A Guide To 22 Major Animated Features Coming Out In 2022

Table of Contents Hotel Transylvania: TransformaniaThe Ice Age Adventures of Buck WildLuckTurning RedThe Bad GuysDC…

A Guide To 22 Major Animated Features Coming Out In 2022


At the same time, the SVOD market will become more diverse in 2022. For the first time, our annual feature preview contains an Amazon release. Apple TV+ is due to release Skydance’s Luck, only its second animated feature. Many Dreamworks and Illumination films will start becoming exclusive to Peacock as early as 45 days after their theatrical and PVOD release. And now Disney+ is getting exclusive features that were intended for it in the first place, not rerouted due to Covid.

When it comes to stories, franchises will continue to dominate. By our count, half the films in our list — 11 in all — are based on existing animation or entertainment properties. Another four are adaptations of existing books or films. That leaves seven original stories. Pixar will release its fourth in a row with Turning Red, although that run will end with Lightyear, an origin story for Buzz Lightyear of Toy Story.

A side note: we’re omitting animation/live-action hybrids this year, as there are simply too many. Animation is more central to Hollywood storytelling than ever before.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

Directors: Jennifer Kluska, Derek Drymon
Production company: Sony Pictures Animation
U.S. distributor: Amazon Studios
Release date: January 14

A malfunctioning invention turns the Hotel’s monsters into humans, while human Johnny becomes a monster. The final installment in SPA’s ghoulish film series was removed from the theatrical release calendar — and its natural pre-Halloween slot — as Covid continued to cause havoc. It has ended up on streaming, just like the studio’s three previous features, although this one has gone to Amazon (not Netflix). It’s rare for the company to make such a high-profile animation acquisition.

The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild

Directors: John C. Donkin, Marshall Fels Elliott
Production company: 20th Century Animation
U.S. distributor: Disney+
Release date: January 28

Disney may have shut down Blue Sky, but it still has the studio’s IP, including the most lucrative of all: the Ice Age franchise. Expect the company to milk it for a good while, starting with this Disney+ feature. It is centered on the Simon Pegg-voiced weasel Buck, who first appeared in the franchise’s third film, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. The animation was outsourced to Vancouver’s Bardel Entertainment (Rick & Morty).

Luck

Director: Peggy Holmes
Production company: Skydance Animation
U.S. distributor: Apple TV+
Release date: February 18

The first feature release from young studio Skydance Animation is described as a comedy “about a very unlucky girl who discovers the world of good and bad luck.” Luck will be the first animated feature in a while to bear the imprimatur of John Lasseter, who moved to Skydance after leaving Pixar/Disney amid allegations of sexual harassment. The release date is tentative: it was announced when Luck was still bound for a theatrical release, and Apple, which acquired the film in February, has yet to confirm that it is sticking to it.

Luck.

Turning Red

Director: Domee Shi
Production company: Pixar
U.S. distributor: Disney
Release date: March 11

Pixar returns with its fourth straight original feature, and its first to be helmed solely by a woman. She is Domee Shi, director of the Oscar-winning short Bao, a biting satire about parenthood and dumplings. That film’s offbeat humor seems also to run through Turning Red, a Toronto-set tale of a teenage girl who turns into a big red panda when excited. There are shades of Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro — is it a coincidence the girl is called Mei?

The Bad Guys

Director: Pierre Perifel
Production company: Dreamworks
U.S. distributor: Universal
Release date: April 22

The first of Dreamworks’ two 2022 releases is another refugee from the Covid release chaos of 2021. Based on Aaron Blabey’s popular children’s books, The Bad Guys wants to do for heist movies what Shrek did for fairytales. The story follows five crooks as they taken on “their most challenging job yet: going good.” Dreamworks stalwart Perifel co-directed the studio’s short film Bilby; his credits as an animator include the Kung Fu Panda films and Shrek Forever After.

DC League of Super-Pets

Directors: Jared Stern, Sam Levine
Production company: Warner Animation Group
U.S. distributor: Warner Bros.
Release date: May 20

The Justice League are replaced by their pets in this all-woofing, all-meowing DC film, which is based on the Legion of Super-Pets comics. The cast is led by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Krypto the Superdog (no prizes for guessing whose pet that is). Warner Animation Group is in full-on IP exploitation mode at the moment, and this, its sole 2022 release, is no exception.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie

Director: Loren Bouchard
Production company: 20th Century Animation
U.S. distributor: 20th Century Studios (Disney)
Release date: May 27

After bouncing around the Covid-era calendar — and briefly being pulled entirely — the Bob’s Burgers spin-off finally has what looks like a firm release date, two years after it was initially meant to come out. Disney inherited the movie from Fox, and by this quirk of fate, it will become the House of Mouse’s first hand-drawn feature since 2011’s Winnie the Pooh. The plot, for now, is under wraps.

The Bob's Burgers Movie

Lightyear

Director: Angus MacLane
Production company: Pixar
U.S. distributor: Disney
Release date: June 17

Above, we mentioned Pixar’s run of original features. Well, this will end it. Lightyear isn’t a sequel but a spin-off: an origin story about the astronaut who inspired the Buzz figure of Toy Story fame. Finding Dory co-director MacLane is in the director’s chair. This the last feature to have been greenlit before Pete Docter took over Pixar’s creative reins, so wait for the studio’s 2023 slate and beyond for a sense of his vision.

Minions: The Rise of Gru

Director: Kyle Balda
Production company: Illumination
U.S. distributor: Universal
Release date: July 1

Hard-hit by the pandemic, The Rise of Gru has been delayed by two whole years. The prequel-meets-sequel belongs to the highest-grossing animation franchise of all time, and Universal was loath to condemn it to streaming. Narrative chronology places the film between 2015’s Minions and the Despicable Me trilogy (2010, 2013, 2017); if Minions revealed where the gibbering yellow henchmen came from, this film provides an origin story for the villain who becomes their commander.

Under the Boardwalk

Director: David Soren
Production company: Paramount Animation
U.S. distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release date: July 22

Paramount’s animation division is still looking for a hit original feature. Could this musical comedy about hermit crabs who live on the Jersey Shore be it? The premise has notes of Romeo and Juliet: tensions between the land crab townies and sea crab tourists rise after members of the two clans fall in love. Soren (Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie) directs and animation is provided by DNEG’s young feature animation unit, whose maiden release was Ron’s Gone Wrong in 2021.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Director: Joel Crawford
Production company: Dreamworks
U.S. distributor: Universal
Release date: September 23

The time has come for the very-long-gestating sequel to 2011’s Oscar-nominated Puss in Boots, itself a spin-off from Shrek. Antonio Banderas returns to voice the swashbuckling moggie, who learns at the outset that he has only one of his nine lives left. This is the first Shrek/Puss film in more than a decade; it remains to be seen how much life the franchise has left in it.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)

Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Production company: Sony Pictures Animation
U.S. distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Release date: October 7

The sequel to one of the most lauded animated features of recent years will be one of the most hyped of 2022. Producer Amy Pascal disclosed back in 2018 that it would focus on a romance between Miles and Gwen, the original film’s teen Spider-People stars. The first teaser backs this up, while the official synopsis promises that the pair will team up with other Spider-People “to face off with a villain more powerful than anything they have ever encountered.” The movie has an all-new directorial team: Powers (co-director and co-writer, Soul), Thompson (production designer, original Spider-Verse), and Dos Santos (director, Avatar: The Last Airbender). Oh, and that “Part One” in the title tells us there’ll be more.

Strange World

Director: Don Hall
Production company: Walt Disney Animation Studios
U.S. distributor: Disney
Release date: November 23

Having pumped out two features in 2021 — Raya and the Last Dragon and Encanto — Walt Disney Animation Studios is set to release just the one in 2022. Strange World returns to a genre the studio doesn’t attempt very often: the action-adventure story. It follows the Clades, a legendary family of explorers, and unfolds in an “uncharted and treacherous land” populated by fantastical creatures. Raya director Hall is onboard, as is Raya co-writer Qui Nguyen (who writes and co-directs here).

Strange World

Untitled Super Mario film

Directors: Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic
Production company: Illumination
U.S. distributor: Universal
Release date: December 21

Nintendo has been chary of converting its IP to films and series — it may have been burnt by the reactions to the last Mario film, the 1993 live-action oddity. Yet here we are: it is working with Minions studio Illumination to produce a fully animated franchise movie. Little is known, other than the cast, which features Chris Pratt as Mario, Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach, Jack Black as Bowser, and Keegan-Michael Key as squeaky fungus Toad.

Mario poster

Blazing Samurai

Directors: Mark Koetsier, Rob Minkoff
Production company: Aniventure
U.S. distributor: TBA
Release date: 2022

A dog with dreams of becoming a samurai ends up as the sheriff in a town of cats. This spin on Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles is the second release from Aniventure, a U.K. production company dedicated to developing “a new economic model” for animated features, following 2021’s Riverdance: The Animated Adventure. There’s big Disney talent onboard: the film is helmed by Minkoff, a director on 1994’s The Lion King, and Koetsier, a veteran animator and story artist.

Blazing Samurai

Untitled Night at the Museum movie

Director: TBC
Production company: 21 Laps
U.S. distributor: Disney
Release date: 2022

Buried in the deluge of announcements on Disney’s 2020 Investor Day was this, an animated installment in the supernatural comedy franchise. Shawn Levy, director of the original trilogy, is producing, and the film is coming to Disney+ in 2022. Little else has been confirmed.

Wendell and Wild

Director: Henry Selick
Production company: Netflix Animation
U.S. distributor: Netflix
Release date: 2022

This has been a long time coming: stop-mo supremo Selick hasn’t released a film since 2009’s Coraline, and has been working on this one for more than half a decade. The story follows the demon brothers of the title, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, as they escape the underworld and encounter demon-duster Kat; Peele (Get Out) wrote the script with Selick. The film is part of the bumper crop of home-grown animated films Netflix is set to release in 2022: see below.

The Sea Beast

Director: Chris Williams
Production company: Netflix Animation
U.S. distributor: Netflix
Release date: 2022

Here’s another animation filmmaker’s passion project bankrolled by Netflix. Williams, a director of Disney’s Big Hero 6, writes and directs this tale of adventure on the high seas, which pits hunters against monsters (inspired by the whimsical beasts depicted on ancient nautical maps). Note that the film was previously known as Jacob and the Sea Beast.

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

Director: Richard Linklater
Production company: Netflix Animation
U.S. distributor: Netflix
Release date: 2022

Linklater is one of the rare directors to have made their names in live action, but then repeatedly turned to animation and used the medium in thoughtful ways. This story of the moon landing, told from the perspectives of both NASA and a child watching the event on tv, is his third animated feature. The film incorporated a live-action shoot, and “will be partially animated using techniques similar to rotoscoping,” The New Yorker reports. Sounds a lot like the technique used on Linklater’s previous animated films, Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Production company: Netflix Animation
U.S. distributor: Netflix
Release date: 2022

Del Toro is another live-action filmmaker who has shown great interest in animation — he’s behind Netflix’s Tales of Arcadia trilogy — but this is the first animated feature he’s directing. First announced in 2008, his adaptation of the classic fable has been through various incarnations, ending up as a stop-motion musical at Netflix. The director recently said the film would be released in the last quarter of 2022. Don’t confuse it with the other Pinocchio movie coming out in 2022: a live-action take from Robert Zemeckis.

My Father’s Dragon

Director: Nora Twomey
Production companies: Netflix Animation, Cartoon Saloon
U.S. distributor: Netflix
Release date: 2022

A boy goes in search of a captive dragon in this adaptation of Ruth Stiles Gannett’s children’s novel series of the same name. Twomey, a co-founder of Cartoon Saloon, previously directed Afghanistan-set drama The Breadwinner; this film finds the acclaimed Irish studio back in more familiar territory, namely folkloric fantasy. The screenplay is by Pixar scribe Meg LeFauve (Inside Out).

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

Directors: Ant Ward, Andy Suriano
Production companies: Nickelodeon Animation
U.S. distributor: Netflix
Release date: 2022

The turtles fight to repel a Krang invasion in this spin-off from the Nickelodeon series, which launched in 2018 with a revamped 2d look for the famous franchise. Ward and Suriano, who developed the series, are directing the film.

Images at top, left to right: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One),” “The Bad Guys,” “Turning Red”





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