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The 15 Most Exciting Animation Projects In Production Now 2020


The animation industry is probably the biggest it has ever been. With animation of all kinds being produced the world over on a record scale, it will only continue to grow. As streaming becomes the prime way most of us consume our film and TV- even before the cinemas were forced to close- the distinction between movies and series is becoming less important. Because of this development, we've decided to rebrand our Most Exciting Animated Movies In Production feature as the most Exciting Animation Projects- now open to features, series, shorts or any other animation medium. To reflect this change in scope, we've also expanded it to feature 15 slots.

Another change is that we've scrapped the rule that an entry can't appear on any subsequent editions. The feature covers anything that can be considered in production, from early development to post-production. The list is also not in any particular order.

So without any further ado (whatever 'ado' might be) we present our most wanted animation projects in production now! What films and series are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments or via our usual social media channels!

All release dates subject to change.



Soul 

Pete Docter's 'spiritual successor' to Inside Out was originally due to be just around the corner, but due to that pesky pandemic has been pushed back. It should be worth the wait- and those extra months may even allow Pixar to add some extra polish. Following musician Joe Gardner's quest to find a way for his soul to return to Earth, we expect Docter to deliver another thoughtful, warm and funny film. Don't count on your tear ducts being left alone, either! Soul's trailers also show us a vibrant and buzzing version of New York that gives it a unique flavour among Pixar's films. This is perhaps due to the influence of acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Kemp Powers, who is on board as a writer and co-director.



ETA: November 2020 (Theatrical)

 

Maya And The Three

We're still waiting for Book Of Life director Jorge Guitterez's Untitled Kung Fu Space Western. But in the meantime, he's working on this limited series for Netflix that he's described as "the Mexican Lord Of The Rings". The series is a fantasy based in Mesoamerican mythology, featuring a lead character who is a half-god, half-human warrior princess, on a quest to find legendary warriors to save her people. The limited series format will allow for a more expansive story than a single feature could allow, but with production values that exceed what is usually possible in a series. And with Guitterez's unique style, this promises to be something very special indeed.


ETA: 2021 (Netflix)

 

Akira (New Anime)

Hollywood's decades-long quest to adapt Akira in live-action has never come to fruition, despite several close calls. And that's probably for the best. The news of a new adaptation in anime form though, is a different matter. The original movie is a classic without a doubt- but only scratches the surface of what's in the manga. There massive potential there for a more faithful adaptation in a serialised form. We don't yet know what format the new adaptation would take (a series or a series of films seems most likely) or who would be involved, but we are more than ready for a return trip to Neo Tokyo.



ETA:  TBC

 

Chicken Run 2

The original Chicken Run was Aardman Animation first feature-length film, and remains the highest-earning stop-motion film of all time. The ingenious concept of The Great Escape with chickens drew people in, but it's the characters and hilarious writing that really made the film take off. Which is why we have faith that whatever they have planned for this sequel, it's going to be worth the 20 year(!) wait and not just a hollow cash-in.


ETA:  TBC (Theatrical)

Connected

Sony Pictures Animation is arguably the most exciting of the major studios right now, riding high after shaking up the industry with Spider-Verse. This employs some of the tech developed for Spidey, but with a very different look. Connected has a wonderfully organic, hand-drawn and cartoony look to the visuals, which positively teem with life. The set-up's killer too, mixing the relatable story of a Dad wanting to reconnect with his teen daughter and a robot uprising. In actual fact, it's not just the 'bots, but all technology- from toilets to toasters that turns on humanity. Gravity Falls writer Mike Rianda makes his feature debut, co-writing and directing with fellow Falls alum Jeff Rowe. The film also boasts Lord and Miller as producers, and has among its voice cast the international treasure that is Olivia Colman.





ETA: October 2020 (Theatrical)


Animaniacs 

Reboots are a tricky proposition. How do you bring an older series into the modern era without losing what made it great in the first place? What do you change and what do you keep the same? Luckily, examples such as Ducktales, Danger Mouse, Voltron and She-Ra prove that it can be done. News of a new Animaniacs series on Hulu was welcomed, but somewhat cautiously. There can be few series that are less 1990's than Animaniacs, so how well it adapts to the 21st century remains to be seen. But with original voice cast members- and voice acting legends- Rob Paulsen, Tress MacNeille and Jess Harnell reprising their roles, we're hopeful they wouldn't sign on to a revival that didn't live up to the original.





ETA: September 2020 (Hulu- US)

 

Raya and The Last Dragon

We don't know much about the next feature from Walt Disney Animation Studio, and have yet to see any actual footage. However, the concept art revealed at last year's D23 looks gorgeous, and the idea of a fantasy world inspired by the cultures of Southeast Asia is something we've not seen from Disney before. It's also being brought to us by fresh talent- directors Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins are both making their feature debut and the script is from Crazy Rich Asians scribe Adele Lim. WDAS have been riding high recently, arguably giving Pixar a run for their money, and we don't expect this to be any different.

Concept art





ETA: February 2021 (Theatrical)


Invincible

Amazon's first foray into adult orientated animation was the wonderful Undone, a series that was something of a game-changer. Their next, superhero series Invincible sounds less groundbreaking, on paper at least. But considering that it's an adaptation of the acclaimed comic series co-created by Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, you can be sure it isn't going to be just another cape cartoon. The comic series follows a teenage son of a Superman-esque superhero who discovers powers of his own.

Original Comic artwork.
 ETA: TBC (Prime Video)

How Do You Live?

We know very little about Hayao Miyazaki's new film. But then we don't need to- IT'S A NEW HAYAO MIYAZAKI FILM- and that is automatically very exciting. It's apparently an action-adventure fantasy, inspired by a 1937 book by Gezaburo Yoshino. It's not a direct adaptation, but the titular book will have great significance to the film's protagonist.  There's no set release date, but it's still quite some way off- and that was before the current crisis and shutdown hit Japan, almost certainly delaying it yet further.




ETA: Eventually (Theatrical)

Adventure Time: Distant Lands

We were promised an Adventure Time movie years ago- but it somehow never materialised. HBO Max's miniseries epilogue might be the next best thing- or even better. Each hour-long episode will focus on a different character (or pair of characters): BMO, Finn and Jake, Princess Jellybean and Marceline and (strangely) Peppermint Butler. We're more than ready for a return to the land of Ooo!





ETA: Late 2020 (HBO Max- US)


Marvel's What If...

The first animated entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to Disney Plus. Adapted from a popular line of comics the series will explore alternate versions of the events and characters of the MCU. Images shown have teased "What if Peggy Carter took the super-soldier serum?", "What if Black Panther was Starlord?" and something where Captain America is a zombie. The series promises to take full advantage of the animated medium and seems to be using a 2D style true to its comic origins. Pretty much all the major MCU cast will be reprising their roles in the series, including Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans.


ETA: 2022 (Disney Plus)

 

Guillermo del Toro's Pinnochio

This on-again, off-again project has been in production for years, but now it's finally "on-again" at Netflix. Guillermo del Toro's first animated feature will be a dark and dramatic stop-motion adaptation of the classic fairytale. GDT's creative sensibilities are perfectly suited for animation, and stop-motion, in particular, seems like an ideal meeting of artist and medium. When we do finally get to see it, we expect great things. This will be an interesting counterpoint to the inevitable 'live-action' Disney adaptation currently in the works.

Concept art


ETA: TBC (Netflix)

 


Inside Job

Shion Takeuchi's CV includes a stint as a story artist at Pixar as well as writing on Gravity Falls and Disenchantment and was enough to land her a juicy overall deal with Netflix. Her first series for the streamer is a workplace comedy set in the shadow government, where every crazy conspiracy theory (the Illuminati, lizard people, Bigfoot) is true. It will focus on a female lead who must try and keep the truth under wraps. For extra cred, Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch is on board as executive producer on the project.

Shion Takeuchi.

ETA: TBC (Netflix)

Wolfwalkers

Song Of The Sea director Tomm Moore returns to the director's chair for his new film at Cartoon Saloon.  Steeped in Irish history, the film takes place when hunters sent by Oliver Cromwell (English puritan and well-known party-pooper, known for beheading King Charles I and cancelling Christmas) are trying to wipe out the country's wolf population. An unlikely freindship forms between a young apprentice hunter named Robyn and a wild native girl called Mebh. Moore's third film (co-directed by Ross Stewart) completes a loose trilogy of Irish folklore films, following SOTS and The Secret Of Kells. We've been excited about this for a long time, but it's finally tantalisingly close- although the fact that it's being distributed by Apple does leave us wondering quite where we'll be able to watch it as well as when.



ETA: 2020 TBC (Apple TV Plus, possibly Theatrical?)


Spider-Verse 2

The most exciting animated film of the 2010's deserves an exciting sequel. The big question remains, can they capture lightning in a bottle twice? There are reasons for some caution- neither the directors of writer of the original are returning.  Avatar and Voltron Legendary Defender co-creator Joaquim Dos Santos will make his feature debut on the film, which is to be written by Dave Callahan (writer of upcoming films Wonder Woman 84 and Shang-Chi as well a 2014'ss Godzilla).  Story details are being kept under wraps but it is said to delve more into the relationship between Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy. The announcement clip also teased a whole new slew of Spider-folk, including the notorious Japanese Spider-Man. With Lord and Miller still involved as producers, and much of the creative team veterans of the first film, chances seem good that it will live up to its illustrious predecessor. A female-led spin-off is also in the works.





ETA: October 2022 (Theatrical)

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