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2016: The Year Ahead In Animated Film

2015 was a year full of animated riches. Not one but two original Pixar films, plus new CG, 2D and stop-motion films from some of animation's biggest names and a host of exciting newcomers too. With 2016 now here, it's time for our annual look ahead to the animated films for the coming year. And this year looks no less packed, with two Disney originals, eagerly awaited sequels and a whole slew of amazing looking indies too. The year will hopefully hold many surprises too, but join us as we take a look at the year's biggest animation releases.

Kung Fu Panda 3

DreamWorks Animation's biggest current franchise without Dragon in its title returns for a third time. This installment sees Po reconnect with his roots, meeting not only his Biological father (voiced by Bryan Cranston) but a whole Panda village. When a supernatural threat arises, our monochrome hero has to try and train them all to defend themselves

ETA: January 29th (US) March 11th (UK)

Only Yesterday

Not a new film by any stretch of the imagination (it was made in 1991!), but Studio Ghibli and Isao Takahata's acclaimed animated feature is finally coming to North America, thanks to the fine folks at GKIDS. Sporting a shiny new dub featuring Star Wars breakout Daisy Ridley and Dev Patel, this is one classy affair.

ETA:  Out Now (New York) February 26th (US wide)


Rich Moore and Byron Howard's anthropomorphic take on the buddy cop movie looks like it's going to be a hoot. The trailers released so far suggest this will be a mix of some pretty goofy animal humour and some interesting parallels relating to race, tolerance, and identity. Due to be released in the UK as 'Zootropolis'.

ETA: March 4th  (US)  March 25th (UK)

Boy and The Beast

Mamoru Hosoda's follow up to Wolf Children proved a big hit in it's native Japan, and this year it's set to enchant a whole new audience.  A movie focused on the unexpected bond between a human boy and his beastly Guardian, the film played in limited locations last year, but should be opening much wider this year, via Funimation in the US and StudioCanal in the UK.

ETA: February (US)  TBC (UK)


The Oscar-nominated adult stop-motion feature from Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, is not quite like anything you'll have seen before. After opening Stateside at the very end of last year the film comes to the United Kingdom on a wave of positive buzz. That said, it's certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea.

ETA:  Out Now (US) March 11th (UK)

The Little Prince

Based on the children's classic, this French feature (actually directed by American Mark Osborne) combines CG and stop-motion to beautiful effect. The film frames the original story as a tale told to a young girl by her eccentric neighbour- an elderly man known as the Aviator,

ETA: 18th March (US) 2016 TBC (UK)

April and The Extraordinary World

French steampunk adventure set in an alternate 1940's Paris where France is still ruled by Napoleon's descendants,  This 2D animation sees the titular teen search for her missing scientist parents. Looks like another gem from GKIDS!

ETA:   25th March (US)

Angry Birds

Based on the hit videogame, it can't help but feel that this is arriving at least a couple of years too late. Although it's not clear who's clamouring for this one, it's happening and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. In all seriousness, the first trailer surprised many by being Not That Bad, with the film seemingly taking a fun 'anger management' angle on the set-up. We're keeping an open mind.

ETA:  May 13th (UK) May 20th (US)

The Secret Life of Pets

Like it or not, Minions was  2015's biggest animated movie. This, however, is arguably Illumination Entertainment's big test- how will they fare stepping outside the franchise that made their name for the first time? Their new movie has a headstart in that it has a universally appealing concept (what do our pets do when we're not around?). The first teaser was pretty great too, although whether the rest of the film can keep it up remains to be seen.

ETA:  June 24th (UK) July 8th (US)

Finding Dory

After two original Pixar films last year, this sequel to Finding Nemo sees them back in familiar waters. Yes, it's a sequel, but at least it's one most people want to actually see. Marlon and Nemo's forgetful fishy friend (voiced again by Ellen DeGeneres) takes centre stage as she goes in search of her family.

ETA: June 17th  (US) July 29th (UK)

Kubo and The Two Strings

The next release from the stop-motion wizards at LAIKA is a world away from anything they've made before. Based on Japanese mythology and looking set to push their skills even further, the first trailer ensures that this has gone right to the top of many animation fans most anticipated lists. We can't wait!

ETA:   August 19th (US) September 9th (UK)


2016's second release from Illumination is their first film written and directed by somebody from outside the studio. Namely Garth Jennings, the British director responsible for Son of Rambow and Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. The story centres around a koala named Buster who tries to attract business to his theatre via organising a singing competition, the film is set to Feature an all-star cast and over 85 songs. Really though, we're just excited to see what this talented director will bring to the world of animation

ETA : December 21st (US) 10th January 2017 (UK)


Disney's first princess movie since the phenomenally successful Frozen, Moana has big shoes to fill. Signs are good though, with legendary Disney vets Ron Clements and Jon Musker calling the shots, and the concept art beautiful.  Although the more traditional of the year's two flicks from The House Of Mouse, the Polynesian setting looks set to give it a fresh spin.

ETA: November 23rd (US)  December 2nd (UK)

When Marnie Was There

Having picked up another Oscar nomination for Studio Ghibli, we're confident that Hiromasa Yonebayashi's film should be arriving in the UK soon. The rights have been picked up by StudioCanal, who we'd expect to confirm a theatrical release date in the near future- to make the most of that wave of Oscar buzz while they can.

ETA: 2016 TBC (UK)


Ice Age: Collision Course Fifth outing for Blue Sky's blockbuster franchise   ETA:  July

Norm Of The North Generic looking tale of a Polar Bear in New York  ETA: Out Now (US) March (UK)

Storks Fun looking effort from Warner Animation, with Kelsey Grammar and Key and Peele ETA: September (US) October (UK)

Ratchet and Clank Another video-game based animation from Sony, this time based on a hit PlayStation series. ETA: 29th April (US)

Sausage Party Seth Rogen/ Evan Goldberg's R-rated animated comedy  ETA: August

Trolls  Remember those freaky Troll dolls? This DreamWorks movie brings them to the big screen. No. we don't know why either.  ETA: October

Top Cat Begins Prequel to Mexican adaptation of classic Hanna-Barbera toon  ETA May (UK)