This is part of our 2020 Preview. Follow along as we explore all the things that have us mildly hopeful in the new year.
For the past several years, Disney has been dominating the animation game. While that’s totally understandable given that the studio puts out great animated movies with powerhouse marketing campaigns behind them, it’s a shame for other companies whose own quality releases haven’t conquered the world in the same way. This year will see Disney continue to find success, but hopefully, audiences will show up to support other stuff as well.
There are plenty of exciting movies to look forward to in 2020’s realm of animation — from tentpole theater releases to streaming originals to DTV fare — so there’s going to be something for everyone. Maybe you’re excited to see the next sequel to a hit movie that you love. Perhaps you want to enjoy something more original that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves just yet. Regardless of where you sit, you should find something on this list worth adding to your calendar. Enjoy.
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe
The first Phineas and Ferb feature, Across the 2nd Dimension, is a smart, action-packed adventure that offers something for kids and adults alike. Therefore, there’s no reason to believe that the step-siblings’ next outing — which will be a Disney+ exclusive — won’t offer the same kind of laughs and thrills. It’s also been four years since the show ended, so for fans, it will be nice to spend time with these characters again. In Candace Against the Universe, Phineas and Ferb must navigate the galaxy in order to rescue their sister, who has been abducted by aliens. (Release Date: TBD).
Superman: Red Son
Mark Millar’s Red Son boasts one of the most interesting concepts in the Superman vault. The story reimagines the character’s legacy, wondering what would happen if the American icon had been raised in the Soviet Union instead of a farm in Kansas. That’s the general cusp of the story, and the upcoming movie will be a treat if it does its source material justice. If DC’s latest live-action version of the hero was too fascist and Christ-like for you, then perhaps this socialist take will tickle your fancy. (Release Date: February 25th).
Cinesite is the production company behind last year’s The Addams Family animated feature, a movie that I very much enjoyed. Their next will be more original, and it has some impressive talent involved in the form of directors David Silverman and Raymond S. Persi, along with writers Joel H. Cohen, Rob LaZebnik, and John Frink. These names will be familiar to some animation fans because of their work on The Simpsons, but they’ll be looking to expand their reputations beyond that show with Extinct. The story follows two creatures that travel forward in time to modern-day Shanghai, where they learn that their species no longer exists. This subsequently leads to the creatures traveling back in time to prevent whatever caused their extinction. (Release Date: TBD).
The Croods 2
The prehistoric family returns in this long-awaited sequel to the 2013 Academy Award-nominated hit. Featuring the voice talents of Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Kelly Marie Tran, and Emma Stone, the new movie will see the titular clan come up against another family in a battle to prove which is the most evolved of the two groups. While it would be nice to see the folks over at DreamWorks Animation turn their attention to more original fare, this sequel still sounds like a lot of fun. (Release Date: December 23rd).
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War
The long-gestating Justice League Dark live-action movie probably won’t ever happen. In fact, with Guillermo del Toro no longer attached to the project, it probably shouldn’t, either. That said, DC’s spookiest crusaders have enjoyed some success in the realm of the Animated Universe, and that’s good enough. This sequel to the highly enjoyable 2017 movie will see the titular heroes go up against a new threat, but plot details are being close to the vest for now. The rumor is that the story will involve the New Gods, and the Teen Titans are also expected to show up. (Release Date: TBD).
Starring Constance Wu and John Cho, Wish Dragon is about a young boy who befriends a fire-breathing beastie that can make wishes come true. The story is set in contemporary China, as Sony Pictures Animation is aiming to tell a diverse range of stories that embrace different cultures from around the world. Hopefully, this will be the first of many successful movies that stem from this admirable international initiative. (Release Date: TBD).
Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet
The Detective Conan series is 24 entries deep (excluding spinoffs) and shows no signs of slowing down. But the franchise is popular for a reason — it’s fun. Most long-running movie franchises lose steam eventually, but Detective Conan will outlive us all and deservedly so. Part of its appeal is down to the fact that each movie features an original story, so even the most diehard fans of the manga titles can go into the films knowing that they’re going to see something that hasn’t been lifted from other source material. In The Scarlet Bullet, the titular detective must investigate a kidnapping plot that involves the FBI and the 2020 Olympic Games. (Release Date: April 17th).
The Scooby-Doo franchise has been a pop culture cornerstone since the 1960s, and its longevity is the result of talented creators finding new ways to keep it interesting after all these years. Scoob! marks the latest attempt to bring the pooch back to the big screen following the entertaining live-action movies from the early 2000s, but don’t expect this flick to be a retread of what came before. Scoob! will go back in time and explore the origins of the titular dog and his gang, all the while they try to stop a ghost dog from being unleashed on the world. If that’s not enough to sell you, then Mark Wahlberg, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Will Forte, and some other recognizable names make up the star-studded cast of voice talents. (Release Date: May 15th).
Bob’s Burgers: The Movie
Like The Simpsons before it, the animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers is making the leap to the big screen. And while the movie aims to answer some of the big questions that fans have been dying to know for years (like how Louise got her bunny ears), creator Loren Bouchard also wants to attract moviegoers who aren’t familiar with the show. Bob’s Burgers is one of the best sitcoms on television and it’s been consistently enjoyable for 10 seasons, and the Belcher’s have earned their own theatrical adventure. (Release Date: July 17th).
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run
At this point, moviegoers are used to seeing Spongebob on the big screen. The core audience for these movies are people who grew up with the show, and the kids who have fallen in love with it courtesy of reruns and the previous films. However, Sponge on the Run is an attempt to bring something new to the table, as it marks the first-ever CGI-animated outing to feature the talking sponge and his friends. Like Scoob!, Sponge on the Run is also an origin story, so it seems as if Paramount is out to softly reboot a franchise that’s been around for over 20 years. Sometimes change is good, and as long as the movie retains the franchise’s heart and wacky sense of humor, the stylistic change could be refreshing. Awkwafina and Keanu Reeves are also involved, and that’s never a bad thing. (Release Date: May 22nd).
2019 was a big year for this iconic anime franchise, as the episodes of the original series finally landed on Netflix after being without a US distributor for years. With interest in the saga renewed as a result, anime fans can look forward to this awkwardly titled conclusion to the Rebuild of Evangelion film series. That said, given that the Rebuild saga is a retelling of the original television series that makes a few changes, I highly suspect that some people won’t be awaiting this movie with open arms. (Release Date: TBD).
The Mitchells vs The Machines
Directed by Gravity Falls’ Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe and produced by The Lego Movie’s Phil Lord and Chris Miller, this movie has some serious talent involved in its creation. The story sounds super fun as well. The Mitchells vs. the Machines follows a dysfunctional family whose road trip gets disrupted when technology decides to turn on humanity. With these creators attached, expect this one to hilariously skewer society’s obsession with machinery and devices, while offering audiences some food for thought about their attachment to the technology that will come to life and kill them someday. (Release Date: September 18th).
When Pete Docter replaced John Lasseter as the chief creative officer of Pixar in 2018, he made a promise to create more originals following years of the studio relying on sequels. Soul is proof that he’s sticking to that promise, and it marks one of two new movies that the brand will unleash in 2020. Starring Jamie Foxx as a jazz musician whose soul gets transported out of his body, the movie looks like a return to the imaginative and life-affirming fare that the studio was built on. The voices of Tina Fey and Daveed Diggs will also feature, but the most exciting addition to the cast is The Roots’ Questlove, a musical genius who will hopefully contribute to the film’s soundtrack. (Release Date: June 19th).
Raya and the Last Dragon
Disney Animation’s last two releases have been sequels, but at least their next movie is an original project that’s heavily inspired by Southeast Asian culture. Raya and the Last Dragon takes place in a magical world called Kumandra and follows a warrior who sets out to track down the last dragon in the land. The film was written by Adele Lim, who co-penned the excellent Crazy Rich Asians. Cassie Steele and Awkwafina are also voicing the warrior and dragon characters, respectively. (Release Date: November 25th).
Following the positive response to last year’s Klaus (which just earned an Oscar nomination over Frozen II!), Netflix will be hoping that its next forays into feature-length animated fare will be just as successful. The Willoughbys is especially exciting as it involves some marquee talent and has a slightly twisted premise. Adapted from Lois Lowry’s novel of the same name, the comedy centers on a group of children who want to become orphans, so they hatch a plan to dispose of their parents. The film comes from the mind of Kris Pearn (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2) and stars Maya Rudolph, Terry Crews, Will Forte, and Ricky Gervais. (Release Date: TBD).
Over the Moon
The next Netflix Original to make the cut is this musical adventure from Glen Keane. It centers around a girl who builds a rocket ship and takes off into space to find the Moon Queen. Keane’s Dear Basketball won the Best Animated Short Film prize at the 2018 Academy Awards, so he’s a great choice to helm some fresh content for the streaming service. The film will premiere theatrically in China before hitting the streamer later in the year, with viewers around the world able to enjoy it at the same time. (Release Date: TBD).
Apple’s streaming service also wants in on the animated action, and the company has turned to Cartoon Saloon to make it happen. The studio is highly respected in the animation game having produced critically acclaimed gems like Song of the Sea and The Breadwinner, so perhaps Wolfwalkers is a sign of Apple’s intention to associate itself with prestigious projects. The film follows the daughter of a hunter who comes to Ireland to wipe out the country’s wolves, only to have a change of heart when she realizes that they aren’t so bad after all. (Release Date: TBD).
Pixar’s second feature on the list (but first to release) follows two elf brothers (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) who leave the safety of the suburbs to find out if magic still exists. Of course, given that this is a Pixar movie, it’s obvious that magic will exist. The exciting part is discovering the magical treats that the movie has in store for audiences. The project is also a personal one for writer-director Dan Scanlon, as it deals with the theme of parental loss. Sadly, Scanlon lost his father at a young age, but he’s taken that experience to hopefully create a movie that enables younger viewers to learn all about death in a safe manner. (Release Date: March 6th).