Much like 2010, 2011 promises to be a banner year for the world of animation – as the release schedule includes an almost equal mix of highly-anticipated sequels and buzzed-about originals. Check out this list of the year’s theatrical animation releases:
The Scoop: The first film released by Touchstone Pictures since 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, Gnomeo and Juliet follows a pair of garden gnomes as they attempt to find love in spite of an ongoing war between their respective communities. Gnomeo and Juliet was originally planned as the latest release from Disney Feature Animation, but Pixar head honcho John Lasseter cancelled the project after he assumed control of the studio back in April of 2006. The film is set to feature almost a dozen of Elton John’s songs, including a new collaboration with Lady Gaga called “Hello, Hello.”
Release Date: February 11, 2011
The Scoop: Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski’s animation debut, Rango follows a pampered pet chameleon (Depp’s Rango) as he’s forced to take charge of a small town called Dirt and help protect its quirky residents from bandits. Though it’s being released by Paramount Pictures, Rango’s animation is actually being completed by Industrial Light & Magic – which marks the first time that George Lucas’ famed special effects studio has undertaken such an endeavor.
Release Date: March 4, 2011
Voices: Seth Green, John Cusack, and Elisabeth Harnois
The Scoop: Based on the book by Berkeley Breathed, Mars Needs Moms follows a plucky nine-year-old named Milo (Green) as he mounts a rescue mission after his mother (Cusack) is abducted by Martians. Mars Needs Moms marks the latest release from Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers Digital movie studio, and as such, the film has been completed using the controversial motion-capture animation process used in past movies like 2006’s Monster House and 2009’s Disney’s A Christmas Carol.
Release Date: March 11, 2011
The Scoop: The latest effort from Blue Sky Studios, Rio follows a rare bird (Eisenberg’s Blu) as he travels to Rio de Janeiro after learning that another of his kind resides there (Hathaway’s Jewel). The movie marks Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg’s first trip into the recording booth (Hathaway has lent her voice to 2002’s The Cat Returns and 2005’s Hoodwinked!), while director Carlos Saldanha is stepping out from the Ice Age series for the first time since 2005’s underwhelming Robots.
Release Date: April 8, 2011
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
The Scoop: After a wicked witch kidnaps Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler), Red (Panettiere) teams up with Granny (Close), Wolf (Patrick Warburton), and several other returning characters to bring the two children safely home. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil has been the source of some controversy within the animation world, as the film’s release has been delayed several times by the Weinstein Company – which led the company that produced the film, Kanbar Entertainment, to launch a lawsuit against the struggling studio.
Release Date: April 29, 2011
The Scoop: After defeating the evil Tai Lung and winning the respect of The Furious Five, Po (Black) has settled into a peaceful routine surrounded by his family and friends. But the kung-fu fighting panda is forced to do battle once more after a malevolent king (Gary Oldman’s Lord Shen) arrives on the scene, with his efforts assisted by several new characters. The movie marks the first time that a DreamWorks Animation release has been single-handedly directed by a female filmmaker, as Jennifer Yuh graduates from her behind-the-scenes work on films like 2002’s Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and 2005’s Madagascar.
Release Date: May 27, 2011
7. 'Cars 2'
Voices: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, and Michael Keaton
The Scoop: The first Pixar sequel not set within the Toy Story universe, Cars 2 follows Lightning McQueen (Wilson) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) as they participate in a series of races around the world – with problems ensuing after Mater finds himself caught up in a case of deadly mistaken identity. Cars 2 features a rare appearance by Pixar chief John Lasseter behind the camera, as the filmmaker, whose last effort was 2006’s Cars, tends to busy himself with the day-to-day operations of the busy studio.
Release Date: June 24, 2011
Voices: Jim Cummings, Tom Kenny, and Craig Ferguson
The Scoop: Winnie the Pooh returns to the big screen in this traditionally-animated adventure featuring appearances by all of the Hundred Acre Wood’s well-known residents, including Pooh himself, Tigger, Eeyore, and Owl. Winnie the Pooh marks the honey-loving bear’s first theatrical appearance since 2005’s Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, and the film has been designed to introduce a whole new generation to A.A. Milne’s beloved, timeless creation.
Release Date: July 15, 2011
The Scoop: In this prequel to the Shrek series, Puss in Boots (Banderas) is forced to team up with Humpty Dumpty (Galifianakis) and a fellow cat named Kitty (Hayek) as he attempts to steal the legendary goose that lays the golden eggs. The film, directed by Shrek the Third filmmaker Chris Miller, marks the first time that a DreamWorks Animation property has been given the spin-off treatment, and although nothing has been confirmed, Puss in Boots is likely to feature appearances by Shrek (Mike Myers), Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and the rest of the Far, Far Away gang.
Release Date: October 28, 2011
10. 'Happy Feet 2'
The Scoop: The incredible success of 2006’s Happy Feet, which grossed over $300 million at the worldwide box office, ensured that a sequel was all but inevitable, and Happy Feet 2 features the return of the first film’s director, George Miller, and many of its stars. Unfortunately, Brittany Murphy, who played Gloria in the original, died before she was able to complete her voice work for the film, though rumor has it that Yogi Bear actress Anna Faris will be taking over the role (while Pink will provide the character’s singing voice).
Release Date: November 18, 2011
The Scoop: This incredibly ambitious and possibly groundbreaking animated film takes its inspiration from the long-running Adventures of Tintin comic strip, with the storyline set to follow Tintin (Bell) and his loyal dog Snowy as they attempt to help their friend, Captain Haddock (Serkis), retrieve a family treasure. The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn is the first animated film to be directed by Steven Spielberg, with the film’s motion-capture animation style, which is the same process James Cameron used for the Pandora scenes in 2009’s Avatar, being helped along by Lord of the Rings filmmaker Peter Jackson.
Release Date: December 28, 2011