My invite to the special presentation of the Sony Picture Animation film releases for 2017-18 showed me what an impressive lineup they have in store. So impressive, in fact, I left with my spirit soaring in hopes of a better year, content-wise, than the industry has had in the recent past.
The 2017-18 roll call: “Smurfs: The Lost Village” (April 7); “Puppy,” Sony’s first animated short-film (Aug. 5); “The Emoji Movie” (Aug. 4); “The Star” (Nov. 10); “Hotel Transylvania 3” (Sept. 21, 2018); and “Spider-Man” (Dec. 21, 2018).
“I am impressed with the talent,” said Sony Animation President Kristine Belson of the casts of the upcoming projects.
“I am excited about this project,” said “Smurfs” director Kelly Asbury. “It’s a new version of the Smurfs … capturing the original comic book Smurf of 1958 by Peyo.”
The 3-D animation has Smurfette, voiced by Demi Lovato, on a search for her purpose. All the other blue Smurfs — except for Smurfette, who was created by the evil Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) — has an “adjective” purpose such as Clumsy (Jack McBrayer), Brainy (Danny Pudi), Grouchy (Jake Johnson) and Nosey (Kelly Asbury). While searching for her purpose, Smurfette discovers a lost Smurf village and the fight is on to protect the village from Gargamel, who wants to steal the Smurf power.
Other Smurfs include Julia Roberts (Willow, the leader of the secret Smurf village), Gabriel Iglesias (Jokey), Ariel Winters (Lily), and Michelle Rodriguez (Storm).
“It’s a story that connects with people. They help us share our feelings,” said Tony Leondis director of “The Emoji Movie.” “There is this one Emoji with a lot of feelings and he thinks he is a freak because everyone else has one.”
“The Emoji Movie” is about a 15-year-old boy named Alex, voiced by Jake T. Austin, whose emojis are competing to be his favorite — a spot currently held by Smiley, voiced by Maya Rudolph.
“‘The Star’ is the greatest story never told from an animal’s view,” said director Tim Reckart about the animated film. “A donkey sees a star. The Dove, his best friend, they go on a journey to see where the star leads.”
Bo breaks away and ventures out to follow his dream. Gina Rodriguez is the voice of Mary; Zachary Levi is Joseph; Steven Yeun is the Donkey Bo; Aidy Bryant is Ruth the abandoned sheep; Keegan-Michael Key is the Dove; Kelly Clarkson is Leah the know it all horse; Anthony Anderson is Zach the boat; Kristin Chenoweth is the mouse that witnesses the big moment and is the storyteller; Oprah Winfrey is Debra the camel; Tyler Perry is Cyrus the camel; Tracy Morgan is Felix the camel; Ving Rhames is Thaddeus the dog; Gabriel Iglesias is Rufus the dog, Kristopher Jefferson is the old donkey, and Christopher Plummer is King Herrod.
“Drac is sad and Mavis thinks he needs a vacation, but he is lonely. … Then he falls in love with the ship’s captain,” said director Genndy Tartakovsky (“Star Wars”) about the storyline of “Hotel Transylvania 3,” starring Adam Sandler as Drac, Selena Gomez as Mavis and Andy Samberg as Jonathan, the human.
Sony Pictures Animation for the first time will release an animation short film, “Puppy,” a spinoff of “Hotel Transylvania.” Also directed by Tartakousky, the new film centers on about “Hotel’s” Dennis, who gets a huge pet. It will be partnered with the “Emoji” movie.
The “Spider-Man” animation will star Miles Morales — not Peter Parker. The Marvel character, created by Brian Michael Bendis, is African-American and Hispanic. The animation will be executive-produced by Chris Miller and Phil Lord (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) and directed by Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey.
“Anyone can wear that mask,” said Phil Lord about the message of “Spider-Man,” slated for release Dec. 21, 2018.
For more information about the Sony lineup, visit www.SonyPicturesAnimation.com.
Eunice Moseley’s “The Pulse of Entertainment” column has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million.