Like it or not, we live in a Disney world. Uncle Walt's brainchild grew from humble beginnings and soon became a cinematic juggernaut, becoming the last word in all-ages entertainment for the longest time. When it comes to talking about animated movies, the omnipresent Disney are never too far away from being mentioned, considering it's what they built their empire on. The House of Mouse are responsible for some of the most enduring classics of the genre and they've shaped countless childhoods. They're more than a brand, they're practically an institution at this point, with audiences eager to get their next fix of polished, family-friendly adventure.
Whilst it's more than likely that movies like The Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 will dominate the box-office and the cultural conversation this year, we felt it only fair that we give a shout-out to the other studios working to compete in the same market over the next few years. Disney isn't the only game in town and some of these upcoming titles look poised to give the pesky money-gobbling mouse a run for his money. Without further ado, here are 20 Animated Movies In Development (That Aren’t Disney).
20 The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)
2014's The Lego Movie had no business being as good as it ended up being. How do you take a toy that has no real established story or characters of its own behind it and turn it into a compelling movie? We still don't know, but writers and directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller found a way. What could have been a soulless feature length toy advert ended up being a genuinely clever, funny, and creative adventure that managed to sneak in some commentary on the nature of growing up and the childhood capacity for play alongside the gags and pop culture references. It was a seriously impressive feat and after the recent Lego Batman and Ninjago spin-offs, it seems like they're going to attempt to do it all over again next year.
Everything is awesome! Now that we have a sequel to The Lego Movie.
Whilst Lord and Miller have stepped down from directing duties for The Second Part, they remain as co-writers, with former animator and director Mike Mitchell stepping up to the plate, co-directing with Trisha Gum. The core voice cast of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett are set to return, to be joined by Tiffany Haddish and Stephanie Beatriz. The Second Part will pick up five years after the events in the last movie. A new enemy emerges and kidnaps Emmett's friends sending him on a mission to rescue them.
19 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)
The first How to Train Your Dragon, released in 2010, was met with acclaim from critics and audiences alike. The story of a young Viking named Hiccup and his unlikely dragon friend Toothless ended up striking a chord with the general public and soon a highly profitable franchise was born, spawning an equally loved sequel, numerous shorts, a television series and even a live show.
As one of Dreamworks' signature series, a third part was always on the cards, but it's had a rough journey to get to this point. It was initially announced for June 2016, but was pushed back to June 2017. Then it was shunted down the calendar again to June 2018. Dragon fans were granted a brief window of excitement when the release was brought forward to May, but their hopes were dashed when it was delayed for the final time to March 2019.
As we've just had the official poster released and the promise of the first trailer to follow soon, it seems like The Hidden World's March 1st 2019 debut is finally set in stone. The plot looks to test the friendship between Hiccup and Toothless, with the official synopsis promising that both dragon and Viking chief having to face “impossible decisions to save their kind”. If Dreamworks play their cards right, The Hidden World could be a worthy capper to one of the best animated trilogies ever. No pressure then, guys.
18 The Croods 2 (2020)
Despite some decent critical write-ups and a very healthy box-office take, animated prehistoric movie The Croods nearly had its franchise dreams scuppered before they began. Work on the sequel started pretty immediately after the release of the first movie and various press releases were sent out confirming that the cast of Ryan Reynolds, Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone had signed on the dotted line to return.
However things stalled when NBCUniversal acquired Dreamworks Animation for an eye-watering $3.8 billion. The future of the film was cast into doubt, with no-one sure whether NBCUniversal's plans included another Croods adventure. Due to this, Dreamworks cancelled the project themselves and announced that they were scrapping production in 2016. However, the news of the cancellation proved to be hasty and by 2017. Dreamworks and Universal announced the revival of the project, now set for 2020.
The Croods 2 may have run into some production issues, but it's finally underway.
It's certainly good news for Croods fans, although the directors of the first film Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders won't be returning to helm the project. That job has fallen to Joel Crawford with Mark Swift producing. It'll be Crawford's first big-budget directing job, but his animation credentials include story artist roles on the Kung Fu Panda franchise and Bee Movie.
17 Trolls 2 (2020)
If you felt that you couldn't escape Justin Timberlake's “Can't Stop The Feeling!” in 2016, we've got bad news for you, it's probably going to happen again in 2020 as the sequel to Trolls, imaginatively titled Trolls 2 is set for release. The movie did solid numbers both domestically and overseas so the option for a sequel was soon snapped up by Dreamworks Animation.
The first movie garnered a fairly mixed critical reception, but the many of the positive reviews remarked on the film's infectious happiness. It's clear that Trolls was aimed at much younger audiences, rather than going for a more all-ages appeal, but the world would be a boring place if every movie was catered for everyone and by all standards, Trolls was at the very least inoffensive.
Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick will reprise their roles as Branch and Poppy in Trolls 2, with a bunch of new voices joining the fray in the forms of Sam Rockwell, Chance the Rapper, Hamilton's Anthony Ramos, Deadpool's Karan Soni and the Fifty Shades franchise's Jamie Dornan. Co-director Walt Dohrn will helm the movie. His directing partner from the first one, Mike Mitchell, left to sign on to The Lego Movie 2.
16 Sing 2 (2020)
Featuring an all-star cast including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton and John C. Reilly, Sing opened to impressive numbers in 2016. The concept of anthropomorphic animals entering a talent show to sing their hearts out to save a theater proved to be a decent one, with the movie boasting a ton of famous toe-tapping classics on its soundtrack.
It provided Illumination with their second hit of 2016, along with The Secret Life of Pets, so a sequel was more than likely going to happen. Very little is known of the movie other than the tentative release date of December 25th 2020, but it's not difficult to guess that the movie will have wall-to-wall pop songs like the first one had.
Not much is known about the sequel, other than its release date.
As the first movie was about saving a theater, which (spoiler alert) they managed to do, we're guessing the next logical step is to have the performing animals go on tour, which opens up the possibility for a plethora of new jukebox classics to be sung. Whether the main cast will return or not is unknown at this point in time, but as actors are normally locked into franchise contracts from the start, we'll bet that the majority will.
15 The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
The idea of Toy Story but with pets may seem like a simple one, but sometimes simplicity is all you need. The Secret Life of Pets was a massive hit for Illumination Entertainment, raking in $875 million on a $75 million budget. With margins like that, a sequel was inevitable and sure enough, here we are.
One obvious change going forward is that comedian Louis CK will no longer be voicing lead Jack Russell Terrier Max, being replaced by Patton Oswalt. In addition to the returning cast including Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate and Hannibal Burress, there's a bunch of new recruits, namely Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, Pete Holmes and, most excitingly of all, Harrison Ford.
No plot details as of yet, but we can imagine that the sequel isn't going to stray too far from the winning premise of the first one. Expect lots of animal shenanigans and a race against time plot to get home before the pets' owners discover that they're missing. The movie is set for a June 7th, 2019 release, so you'd might as well start preparing for the younger members of your family to bug you incessantly as soon as you can. This one looks like it might be even bigger than the first.
14 Wonder Park (2019)
Wonder Park is a Spanish/American co-production that will see Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Movies team with Spanish animation studio Ilion Animation, best known for 2009's Planet 51.
The movie was originally titled the rather generic “Amusement Park”, but was changed to Wonder Park earlier this year. That wasn't the only change made either, with the original director, former Pixar animator Dylan Brown being fired from the project due to harassment claims from a number of sources. Longtime director, animator, and storyboard artist, David Feiss, creator of the downright weird but awesome Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel, was announced as his replacement.
The movie boasts an impressive cast of Mila Kunis, Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Garner, Kenan Thompson, Jeffrey Tambor and John Oliver.
If kids end up being huge fans of the movie, there's good news as a follow-up television series is set to debut on Nickelodeon some time after. Plot details are thin on the ground, but it seems to revolve around a little girl named June (voiced by relative newcomer Brianna Denski), some animals and a magic amusement park. It's clear that the big N have plans for a possible franchise, so here's hoping it gets off on the right foot. The movie is scheduled for release on March 15th 2019.
13 Spies in Disguise (2019)
In 2009, animator Lucas Martell created Pigeon: Impossible, a CGI animated short about a troublesome pigeon that bothers a secret agent for a bagel and ends up nearly causing global devastation after it gets stuck in a high-tech briefcase responsible for launching nuclear weapons. The short was a hit with the internet and last year, 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios, the people behind the Ice Age and Rio movies, announced that they were making a feature length adaptation of the short called Spies in Disguise.
Not much is known about the plot as of yet, but there are a few concrete details about the project. Will Smith will lend his voice to the lead character of Lance Sterling, described by the official press release as “the world's most awesome spy”. Of course, every secret agent worth their salt has to have a gadget guy and Sterling is no exception. Backing Lance up is the intellectually gifted but socially awkward Walter, voiced by Spider-Man himself, Tom Holland. Walter usually takes a backseat role, inventing all of Lance's fantastic gadgets. bBt a sudden turn of events puts Walter in the hot-seat, forcing him to team up with Sterling to save the world. Spies is Disguise sounds like a lot of fun, but we won't know for sure until the movie releases on April 19th, 2019 in US cinemas.
12 Untitled Playmobil Movie (2019)
Normally we'd be skeptical about a toy with no established story or characters being turned into a feature film, but in this post Lego Movie world, anything is possible. The popular line of toys has already spawned several amusement parks across Europe and the movie isn't their first foray into entertainment either. They've released an interactive movie called The Secret of Pirate Island and a TV series entitled Super 4, which has racked up a formidable 104 episodes and continues to run on several networks worldwide.
It'll be produced by French animation studios ON Entertainment, with help from Wild Bunch and Pathé. The project has already nabbed a promising director, Lino DiSalvo, who was the head of animation for Disney's mega hit Frozen and left the House of Mouse after 16 years to become Creative Director at Paramount Animation.
Playmobil may be a success like The Lego Movie. But, only time will tell.
No word yet on any plot details, but we're willing to bet that it's going to be a mash-up of all of the toyline's most popular theme sets ranging from everyday things like construction and transport to more of their historical fantasy ones like pirates, cowboys and medieval knights. Whether it turns out to be anything more than a toy commercial remains to be seen, but our fingers are crossed that it manages to be something more significant than that. The Playmobil movie opens in April 2019.
11 The Billion Brick Race (2019)
Lego have made no secret about their franchise plans, with not only the original Lego Movie getting sequels, but several spin-offs too, including Lego Batman and the Lego Ninjago movie. Iron Man 3 and Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation co-writer Drew Pearce apparently pitched The Billion Brick Race to Warner Bros and WB were so enthusiastic that work began promptly on the spin-off. How I Met Your Mother star Jason Segel was also hired to bring his Muppets skills to the movie and with these elements in place, The Billion Brick Race was shaping up rather nicely.
However, the project has since hit a series of brick walls (no pun intended). Pearce and Segel eventually left the project, only for Jorge Gutierrez, director of the underrated The Book of Life, to sign on. Guiterrez later left too, leaving the whole thing up in the air. Whilst the movie still searches for its master builders, we wouldn't be surprised if this one eventually gets delayed to allow for the significant creative changes that have happened behind the scenes. We haven't heard anything since Gutierrez stepped down, but no postponement has been announced as of yet. The movie's original release date of 2019 still stands, but it's looking shakier by the day. Fingers crossed they manage to work something out.
10 UglyDolls (2019)
In case you're not aware, the UglyDoll brand is a series of cute creature plush toys that became popular with kids and collectors alike. As with most popular toys, sooner or later there was going to be a movie made and next year we'll get one, courtesy of Robert Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios, MWM Studios (formerly OddLot Entertainment) and Reel FX. Unlike several properties on this list, UglyDolls do have established characters and even an Uglyverse.
There's a wholesome message behind the toys, with the definition of “ugly” taken to mean unique and special.
As the movie is being developed as we speak, there isn't much information to go on, but we do know that rapper Pitbull will be involved. "Mr. Worldwide" will provide a voice for the movie as well as follow in Pharell and Justin Timberlake's footsteps by creating an original song for the film. The movie looks to be intended to start a franchise, including a Hulu TV series and video games, so the studios behind the movie must be hoping for big things from the film. It'll be helmed by Shrek 2 director Kelly Asbury and is slated for release in May 2019.
9 The Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019)
Angry Birds has come a long way from its humble origins as a fun smartphone timewaster. The highly successful video game became a merchandising powerhouse with spin-off games (including Star Wars, Rio and Transformers crossovers), toys, comic books, multiple TV series and even has a game show currently in development. The Angry Birds Movie did decent business (becoming the second-highest grossing video game movie of all time) so it should serve as no surprise that a sequel is being worked on.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 has locked in a September 20th 2019 release date, which just so happens to be the tenth anniversary of the first game's debut. The original movie's main voice cast including Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Bill Hader and Peter Dinklage are set to return, with Ledlie Jones, Sterling K. Brown and Rachel Bloom joining the cast.
Whilst the first movie was financially successful it received a decidedly mixed critical response, so Rovio Animation need to step up their game when it comes to the second part. With the talented and funny people involved in the project, there's no reason why The Angry Birds Movie 2 couldn't be good, even great. But, time will ultimately tell with this one.
8 Abominable (2019)
Chinese-American animation production company Pearl Studio (formerly Oriental Dreamworks) and Dreamworks have been working on Abominable for many years. They movie was originally supposed be called Everest, however they wanted to avoid confusion with the completely unrelated live-action Jake Gyllenhaal movie of the same name.
Are animated yeti movies going to become a thing now? We hope so.
Unlike this year's animated yeti movie Smallfoot, which is about a bunch of yetis who discover a human, Abominable seems to be about several humans discovering a singular yeti. According to the official plot synopsis “When a mischievous group of friends encounter a young Yeti, they embark upon an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth”. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Chloe Bennet will voice the character of Yi, to be joined by Claudia Kim, Tenzing Norgay Trainor and Albert Tsai in as yet unspecified roles. The movie's also being written by William Davies, best known as the scribe of the original How to Train Your Dragon and Flushed Away. Abominable is currently scheduled for September 27th, 2019 meaning that there's plenty of time still left to whip it into shape.
7 Sonic the Hedgehog (2019)
Once an era-defining video game mascot locked in a rivalry with Nintendo's mighty Mario, the years haven't been as kind to Sonic the Hedgehog as they have been to the all-conquering Italian plumber. He's still beloved, but despite some genuine high points, a lot of the more recent Sonic games haven't been much to write home about. However, Sega are hoping that Sonic will translate well to the big screen and have signed off on a live-action/CGI animation hybrid movie. Although this is the first Sonic movie, the character has appeared in films before, most notably Wreck-It Ralph and Ready Player One.
Columbia Pictures had initially developed the movie but after the project was discontinued at Sony, Paramount bought the rights and continued work on it. Director of the first Deadpool movie Tim Miller was then confirmed to be producing the movie. It was recently announced that James Marsden has been signed to star as a cop named Tom who has to team up with Sonic to save the day.
With all the crazy video game movie adaptations happening, this one could go either way. It'd be nice to see Sonic be given a decent, witty movie all of his own. Thanks to movies like Enchanted, we know that James Marsden is game for anything which could make for a fun time. The movie is set to hit screens on November 15th, 2019.
6 Bob's Burgers (2020)
After Fox's Bob's Burgers won its second animation Emmy in 2017, plans for a feature length movie were soon announced. Twentieth Century Fox Film chairman and CEO Stacey Snider stated that she wanted to “redouble” their family and animation offerings and Bob's Burgers fit into their new plan perfectly. The show's creator, Loren Bouchard, seemed excited about bringing the show to the big screen in his statement to the press, but he also recognized the difficult challenge ahead.
Who wouldn't be excited to see the Belcher family's shenanigans on the big screen.
Per Deadline, Bouchard didn't mince his words when he said, "We know the movie has to scratch every itch the fans of the show have ever had, but it also has to work for all the good people who’ve never seen the show. We also know it has to fill every inch of the screen with the colors and the sounds and the ever so slightly greasy texture of the world of Bob’s – but most of all it has to take our characters on an epic adventure. In other words, it has to be the best movie ever made. But no pressure, right?!” As he seems keenly aware of the situation, we're going to say that at least Bouchard seems to be approaching it from the right place. The film is set to bow on July 17th, 2020.
5 The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge (2020)
You don't need us to tell you about the global phenomenon that is SpongeBob SquarePants. After years on the small screen and two movies under his square belt, SpongeBob is going to make his third appearance on the big screen in The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge in 2020.
Little is known of the project outside of the name, but we're willing to bet that the cast of the TV series and the two previous movies will return once again. Call it a hunch. Whilst the first movie was more traditionally animated, It's a Wonderful Sponge will follow Sponge Out of Water's example and be a CGI/2D animation hybrid.
If we were to infer anything from the title, it's that the third movie in the trilogy will be a play on the classic It's a Wonderful Life where Spongebob wishes he'd never been born and is shown what Bikini Bottom would be like if he never existed. Of course, this is pure speculation, but as SpongeBob is a character who often screws up and annoys the residents of Bikini Bottom, it isn't outside the realms of possibility that that's where they're going with it. After numerous delays, The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge will premiere in July 2020.
4 Scooby (2020)
There are few Hanna-Barbara characters as enduring and loved as Scooby Doo. Aside from the armfuls of TV series, there have been two live-action movies, a DVD library's worth of direct to video adventures and most bizarrely a Supernatural crossover. Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Daphne and Velma remain popular characters and it seems that 2020 is the year they make their next leap to the silver screen.
The project, only known as “Scooby” at this point is slowly being assembled behind the closed doors of Warner Brothers. The movie will be co-directed by animation veteran Tony Cervone, best known for his work on Animaniacs, Duck Dodgers and Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox. Cervone teams with Dax Shepard. It'll be written by Shepard and Matt Lieberman
We wonder what mysteries those meddling kids may solve.
Details are sketchy, but there is WB's plot synopsis is promising what sounds like a Hanna-Barbara version of The Avengers. Everyone's favorite cowardly dog (other than Courage) will join S.C.O.O.B. – “an elite group of heroes comprised of the most beloved Hanna-Barbera characters.” Scooby and the Mystery Inc. gang have to fight ghostly forces and have to “save man and dog kind” That's a significant step up from unmasking vengeful caretakers and the like, but we'll see how it plays out in a couple of years' time.
3 Minions 2 (2020)
Probably the least surprising entry on this list, Minions is getting a sequel. Since the first movie earned a billion dollars at the box-office (yes, that's billion with a “b”). Minions became the first non-Disney animated movie to accomplish such a feat and the sixteenth highest grossing movie ever, of course there's a sequel on the horizon. Illumination and Universal would have to be seven kinds of stupid to leave all that potential money on the table after the first one.
Understandably eager to replicate their success, the creative team behind Minions has signed on for the sequel, including the director and writer. It has to be stated that the Minions movie wasn't exactly a critical darling, but it very obviously hit upon something that transcends all language barriers if the foreign box office is anything to go by. Minions earned the majority of its take overseas by a considerable margin.
It seems that the minions aren't going anywhere for the time being, especially if the movie's sequel ends up doing similar business to its predecessor. If you happen to find them impossibly irritating, then we're sorry to inform you that the future looks rather yellow from where we're standing. Banana.
2 Vivo (2020)
Lin-Manuel Miranda may be one of the busiest people in Hollywood right now. After the unparalleled success of Hamilton, Miranda has been picked to provide the music for a whole host of projects including Disney's Moana. Sony Animation wants a piece of the Miranda action too and have signed Lin to score their 2020 animated offering Vivo, re-teaming him with his In the Heights screenwriter Quiara Alegría Hudes.
If we've learned anything about Lin, he knows how to compose some good music.
The movie started life as a Dreamworks picture, with Miranda already having written many songs for it before the whole thing began spinning its wheels and started going nowhere under Dreamworks. The project was moved to Sony, who were all too willing to snap up the rights. According to the limited plot details available online, Vivo is the story of a music loving capuchin monkey who must travel from Havana to Miami in order “to fulfil his destiny”. However, this was the Dreamworks synopsis and the film could have been retooled considerably since then. We hope it doesn't change too much. The story sounds all kinds of adorable. No voice cast announcement exist at the time of writing, but we'll almost certainly be dripfed information about Vivo over the next year or so.
1 Super Mario Bros. (202?)
Not to be outshone by Sonic, it seems that Nintendo's main man Mario is finally making his way to the big screen. Yep, for the first time. No, we can't recall a disappointing live-action adaptation starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper. We've got no idea what you're talking about.
Okay- fine. Technically this will be the second Mario movie, but it already looks like it's going to be a way more faithful adaptation than the 1993 film. Nintendo have teamed with Illumination to create an animated movie based on the adventures of the world's most famous plumber.
The movie will be produced by creator Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri, the latter of which is best known for producing Illumination's other big hits like the Despicable Me movies, Minions and Sing.
We're long overdue a Mario movie and it seems crazy that it's taken this long to do an animated big-screen adventure. Nintendo have been branching out in their media enterprises of late and with this movie and 2019's Detective Pikachu it looks like they're making plays for a serious stake in the movie making business. Whether or not Mario with be voiced by longtime actor Charles Martinet remains to be seen, but we'd be lying if we said we wouldn't be disappointed if he didn't get to voice him for the big movie. No release date is known, but we're sure it'll be in the next couple of years.
What animated movie are you excited to see? Tell us in the comments below!