Tuesday 30 December 2014

2015 in Animation: A Preview

As 2014 is closing as one of the most solid years for animation in recent memory, let's take a look at what lies ahead in the new year. Bear in mind that this list is just for mainstream animated films, as the independent and foreign fare get announced on the fly. Also, this list only includes fully animated films, so hybrids like Monster Trucks and Pixels are not included.  Here's the list of the animated films that are coming with some observations and (just for fun) an estimated Rotten Tomatoes score:

1. Strange Magic - 23 January, 2015

Directed by: Gary Rydstrom
Studio: Lucasfilm Animation

This film came out of nowhere two months ago and it's getting a very early release next year, which means it'll likely be either a complete failure or a surprise hit. The film is the first to be produced by Lucasfilm Animation, and Disney has given it an unassuming date. The film's trailer is charming, but it does seem that the story is a bit derivative, even if the characters and setting look fresh and original. The fact that a Pixar veteran is directing the film may be a point in its favour, but, overall, Strange Magic looks like a forgettable affair.

Estimated RT score: 50%-60%

2. Shaun the Sheep - 6 February, 2015

Directed by: Richard Starzak & Mark Burton
Studio: Aardman Studios

Aardman is one of the best animation studios around and most of their films are superb, (we can forget about Flushed Away...) and this one looks like anther winner for the studio. Similar to what they did with Wallace & Gromit, Aardman is taking one of their most beloved creations and giving it the big screen treatment. The trailers have been a delight, showing what we love about the characters, but setting them on a grand adventure. The film currently doesn't have a US release date, but I'm sure it'll get one eventually...

Estimated RT score: 80%-90%

3. Home - 27 March, 2015

Directed by: Tim Johnson
Studio: DreamWorks Animation

The newest DreamWorks Animation film has a cool design and colourful animation but the story seems a little bit stale, with nothing particularly exciting about it. Granted, it might be lousy marketing, but so far the film just has a "meh" feeling about it that could really affect the film's prospects. DreamWorks is capable of producing great films (like the breathtaking How to Train Your Dragon 2) but their main problem is maintaining that consistency, and Home, at least for now, doesn't look like a big hit.

Estimated RT score: 60%-70%

4. Inside Out - 19 June, 2015

Directed by: Pete Docter
Studio: Pixar Animation Studios

After taking a year off, Pixar is gearing up to release two films next year. The first one, Inside Out, has an intriguing premise, great character designs and a story that many have hailed as a "return to form" for a studio that has received lots of flack in recent years over troubled productions and the increase in their sequel output. Nonetheless, Inside Out seems poised to be another winner from Pixar. The fact that it's directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up) just adds more confidence to the project.

Estimated RT score: 80%-90%.

5. Minions - 10 July, 2015

Directed by: Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda
Studio: Illumination Entertainment

After two successful Despicable Me films, Illumination is giving their breakout stars their own adventure. Minions look like a laugh-out loud comedy, but without Gru and the girls to imbue heart into the proceedings, can it be any more than a passing diversion? Hopefully the film will deliver, because, if not, the world will start experiencing Minion-exhaustion - and what will Illumination do without their only profitable (and good) franchise?

Estimated RT score: 60%-70%

6. Hotel Transylvania 2 - 25 September, 2015

Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
Studio: Sony Pictures Animation

Genndy Tartakovsky is a very talented man. But the first Hotel Transylvania was a middling affair and barely passable entertainment. I don't expect the sequel to be anything different, with likely just more crass jokes and one-dimensional characters added to the proceedings. Bring on Popeye instead!

Estimated RT score: 30%-40%

7. The Peanuts Movie - 6 November, 2015

Directed by: Steve Martino
Studio: Blue Sky Studios

Blue Sky Studios has one of the weakest film résumés in the animation industry. After last year's disastrous Epic, there's not really much confidence left for this studio. Still, The Peanuts Movie could be the film that puts Blue Sky back on the map again. While the film is CG animated, the animation looks pleasant and respectful to the original TV specials. Promotional material so far has sold the movie as a nice and heartwarming holiday film and is doing a good job in conveying a nostalgic feeling that will surely get Peanuts fans to go see the film. This may be an opportunity for Blue Sky to step up its game and deliver a truly great film. Hopefully, they won't screw it up.

Estimated RT score: 70%-80%

8. The Good Dinosaur - 25 November, 2015

Directed by: Peter Sohn
Studio: Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar's second film for next year has had one of the most troubled productions in recent memory. Originally scheduled for May 2014, the film lost its director and got pushed back until November 2015. There were also reports that the film got a complete overhaul and that now it'll feature a new premise from what was originally conceived. However, the film now appears to be on the right track with a new director and some stunning concept art revealed. We'll see if Pixar can score two triumphs next year.

Estimated RT score: 70%-80%

9. Ratchet & Clank - Early 2015

Directed by: Kevin Munroe & Jericca Cleland
Studio: Rainmaker Entertainment

The film, based on the popular video game series of the same name, was announced on April 2013 but, aside from a teaser and a poster, not much has been revealed - not even a specific release date. The film will be an origin story about how the titular characters met. Considering that Rainmaker's first film was Escape from Planet Earth, the prospects don't look very good, but there's a chance this film will be more successful than its predecessor.

Etstimated RT score: 60%-70%

10. B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherwordly Operations - Release Date TBA

Directed by: Tony Leondis
Studio: DreamWorks Animation

The second DWA film due next year was originally scheduled for 5th June, 2015 ,but it got removed from the schedule without any new release date announced. Which is such a shame because the film's premise (about a top-secret agency that employs ghosts to defend humans from evil hauntings) - in contrast to Home's - sounds intriguing and interesting. Hopefully DWA will announce a new release date soon and we'll still be able to see this film next year.

Estimated RT score: 70%-80%

Which film are you most excited for? Sound off in the comments!


  1. Is Popeye already in production, or are they waiting to see what money they make off Hotel Transylvania to pay for it?

  2. Popeye is slated for 2016 but not specific release date yet. But it is in production.

  3. Renard N. Bansale31 December 2014 at 00:57

    Is the on-hiatus Studio Ghibli through Disney or GKIDS going to release WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE in the United States sometime in 2015?

  4. No word on that but I'm pretty sure GKIDS will pick up the rights for that one eventually.

  5. What about Kung Fu Panda 3 and TinkerBell and the Legend of the Neverbeast. Also I'd love if Me and My Shadow took the B.O.O. release date. That would be awesome!

  6. And The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and Paramounts first animated film Monster Trucks and Doug Sweetland's Storks

  7. As I said in the first paragraph, only fully animated films will be included. Spongebob and Monster Trucks have live-action segments. Kung Fu Panda 3 was moved to 2016 and Tinker Bell is not a theatrical release.

  8. Oh boo to you! Hotel Transylvania was excellent! Well, maybe not excellent, but it was fairly enjoyable and a lot of fun. I'm interested to see what they do with the sequel.

  9. My bad. In Australia all of the TinkerBell films get theatrical releases so I usually count them. I'm a bit of an animated movie nerd.