A sequel to the animated feature The Book of Life has been officially announced. The Annecy International Animation Film Festival is the ideal place for animators and filmmakers to show their latest projects in the field of animation. The festival sees a wide catalogue of short films, feature films, films for television, and various announcements.
One of the biggest announcements at this year’s Annecy Festival comes from Reel FX Animation Studios and director Jorge R. Gutierrez, who revealed they are moving forward together on a sequel to the successful 3D animated film The Book of Life.
Jorge R. Gutierrez will be back on board as director, with Reel FX Animation Studios producing. Unlike the first film, which used 3D computer animation to bring the wooden-like puppet characters to life, the sequel is planned as a stereoscopic 3D film. The Book of Life takes various elements from Mexican tradition of “Day of the Dead”, which states that “if you talk about someone, sing their songs, remember them, they are with you”, and according to Gutierrez, the sequel will keep this essence.
Gutierrez told Variety:
“The sequel grew from that and people asking what was gonna happen with the characters, what’s gonna happen with the gods? The sequel embraces all these things and, in a weird way, is a continuation of the story with everybody you love from the first movie. [...] I am a big fan of romantic movies. I always want to find out what happens afterwards. That’s one question we will ask during the sequel."
The Book of Life, produced by Guillermo del Toro, followed childhood friends Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), who compete for the love of their other childhood friend, Maria (Zoe Saldaña). Little do they know, husband-and-wife deities Xibalba and La Muerte have made a high-stakes wager on the outcome of this love triangle. The film was a box office success, becoming one of the biggest breakout U.S independent animated features of the decade.
Gutierrez also revealed that audience have embraced The Book of Life and its characters more than he ever imagined they would, sharing that “the movie exploded at comic book conventions. People dressed up as the characters, they get tattoos of the characters.” Gutierrez, his wife Sandra Equihua, and The Book of Life art director Paul Sullivan even designed a poster (see above) for the sequel solely for an art exhibition of film posters of hypothetical movie sequels. Unsurprisingly, the poster was a hit.
Reel FX waited to make the sequel announcement until it had cleared the rights – so now the sequel has been green-lit. Chuck Peil, Reel FX head of business development and strategic partnerships, said:
“[The Book of Life 2 will be] the continuation of an extraordinary story that technically and creatively captures the vision Jorge had of this fabulous world. The original film broke ground on so many ways and we hope that the sequel will have the same impact for the fanbase."
It seems that the tradition of “the Day of the Dead” is turning into a popular theme among creators – with Disney preparing to release Coco later this year – but The Book of Life was a respectful representation of the tradition and its folklore, which is why it was well received by general audiences. It’s yet to see if the original cast will be back to lend their voices to the sequel, but one thing is for sure: the visuals will be as astonishing as the ones in the first movie.