Here at We Bought a Blog, we pride ourselves on our ridiculous fandom of animated movies. To us, a movie can be every bit as serious when it is animated than many of the serious films that release throughout the year. After all, the genre remains extremely exciting on a year to year basis, with new technology and breakthroughs occurring year round. With several big studios leading the way, animation keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. So let’s check in on the market for the 2019 animated features. We’re going to go in order of release to keep you appropriately hyped.
The LEGO Movie: The Second Part – Feb. 8, 2019 (Warner Bros. Animation)
One of the most anticipated sequels of the year comes about five years after one of the biggest surprises in recent animation history. The LEGO Movie exploded onto the scene, with many calling it the very best animated film of the year. Its miss at the Oscars for Best Animated Feature is still considered one of the worst snubs of the decade. We get to return to our favorite LEGO characters this year, blending together some pretty spectacular worlds in the process. Color us excited, and while it is unlikely to live up to the surprise of the first film, it easily makes our most anticipated list.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – Feb. 21, 2019 (Dreamworks)
Toothless has a girlfriend? Hiccup got hot? These were the questions people asked when the first footage of the new How to Train Your Dragon film premiered, and there’s no surprise that it drew considerable interest. The first two films of the franchise were gold, and each can stake a real claim for being the best Dreamworks animated film to date. While the story seems to be a redux of the last film, spending time with these characters seems to be the name of the game this time out. With any luck, the new film can complete the trilogy in style.
This Magnificent Cake – March 1, 2019 (GKIDS)
The definition of an independent art house feature, This Magnificent Cake comes from overseas and will be released by GKIDS. The feature blends together stories of the rich at a hotel in the African jungle, revealing imperialist attitudes in the process. This is more intellectual than most animated features and uses stop-motion to tell a visually unique story. Even so, this could be a fun movie to check out at your local arthouse (it may also potentially find itself on the festival circuit).
Wonder Park – March 15, 2019 (Nickelodeon)
One of the films that surprisingly splurged on a Super Bowl ad, Wonder Park hopes to set itself up as an early year hit at the box office. Coming a few weeks after the release of How to Train Your Dragon, the Nickelodeon feature could have some strong weeks at the box office. The voice cast features some big names, including Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, Kenan Thompson, John Oliver, and Mila Kunis. However, it feels flat in the trailer. Still, it could surprise, so who knows.
Missing Link – April 12, 2019 (LAIKA)
Laika has emerged as an animation house that can legitimately challenge Disney when they release their top level films. The studio can also break outside of the Animated Feature category, especially after earning a Visual Effects nomination for Kubo and the Two Strings, and even contending for Original Score, Production Design, and even Costume Design. The artwork and craftsmanship of Laika are unparalleled. While this story looks more like a buddy road trip, featuring Zach Galifianakis and Hugh Jackman, this film could have a lot of heart. This one could be really exciting, so keep an eye on it to make big noise in April.
Okko’s Inn (GKIDS)
In a two-night, limited engagement run, Okko’s Inn looks to pave the way for GKIDS to run several films into the race at the 2020 Oscars. Former animator turned director Kitarô Kôsaka may have the style to make Okko’s a top-tier contender. After all, he has learned from the best in the world while working as an animator on The Wind Rises and Akira during his long career. The story follows a young girl whose parents have died in a car accident, and when she goes to live at her Grandmother’s Inn, she meets the friendly ghosts who live there. The novel the story is based on has sold more than 3 million copies, and this could become a phenomenon if played correctly.
UglyDolls – May 3, 2019 (STX)
A few years ago, Sing took the American Idol format and turned it into a feature film using cute animals. That feature did well financially and earned some Golden Globe nominations on top of that. Given the success of the pseudo-jukebox musical, it makes sense that audiences would like more movies in that vein. Enter UglyDolls, a film that focuses on bringing together musical talent to create a jukebox musical of its own. Headlined by Kelly Clarkson, other musicians including Nick Jonas, Janelle Monae, Blake Sheldon, and Pitbull. It should serve as nice counterprogramming to Avengers: Endgame, or it’s going to get swamped out of theaters. Time will tell.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 – June 7, 2019 (Illumination)
The first film was fairly rote in its storytelling and it is curious to see if anyone was clamoring for a second Secret Life of Pets film. That said, they replaced Louis C.K. with Patton Oswald, an undeniable upgrade (especially for a kid’s film). The first movie made a ton of money, earning more than $100 million in its first weekend. That kind of cash makes this a valuable property for Universal/Illumination. What really matters is if the movie can continue to market its premise well. That will make all the difference and help establish The Secret Life of Pets as a stronger brand moving forward.
Toy Story 4 – June 22, 2019 (Pixar)
Watch out world for Toy Story 4, the latest sequel from Pixar to make it to the big screen. While sequel-itus has struck Pixar in a bad way in recent years, Toy Story gets a pass because of their history. It seems unlikely the film can live up to the hype that will surround the film. The new characters, namely Forky (Tony Hale), Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key), and Bunny (Jordan Peele) seem fun. However, the original trilogy is nearly untouchable. Giving Bo Peep (Annie Potts) a new look and letting Woody (Tom Hanks) go after her should pave the way for some promising moments. Ultimately, this feels like a fun road trip film, and getting to spend time with Buzz, Woody, and the gang makes this all worth it.
The Lion King – July 19, 2019 (Disney)
What? You say this is not an animated movie? I disagree. It was filmed on a stage, and every character will be animated. Films like The Adventures of Tintin qualified as animated features when they released, even as they used motion capture. If we’re being honest with ourselves, this is a remake of an animated film, so I’m counting it. We should be excited for the film, but at the same time, this Disney remake train wants to wear us out in 2019. We get Dumbo, Aladdin, and Lion King all in six months. Not sure Disney should go this way in the future.
Wish Dragon – July 26, 2019? (Sony Pictures Animation)
There’s no indication on when this movie will hit theaters, but the cast is too good to overlook. Wish Dragon brings the combined powers of Constance Wu, Jackie Chan, John Cho, Will Yun Lee, Bobby Lee, Jimmy O. Yang, Ian Chen and Jimmy Wong together. The film seems to follow a boy who discovers a dragon, but what exactly will unfold is still up in the air. The film comes from Sony Pictures Entertainment, who also released Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse last year. Conflicting sources put the film’s release on July 26, but hopefully, they move it to later in the year. Sadly, it does not seem wise to open one week after The Lion King. A different window could help it get some strong traction with audiences.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 – Aug. 16, 2019 (Sony Pictures Animation)
Why? Dear god why? Another Angry Birds Movie is on the way, and there’s no reason we deserve this. The first was one of the worst movies of the year in 2016. This is more based on the wasted potential of the cast than anything else. The first one made a ton of money, but I’m not certain there will be demand for the second in the franchise. It may run into an issue with the Playmobile movie (you read that right) coming into theaters the same weekend.
Spies in Disguise – Sept. 13, 2019 (20th Century Fox)
This idea seems a bit weird, and when you hear the development deal behind the movie, the prospects look worse. Blue Sky Animation paid big bucks to adapt a short film, Pidgeon: Impossible (watch here) and then drastically alter the premise. In what can only be described as James Bond meets The Emperor’s New Groove, Will Smith will be turned into a pigeon. The cast looks fun, with Tom Holland, DJ Khalid, and Ben Mendelsohn also on board. This could be fun, or this could be rough.
Abominable – Sept. 27, 2019 (Dreamworks)
Last year we got Smallfoot. This year, Dreamworks releases Abominable. Little is known about the movie at the moment, but here’s fair reason to imagine it will be about Yetis/Abominable Snowmen. The story revolves around a group of people who encounter a young Yeti, using the interaction to embark on an experience of a lifetime. It’ll be curious to see how Dreamworks approaches the film, especially with Missing Link earlier in the year. The cast stars Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, and Tsai Chin, making for a film that might actually do better overseas than in America.
The Addams Family – Oct. 18, 2019 (MGM)
Get ready for the world’s spookiest family to return in style. Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, the directors of Sausage Party, the latest incarnation of the popular family drops just in time for Halloween. Apparently, the film can’t help itself, but rumors persist that the film pits the famed family against a reality TV series. Hopefully, that is not the case, but the comedy hijinks that should ensue still make this a highly anticipated film. However, this may be more in line for a big box office (a la Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch) than a critical hit. The voice cast includes Oscar Isaac (Gomez), Charlize Theron (Morticia), Chloë Grace Moretz (Wednesday), Nick Kroll (Uncle Fester), Finn Wolfhard (Pugsley), and Bette Midler (Grandmama).
Frozen 2 – Nov. 22, 2019 (Disney Animation)
There’s no question that Frozen seemed to take over the world when it released in 2013. The movie seemed like it could not be stopped. It just earned more and more money with each passing day. The billion-dollar franchise spawned numerous spin-offs in the years since the first film, so it is unclear if Disney accidentally sapped the brand of its power. The film is going to earn a lot of money, and as the last big animated film of 2019, it stands to have the box office to itself for weeks. Releasing just before Thanksgiving is clearly the right move, especially after the success this created last time. The film will add some new characters, including Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown. Interesting additions to the new film to be sure.
Farmageddon: A Shaun the Sheep Movie – 2019, No Specific Date Yet (Aardman)
One of the best uses of slapstick comedy, Shaun the Sheep excelled when the first film released in 2015. The first film earned a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination and deserved every accolade possible. The movie was cute, adorable, and funny. Plus Aardman studios knows how to make claymation/stop motion films to perfection. The floor on this film will probably be a three-star film, and when that’s your floor, you know these movies are simply a blast.
Funan – 2019 (GKIDS)
Watch out for this to make a very strong push for the Oscar next year. The film is a dramatic telling of director Denis Do’s family story. His family lived in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime during the 1970s. This one has already started picking up awards at Animation film festivals, and with GKIDS success, they could push this one hard. Sequels rarely win the Oscar, and even though Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 feel like the frontrunners, what if they slip? It is hard to imagine an animated film in 2019 will take on a more serious topic than Funan. GKIDS has a lot going for it, and this one might be their best chance to take home Oscar gold.
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles – 2019 (GKIDS)
One of the more interesting films of the year from independent or foreign markets will be Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles. The film received a Jury Prize from the Animation Is Fun Film Festival in 2018, and should appeal to filmmakers for its subject matter. The story follows director Luis Buñuel as he attempts to craft his 1933 documentary Las Hurdes. Directed by Salvador Simó, Simó uses animation to dive deep into Buñuel’s story and attempt to tell the story through a unique medium at the same time.
Year-In-Advance Oscar Predicted Nominees
1. Toy Story 4
2. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
3. Missing Link
4. Frozen 2
5. Okko’s Inn
What do you think of the animated feature breakdown? Which features are you most excited to watch? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below!