Toon-ing In: What’s coming for animation in 2019
2018 was certainly a notable year for me and other fans of the animation industry. Amazing films such as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Isle of Dogs, and Incredibles 2 premiered and got nominated for some prestigious awards. Shows such as Craig of the Creek, Disenchantment, and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power all made their debut, and longer-standing shows such as Adventure Time, Big Hero 6: The Series, Ducktales, Star vs. The Forces of Evil, and Steven Universe all saw major developments in terms of story, many of which ended in explosive season and/or series finales. The Earth has rotated around the sun once more, and a new year brings us new content in the world of Western animation. Here are some of the most anticipated or intriguing movies and shows confirmed or expected to arrive in 2019.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (Feb. 8)
The LEGO Movie, the surprising 2014 hit about the world of building blocks come to life, surprised audiences with an emotional story, likable characters, and a powerful reveal that the world of LEGO people was being controlled by humans. This sequel follows the familiar characters Emmet, Lucy, Batman, and others as they travel to the Systar System after the appearance of a challenging new foe. The first movie was so well received that many believe it was snubbed from the Oscars. This weekend’s box office premiere will determine if the sequel will stand as tall as the hype has set for it or ultimately fall to pieces.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Feb. 22)
The third and final installment to Dreamwork’s successful Dragons franchise follows an adult Hiccup and his best friend Toothless, who discovers a female Light Fury companion for the Night Fury, Toothless. He must also battle a new foe that poses a direct threat to all dragons and the island of Berk itself. This series has had two incredible films and multiple series that follow Hiccup and his friends as they journey through adolescence into young adulthood, and as the trilogy ends, be prepared for a very mature and grown-up ending.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 (June 7)
Image from GeekTyrant
From Illumination Studios, the minds behind The Lorax, Despicable Me, Minions, and The Grinch, this furry sequel to the Toy Story copycat follows more pets in their secret lives. Despite the numerous character trailers that have been released, there is very little to speak of in terms of the story. However, the now controversial Louis C.K. has been kicked off the sequel following his#MeToo scandal, being replaced by Patton Oswalt.
Toy Story 4 (June 21)
Speaking of Toy Story, Pixar is releasing the fourth film in their star franchise this summer. After the emotional conclusion of the toys’ time with Andy in the third film, this sequel follows Woody, Buzz, and the gang as Bonnie’s toys now, while they search for Woody’s long-lost love interest Bo Peep. The film will also likely explore many other aspects of the toy world, such as the creation of impromptu toys like the new character Forky from the teaser trailer. Pixar has had mixed results with many of their sequels, so we’ll have to see if this fourth film goes “to infinity and beyond.”
Spies in Disguise (Sept. 13)
One of the few non-sequel movie concepts making its debut this year, Spies in Disguise stars Will Smith as a super spy-turned-pigeon by a quirky young inventor, voiced by Tom Holland. Produced by Blue Sky Studios, known for fun flicks such as the Ice Age series, Robots, and Epic, this feature film is based off of a 2009 short film by Lucas Martell titled Pigeon: Impossible, but is one of the few animated movies that is not already tied to an existing franchise (not yet, at least).
The Addams Family (Oct. 18)
Image from Super Bro Movies
Based off of the iconic gothic family that went from New Yorker cartoon to TV series to ’90s film series, this CGI reboot follows Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, and the rest of their creepy and kooky family on new dark and grim adventures. This film is produced by Canadian studio Cinesite Animation, which was previously responsible for the insatiable R-rated comedy Sausage Party, but their concept of The Addams Family will likely be a family flick more suitable for a wider audience.
Frozen 2 (Nov. 22)
Image from People
Consider 2019 the year of sequels because a majority of the movies coming out are already part of an existing franchise. Frozen 2, the long-anticipated sequel to Disney’s smash box office hit, is no different. The hype of Frozen’s sequel has not been lost on Disney, who has produced two Frozen short films over the past six years (that is, if you consider the 21-minute featurette Olaf’s Frozen Adventure a “short film”) to sate the hunger of younger fans and keep interest in the characters alive until they could produce a sequel. Few details have been released about the plot of the film, but many fans on social media have been hopeful that a lesbian love interest is in store for Elsa the Ice Queen.
Steven Universe: The Movie (Fall 2019)
Very little is known about the movie based on the hit Cartoon Network TV series, which was announced at SDCC 2018 and given a premiere timeframe after the explosive Season 5 finale. It is unknown how this movie will connect to the main story arc of the series, and many plot points have not been released. However, the teaser trailer shows a spinning heart-shaped gem showing the Crystal Gems and a shadowy red Homeworld gem, likely the main antagonist.
Carmen Sandiego (Netflix, Jan. 18)
Based off the original ’90s phenomenon, Carmen Sandiego stars Gina Rodriquez in the titular role, with Finn Wolfhard joining the secretive caper as her online accomplice. The story will follow Sandiego in her current globe-trotting escapades as well as revealing the mysterious past that led to her criminal activity.
Vikingskool (Disney Channel, late 2019)
This series follows a group of young Vikings attending a training school to become full-fledged warriors. Vikingskool follows Erik, Arnie, and Ilba, three Viking friends who navigate the magical world loosely based on Norse mythology. The show was originally pitched for a more mature audience but has presumably been toned-down for the main demographic of 6-11 year-olds.
ThunderCats Roar (Cartoon Network, TBA)
Following the original premise of the ThunderCats series, ThunderCats Roar follows Lion-O and the rest of the feline warriors with a more cartoonish and whimsical atmosphere. The reboot has been criticized by older fans of the original series for adhering to the so-called lazy “CalArts style” of animation, but seems to be focusing appeal to a younger audience that can be reintroduced to the franchise.
The Owl House (Disney Channel, TBA)
Image from Variety
The Owl House is a fantasy show created by Dana Terrace, who has worked on Gravity Falls and DuckTales as a storyboard artist and a director, respectively. The series follows Luz, a human teenage girl who accidentally finds herself in a demon-inhabited world. Luz befriends King, a tiny warrior, and Eda, a rebellious witch, and decides to pursue her desire to become a witch herself, despite having no magical abilities whatsoever. The Owl House would be the fourth series produced by a woman for Disney Television Animation.
Victor and Valentino (Cartoon Network, TBA)
While the original pilot appeared in 2016, Victor and Valentino was greenlit to premiere in 2019. The story follows the two titular half-brothers, who explore supernatural mysteries and Mexican folklore come to life while visiting their grandmother in the small town of Monte Macabre. Many speculate that the show will premiere in late October just as the pilot originally aired, close to the Day of the Dead holiday celebration.
Amphibia (Disney Channel, TBA)
Created and executive produced by Matt Braly, who originally worked as a director on Gravity Falls, this series follows the adventures of Anne, a 13-year-old girl mysteriously whisked into the magical realm of the titular Amphibia, a marshy landscape inhabited by anthropomorphic frogs. She befriends Sprig and goes on amazing adventures, while trying to figure out how to return home. A sneak preview of the show’s opening theme song was aired at SDCC 2018, but few other details have been announced.
Twelve Forever (Netflix, TBA)
Twelve Forever originally aired a pilot in 2015 for Cartoon Network but has been picked up by Netflix to air later this year. The series follows Reggie, who creates a Neverland-esque fantasy world where nobody ever grows up and imagination runs limitless. Reggie is joined by two other friends to live out their wildest dreams and stave off the impending responsibilities of adulthood.
Glitch Techs (Nickelodeon, TBA)
Glitch Techs focuses on two kids who work to battle and defeat video game monsters who have invaded the real world. One of the first non-Spongebob cartoons to be greenlit on the network in recent years, production was mysteriously halted on the show by Nickelodeon, with many artists working on the show seemingly left out of the loop. Eric Robles, the series’ creator, has gone on the record via Instagram to clarify that the show hasn’t been canceled and will still premiere this year as planned.
Infinity Train (Cartoon Network, TBA)
After the pilot became a viral hit on YouTube in fall of 2016, leading to an online petition that garnered thousands of supporters, Cartoon Network decided to greenlight Infinity Train in spring of 2018 to premiere sometime this year. Many are also speculating a fall release, as the series will take place during the autumn season and the pilot originally released in November. The series stars Tulip, a logical red-haired girl trapped on a mysteriously infinite train with a robotic companion named One-One. Each train car produces a set of challenges or obstacles, ranging from complex puzzles to bizarre worlds, all of which prevent Tulip from making her way back home.
Hazbin Hotel (Web series, TBA)
Hazbin Hotel is a mature comedy-musical following the princess of hell who opens a hotel to redeem and rehabilitate sinners and manage the overpopulation of the Inferno. This series is almost entirely produced independently and funded through Patreon donations, and many sneak-peeks of the show can be found on YouTube.
Harley Quinn (Web series, October 2019)
The popular clown killer will get her own series on DC Universe, the DC on-demand streaming service. This series follows the titular character, voiced by Kaley Cuoco, after she breaks up with the Joker and kindles a friendship with Poison Ivy to join the Legion of Doom.
2019 will certainly be a big year for the world of animation, from the silver screen to the TV screen to your phone screen. Some of the premieres will likely be a big hit, while others may fall short of their hype. Still others, including ones I did not mention here, may become bigger breakout hits than was originally expected. And that’s not to mention many existing series that will likely make even bigger waves in their continuity, such as Steven Universe, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, andDucktales. The real big question will be which productions will draw in big audiences and which ones will erase their chances of success.
Featured Image: Tyler Westman
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