2006 was a very succesful year for animated movies. A dozen of them debuted in theaters worldwide, and even though not all of them were breakout hits (think Ant Bully, Everyone's Hero), most of them were at least able to pack theaters for several weeks, with some of them (Cars, Ice Age 2, Happy Feet) found their way into territory marked 'box office smash'. So, now we've seen the debut of 2006's last animated movie Happy Feet, it is time to look forward to 2007, which looks to be another banner year for (digital) animation (Story includes the trailers). If you want to see the animated movies for 2008 and beyond, then click here.
Bee Movie (November 2)
Barry B. Benson is a bee on a mission: When he finds out that humans eat honey, he decides to sue us. Yes, the first movie on this list has an original premise, and a voice cast that already sounds great before we have heard them speak a single word. Jerry Seinfeld will be small hero Barry, while Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, John Goodman and Chris Rock also star. What I've seen from the movie so far (very little) looks promising, although the (frankly brilliant and hilarious) first teaser trailer may have thrown people off guard. Still, early word of mouth is good and by the time this movie comes out, the hype can be enormous. The only problem is the fact that this movie is released at the end of the year, when crowds have already been wowed by movies like Ratatouille, Shrek the Third and Meet the Robinsons. Still, coming late in the year didn't exactly hurt Happy Feet either.
Delgo is an epic sci-fi/fantasy adventure that tells of the battle between two different races, and two young people from these races who are in love with each other, even though it's heavily frowned upon by their people. Hm, something tells me we've seen something like this before... The trailer looks pretty good, but it did not leave a big impression with me. The jokes are not that funny, the story not that original... Still, first looks can be deceiving, and I'm hoping Fathom Studios can hit big with their deubt feature, which they developed independently before Fox picked it up for distribution.
Enchanted (November 21)
Enchanted is part animation, part real action, and has a fun storyline at it's heart: a fairy tale princess is banished from the cartoon world to the real world by an evil queen, and she must struggle to return to where she came from. The movie starts people like Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden, whom we will probably all see in both animated form and in real life. Director Kevin Lima was responsible for Tarzan (amongst other movies), so we probably won't have to worry too much about the animated part of this movie. It seems like the type of movie young girls will flock to see, let's hope Disney makes it interesting enough for other people to enjoy as well.
Foodfight (November 16)
November is a busy month for animation fans, as this is the third movie to debut then. Foodfight doesn't seem like the most interesting choice to make however, it's storyline of food coming to life after the lights in their supermarket are turned off sounding a lot like classics like Toy Story. Still, the story does have some potential, and maybe the first trailer will change my opinion completely.
Happily N' Ever After (January 5)
I hope you're not bored yet with fairy tales with a twist, because that's what this movie is all about. A group of evil-doers, led by an evil stepmother, try to change things around in fairy tale land, but main character Ella (voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar) decides to start up a resistance to restore normal 'happily ever after'-order to her country. The trailer is actually pretty funny, and the movie could be a success in same class as Hoodwinked. Besides that, it's the first fairytale story and the first animated movie of the year, so that works to the movies advantage. Plus, the movie has an interesting voice cast, with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Sigourney Weaver, George Carlin, Andy Dick and the always reliable Patrick Warburton lending vocal support.
Hood versus Evil (tbc)
There's still a bit of uncertainty whether or not this movie is actually going to be released this year, but if it does, then I'm pretty sure it's going to do well. Since this is the sequel to Hoodwinked, which was a surprise hit, prompting the release of this second part being rushed along to capitalize on the success of the first. Making a sequel to Hoodwinked probably takes a lot less time than making a sequel to something like Shrek, since the animation was a few classes lower than you normally see in theaters, but this didn't stop the original from being a lot of fun to watch anyway.
Meet the Robinsons (March 29)
Disney follows up their manic Chicken Little with a a movie that actually seems to have more story development, and I've been following the making of this movie with a lot of interest. It's all about a boy genius who invents a machine that recovers forgotten memories, and then inadvertedly travels forward in time, meeting a family whose survival depends on his ingenuity. The animation looks beautiful, the story is interesting, and it's nice to see an animated movie with an original plot every once in a while. The trailer tries to show too many things in too little time, but there are some funny bits in it, plus it gives the impression that this might really be something special. And how can you not be interested in a movie that has the funniest T-rex in movie history?
Rataouille (June 28)
It's the new Pixar movie!
Oh, you need to know more before you are sure you want to see this picture? Okay then: Ratatouille is a little mouse who lives in a restaurant in Paris. He has dreams of one day becoming a chef himself, but his family laughs at his ambitions. Rataouille's trailer looks stunning, with Pixar amping up their animation quality even more, and it left a much better impression than the first Cars-trailer did. Could this be Pixar's finest hour?
Shrek the Third (May 18)
No matter how well any of the other animated movies are going to do next year, chances aren't really big that any of these movies will be as successful as this one, the third movie in the franchise that started the whole 'let's make fun of fairy tales'-trend. In the third one, Shrek must try to find a new heir to the throne of Far Far Away, or otherwise he will have to take over himself when King Harold is taken ill. In the meantime, Princess Fiona bands together with other princesses to stop Prince Charming, who threatens to take over the country himself. It's not really a question of whether or not this movie will be a success, more a question of: how huge will it be? And where's that Puss n Boots movie they promised?
Simpsons Movie (July 27)
They've taken their sweet time, but it's finally coming: The Simpsons movie! The trailer is short but sweet, mocking the type of digitally animted movies that populate the rest of this list. In the movie, Homer accidentally pollutes the river with toxic waste from the power plant, which gets him fired, and leads to a mass evacuation, possibly for good. The question is, of course, how well do the Simpsons translate to the movie screen? And: is 90 minutes of Simpsons too much of a good thing? Then again, those questions are more or less rethoric, since we all know this movie is going to be brilliant!
Surf's Up (June 8)
How frustrating must it be to be 'That second animated penguin movie'? Now that Happy Feet is packing theaters all over the world, the people behind Surf's Up have got their work cut out for them. Comparisons are going to be inevitable, and since Happy Feet turned out to be a great movie, there is an even bigger burden on the back of Cody Maverick, a young penguin who wants to prove to the world that he is the best dancer... Er... I mean the best surfer. Still, the trailer to this movie takes a whole different approach than most trailers in this genre, restraining from trying to show you everything that happens in the movie in dozens of different three second clips, instead telling an interesting story of how penguins have always been crazy about surfing. Before I saw the trailer, the movie didn't really appeal to me, but now? Bring it on!
TMNT (March 23)
2007 sees the hopefully glorious return of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this time in digitally animated form. Many people are wondering if crowds are really waiting for a new Turtles movie, but I think the trailer will convince both fans and non believers that this might actually be a fun flick to check out when it hits theaters.