This Week in Animation: ‘The Belko Experiment’ LEGO, Claymation Trailers Bring the Violence

In This Week in Animation News I’ll take a look at the previous week in the world of animation in order to get you caught up on everything you might have missed. It’s your one-stop shop for news regarding cartoons, anime, and animated web series. We’re talking movies, TV shows, digital shorts, and everything in between!

This week saw some very violent animated treatments for the new, R-rated release The Belko Experiment, teased by a new LEGO trailer and claymation shorts. In more traditional family-friendly fare, some character details emerged for the highly anticipated new anime series Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, specifically concerning Naruto and Sasuke. In renewal news, Disney XD has ordered up a second season of Big Hero 6: The Series before it even airs, while also launching Rocket & Groot, a series of animated shorts based on the Guardians of the Galaxy characters. Disney Junior also renewed its hit series Mickey and the Roadster Racers and The Lion Guard

Image via Marvel, Disney XD

On the film front, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced the exclusive world premiere of Teen Titans: The Judas Contract at WonderCon 2017. There are also new trailers for Alpha and Omega: Journey to Bear Kingdom–the eighth film in the family-friendly franchise–and the English-language Canadian-French 3D computer-animated musical/adventure/comedy film Ballerina (now known as Leap!); that latter film also adds Kate McKinnon to the voice cast.

For the latest animation stories we’ve already covered on the site this week, take a look at the following links. Then, check out a selection of new stories below. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!

'The Belko Experiment' Goes LEGO, Claymation, and Very NSFW

Huxley Berg Studios gave The Belko Experiment the LEGO treatment in this animated trailer for Greg McLean‘s violent, R-rated thriller scripted by James Gunn and playing in theaters now. Not to be outdone, veteran claymation animator Lee Hardcastle got in on the fun by creating a few signature shorts based on the film.

Here’s the official synopsis of The Belko Experiment, followed by Hardcastle’s series of claymation shorts:

Written by the acclaimed writer/director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither) and directed by Greg McLean (creator of the Wolf Creek franchise), THE BELKO EXPERIMENT is a terrifying, provocative and at times hilarious thrill-ride that literally provokes the question; what does it take to survive at work?


From Orion Pictures, THE BELKO EXPERIMENT stars John Gallagher Jr. (“The Newsroom”, 10 Cloverfield Lane), Tony Goldwyn (“Scandal”), John C. McGinley (“Stan Against Evil,” “Scrubs”), Adria Arjona (“True Detective”), Josh Brener (“Silicon Valley”) and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy). The film was directed by Greg McLean and executive produced by James Gunn and Peter Safran (The Conjuring 1&2Annabelle).

'Boruto' Anime Director Reveals Naruto and Sasuke's Roles

As Naruto: Shippuden prepares to draw to a close after 500 episodes and nearly 10 years on the air, a new generation prepares to step forward. The anime adaptation of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is due to hit TV Tokyo on April 5th, but fans of the long-running precursor are curious to know how their favorite characters–Naruto and Sasuke–will factor in. Luckily, the series co-director Noriyuki Abe cleared things up on that account.

Image via Pierrot

Spiralling Sphere (via Comicbook) has the translation of the interview with Abe from the April issue of Gakken Publishing’s Monthly Animedia magazine. Here’s the part Naruto and Sasuke will play in the new series:

[W]e don’t want it to become “Naruto 2.0”. We want to create a new work that our fans, who have followed us these 15 years, and now grown into adults and their children can enjoy. Of course, this is on top of also including the characters that are already a part of the series. We as the staff of “Naruto” refer to Naruto and Sasuke as “legendary characters”, and it’s awesome when they appear in the story, but we are careful to portray Boruto and the next generation as the main characters as we are creating the series.

Basically it sounds like Naruto and Sasuke will be featured about as often as the previous Hokage and legendary Sannin were in the previous series. As long as the adventures continue, I’m on board!

Disney XD Renews 'Big Hero 6' Ahead of Its Premiere

SAN FRANSOKYO – Disney XD has ordered an early second season of the highly anticipated Big Hero 6 The Series before the first season premieres this fall, with Emmy Award-winners Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley and Nick Filippi (the team behind the global hit Disney Channel series Kim Possible) as executive producers. Based on Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Academy Award-winning feature film inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name, the series stars Maya Rudolph as Aunt Cass, Jamie Chung as Go Go, Scott Adsit as Baymax, Ryan Potter as Hiro, Genesis Rodriguez as Honey Lemon, Khary Payton as Wasabi, Brooks Wheelan as Fred, Alan Tudyk as Alistair Krei, David Shaughnessy as Heathcliff and Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee as Fred’s dad.

The Disney Television Animation-produced series picks up immediately following the events of the feature film and continues the adventures and friendship of 14-year-old tech genius Hiro and his compassionate, cutting-edge robot Baymax. Along with their friends Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go and Fred, they form the legendary superhero team Big Hero 6 and embark on high-tech adventures as they protect their city from an array of scientifically enhanced villains and seek to solve a mystery that threatens the city of San Fransokyo. In his normal day-to-day life, Hiro faces daunting academic challenges and social trials as the new prodigy at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.

Image via Disney XD

Disney Junior Orders More 'Mickey and the Roadster Racers' and 'The Lion Guard'

Disney Junior has ordered a second season of 2017’s #1 series among preschooler-targeted networks, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, which since its January premiere, has reached over 41 million viewers nationwide. Disney Junior, geared towards kids age 2-7 and the #1 preschooler-dedicated network for the past five years, has also ordered a third season of its popular animated series The Lion Guard.

Mickey and the Roadster Racers is a madcap car-racing adventure series for preschoolers that takes Disney’s #1 star, Mickey Mouse, and his pals Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Daisy and Donald, along with their unique transforming vehicles, on humorous high-spirited races around the globe, as well as hometown capers in Hot Dog Hills. Off the racetrack, Minnie and Daisy also run their own successful business as Happy Helpers, solving problems for anyone in need of a helping hand. The stories are designed to impart social and emotional lessons about friendship, teamwork, optimism and good sportsmanship. The Emmy-nominated creative talent behind Disney Junior’s hit series, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Never Land Pirates, comprise the production team: Rob LaDuca is executive producer and Mark Seidenberg is co-executive producer and supervising story editor. Mickey and the Roadster Racers is a production of Disney Television Animation.

The Lion Guard continues the epic storytelling of The Lion King and follows the adventures of Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala, and his diverse group of friends as they unite to protect the Pride Lands. Ranked as 2016’s #1 series across preschooler networks in Total Viewers and Kids 2-5, season two of the series will debut this summer and feature new guest star voices including Renée Elise Goldsberry (“Hamilton”) and Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones). The Lion Guard voice cast includes: Rob Lowe as Simba; Gabrielle Union as Nala; Max Charles as Kion; Joshua Rush as Bunga; Atticus Shaffer as Ono; Diamond White as Fuli and Dusan Brown as Beshte. Ford Riley (Special Agent Oso) is executive producer and Howy Parkins (Jake and the Never Land Pirates) is co-executive producer and supervising director. The Education and Science experts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park serve as consultants and author and Swahili expert Sarah Mirza is the language and cultural advisor. The Lion Guard is a production of Disney Television Animation.

'Teen Titans: The Judas Contract' Makes Its World Premiere at WonderCon 2017

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment continues its annual WonderCon tradition with the exclusive World Premiere of Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, the next DC Universe Original Movie, on the evening of Friday, March 31, 2017 at WonderCon Anaheim in the Arena of the Anaheim Convention Center.

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract will screen at 6:00pm in the 4,000-seat Arena, followed by a panel discussion amongst the film’s acting stars and filmmakers.

The entertaining post-screening panel will feature Sean Maher (Firefly/Serenity, Batman: Bad Blood), the voice of Nightwing; Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story) as Raven; Jake T. Austin (Wizards of Waverly Place, The Fosters) as Blue Beetle; Brandon Soo Hoo (Tropic Thunder, From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series) as Beast Boy; Kari Wahlgren (Phineas and Ferb, Legion of Superheroes) as Starfire; and Stuart Allan (Batman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood) as Robin/Damian; plus director Sam Liu (Batman: The Killing Joke), supervising producer James Tucker (Batman Bad Blood, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders) and character designer Phil Bourassa (Justice League Dark, Young Justice). Additional panelists will be announced as confirmed.

Image via DC Entertainment

Inspired by the 1984 DC story arc from Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract finds the Teen Titans – Starfire, Beast Boy, Raven, Blue Beetle, Robin and the just-returned Nightwing – working as a cohesive team in their never-ending battle against evil. But their newest teammate, the mysterious and powerful Terra (voiced by Christina Ricci), may be altering that dynamic. Meanwhile, an ancient evil, Brother Blood (Gregg Henry), has awakened, and familiar foe Deathstroke (the late Miguel Ferrer) is lurking in the shadows – both waiting to pounce. Ultimately, the Teen Titans will need to battle their enemies and their own doubts to unite and overcome the malicious forces around them in this twisting tale of intrigue, adventure and deception.

Fans will have the opportunity to meet the cast on Friday, March 31 when all of the Teen Titans: The Judas Contract panelists will sign limited edition, WonderCon Anaheim exclusive mini-posters at the DC Entertainment booth. For information on the cast’s Autograph Signing, please visit Hall D on Friday morning.

An encore presentation of Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (without an accompanying panel) is slated for Sunday, April 2 at 3:15pm in the Arena.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract will be distributed on Digital HD starting April 4, 2017, and on Blu-ray Deluxe Edition, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD beginning April 18, 2017.

Marvel and Disney Launch 'Rocket & Groot' Animated Shorts

Marvel and Disney XD announced a 12-episode series of Rocket & Groot animated shorts. The shorts follow Rocket and Groot as they try to figure out how to get enough credits to buy a new ship after their old one breaks down. A compilation of all the shorts will premiere on Disney XD at 7:00am ET/PT on April 10th.

Rocket is voiced by Trevor Devall (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Johnny Test) and Groot is voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, The Cleveland Show).

Featuring animation by Oscar-nominated Passion Pictures, the shorts are directed by Arnaud Delord, written by Chris “Doc” Wyatt and Kevin Burke, executive produced by Cara Speller, Alan Fine, Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada, Cort Lane, and co-executive produced by Stephen Wacker and Stan Lee.

Image via Marvel, Disney XD

Image via Marvel, Disney XD

'Alpha and Omega: Journey to Bear Kingdom' Trailer Reveals Lionsgate's Latest Animated Animal Adventure

Get ready for an all-new animated adventure when the family film Alpha and Omega: Journey to Bear Kingdom arrives on DVD, Digital HD and On Demand May 9th from Lionsgate. The wolf pups Stinky, Claudette, and Runt must defend Bear Kingdom’s royalty and their forest home from the evil Rogue Wolves. With over three million DVDs of the animated series sold worldwide, the Alpha and Omega: Journey to Bear Kingdom DVD will be available May 9th!

Here’s the official synopsis:

The pack is back in a pawsitively thrilling adventure the whole family will love! All the animals in the Eastern Forest are excited because Queen Bear and Princess Canue are coming to visit. But when evil Rogue Wolves threaten the royal bears, wolf pups Stinky, Runt, and Claudette leap into action. With courage, wits, and plenty of help from their wild and wonderful friends, the alpha and omega wolves rise to protect the queen and princess and save their forest home.

Kate McKinnon Joins the Cast of 'Leap!'

The Weinstein Company announced that Kate McKinnon has joined the cast for the new animated film Leap! She will provide the voice for three different characters: Régine Le Haut, Mother Superior & Félicie’s Mother. The film also stars Elle Fanning, Nat Wolff, Maddie Ziegler, with Mel Brooks and Carly Rae Jepsen.

Leap! features Original Music by Sia, Demi Lovato, and Carly Rae Jepsen and opens in theaters nationwide April 21.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Paris, 1884. A orphaned girl arrives in Paris from Brittany. Félicie Milliner is 11 and has no money but one big, passionate dream: to become a dancer. With nothing left to lose, Félicie takes a big risk: she ‘borrows’ a spoiled brats identity and enters the Opera Ballet School. But how long can she be someone else? Mentored by the tough and mysterious cleaner, Odette , Félicie learns that talent is not enough – it takes hard work to be better than her ruthless, conniving fellow students. That and friendship. Felicie’s inventive, exhausting and charismatic best friend Victor also has a dream: becoming a famous inventor. Together, they both encourage each other to reach for the stars.

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