Hopefully the film will continue the story of the two sisters that made the original such a standout among past Disney films.
Frozen 2 will be released on November 27th, 2019.
Which animated sequel are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments!