This Week in Animation News: New Clips from ‘Star Wars Rebels’, ‘Justice League Dark’

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, Sony Pictures Animation hosted a presentation for their upcoming film slate which includes the untitled animated Spider-Man movie that will center on Miles Morales, the announcement of casting for both The Emoji Movie and the Christmas movie The Star, as well as updates on both Smurfs: The Lost Village and Hotel Transylvania 3. If you wanted a better look at Justice League Dark, you’re in luck because we have three new clips from around the web that show off the latest DC Universe Animated Original Movie!

Image via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Elsewhere, there’s a new official trailer for The Nut Job 2Mark Hamill‘s latest voice acting role, a casting announcement for Aardman Animations’ Early Man, the announcement of the English-language cast of Guardian Brothers, a North American release date for the Annie Awards-nominated Japanese film Your Name, and even news of a live-action/animation hybrid film centering on the pop culture phenomenon that is Lisa Frank. It’s been a busy week, so let’s get to it!

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!

'Star Wars Rebels' Clips

And for a bonus clip, here’s another video featuring Zeb squaring off against an imperial infiltrator:

'Smurfs: The Lost Village' Cast Revealed

Newly announced voice cast includes:  Michelle Rodriguez (SmurfStorm), Ellie Kemper (SmurfBlossom), Ariel Winter (SmurfLily) and Julia Roberts (SmurfWillow), all residents of the title’s Lost Village.  Special voice cameos to include:  Gordon Ramsay (Baker), Gabriel Iglesias (Jokey), Tituss Burgess (Vanity), Jeff Dunham (Farmer), Jake Johnson (Grouchy), and director Kelly Asbury (Nosey).

Previously announced voice cast includes Demi Lovato (Smurfette), Rainn Wilson (Gargamel), Joe Manganiello (Hefty), Jack McBrayer (Clumsy), Danny Pudi (Brainy), and Mandy Patinkin (Papa).

The feature is directed by Kelly Asbury, produced by Jordan Kerner and Mary Ellen Bauder Andrews, and written by Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon, based on the characters and works of Peyo. Digital animation by Sony Pictures Imageworks.

In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does.  Embarking on a rollercoaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history!

'Hotel Transylvania 3' Plot Details Emerge

Mavis surprises Dracula with a family voyage on a luxury Monster Cruise Ship so he can take a vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel. The rest of Drac’s Pack cannot resist going along and once they leave port, romance zings Drac when he meets the mysterious ship captain Ericka.  Now it’s Mavis’ turn to play the overprotective parent, keeping her dad and Ericka apart. Little do they know that his “too good to be true” love interest is actually a descendent of Van Helsing, arch nemesis to Dracula and all monsters!

The voice ensemble of favorites returns, including Adam Sandler (Dracula), Selena Gomez (Mavis) and Andy Samberg (Johnny).

Director Genndy Tartakovsky is back in the director’s chair, along with Michelle Murdocca back producing and Adam Sandler executive-producing, with a screenplay by Genndy Tartakovsky and Michael McCullers.

In addition to this feature film, a new animated short, PUPPY, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, will be debuting in theaters attached to The Emoji Movie in August 2017.  In the short, the residents of Hotel Transylvania find their world turned upside-down when youngster Dennis gets a surprise monster-sized pet!

Christmas Movie 'The Star' Announced

The voice cast will be led by Steven Yeun (Bo the donkey), Kelly Clarkson (Leah the horse), Aidy Bryant (Ruth the sheep), Keegan-Michael Key (Dave the dove), Kristin Chenoweth (Mouse), Anthony Anderson (Zach the goat), Gabriel Iglesias (Rufus the dog), Ving Rhames (Thaddeus the dog), Delilah Rene (Elizabeth), Kris Kristofferson (Old Donkey), Gina Rodriguez (Mary), Zachary Levi (Joseph), withOprah Winfrey (Deborah), Tyler Perry (Cyrus) and Tracy Morgan (Felix) as the three camels, and Christopher Plummer (King Herod).

The Star is directed by Academy Award-nominated writer/director Timothy Reckart; executive-produced by DeVon Franklin, Lisa Henson and Brian Henson (The Jim Henson Company); produced by Jenni Magee Cook; with a story by Carlos Kotkin and Simon Moore; and screenplay by Carlos Kotkin.  Digital animation by Cinesite Studios.

A small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill.  One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams.  On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a lovable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations.  Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.

'Justice League Dark' Takes Action in New Clips

First Trailer for 'The Nut Job 2'

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature stars Will ArnettKatherine HeiglMaya RudolphBobby MoynihanGabriel IglesiasJeff DunhamBobby CannavaleIsabela MonerSebastian ManiscaloPeter Stormare and Jackie Chan, and opens August 18th. Check out the official synopsis and poster below:

Surly Squirrel (Will Arnett) and the gang are back. We are once again in Oakton where the evil mayor has decided to bulldoze Liberty Park and build a dangerous amusement park in its place. Surly and his ragtag group of animal friends band together to save their home, defeat the mayor, and take back the park.

Mark Hamill and More Join 'Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom'

Arcana Studios and Shout! Factory, a multi-platform media company, today announced the casting of Mark HamillJeffrey Combs, Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer (Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom) and Doug Bradley in the upcoming animated feature Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom. Mark Hamill is set to voice the role of Dr. Henry Armitage, and Jeffrey Combs has been cast in the role of King Abdul. Christopher Plummer and Doug Bradley will be reprising their roles as Dr. Herbert West and Nyarlathotep.

Image via Arcana Studios

Written, directed and produced by Sean Patrick O’ReillyHoward Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom is the highly-anticipated movie adaption of Arcana’s popular graphic novel of the same name, and the second installment of Howard Lovecraft animated film series.  A veritable love letter to Lovecraft himself, Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom is a fantastical animated feature that follows a young Howard and his friend ‘Spot’ on an awe-inspiring adventure from the frozen wasteland to the depths of a mysterious ocean. The movie entwines new storytelling, actual events of H.P. Lovecraft’s life, iconic elements of his writings and literary characters Cthulhu, Shoggoth and more.

A thrilling animated feature for any Lovecraft fan, Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom is slated for a late 2017 release across major entertainment distribution platforms and in packaged media from Shout! Factory.

ARCANA STUDIOS presents a film by Sean Patrick O’Reilly. Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom, based on the bestselling graphic novel series created by Bruce Brown and Dwight L. MacPherson, is written, directed and produced by Sean Patrick O’Reilly; producer, Michelle O’Reilly; art director & senior modeler, Gary Yuen; senior editor, Chris Trinh; CG supervisor, Martin Bastian.

Aardman Animations' 'Early Man' Adds Maisie Williams

Thanks to announcements from Maisie Williams and Empire, we now have a pretty solid idea of what the cast of Early Man, the latest film from Aardman Animations, is going to look like. Eddie Redmayne was previously reported as voicing the title role and now it seems that Williams will be playing the female lead opposite him as Goona, a “gallant and indomitable rebel who befriends the film’s hero Dug (Redmayne), and helps steer him through the clash of the Stone Age and Bronze Age civilizations.” Tom Hiddleston is also set to star in the Nick Park-directed film as Lord Nooth.

Early Man is “set at the dawn of time, pitching hairy cavemen against wooly mammoths and dinosaurs”, and arrives in cinemas on January 26, 2018; no U.S. release date has been announced just yet.

Image via Aardman Animations

'Guardian Brothers' English Cast Revealed

Image via Light Chaser Animation Studios

THR reports that the animated Chinese film The Little Door Gods is getting an English dub and re-release as The Guardian Brothers, courtesy of The Weinstein Company. Edward Norton, Bella Thorne, Jim GaffiganMike Birbiglia and Randall Park join the previously announced cast of Meryl StreepMel Brooks, and Nicole Kidman.

Writer-director Gary Wang‘s The Little Door Gods told the story of “the comedic adventures of two “door guardians” — figures from Chinese folklore who protect the entranceway of one’s home — who are out of work because contemporary Chinese people are so busy with modern consumer life that they have forgotten about the spirit world.” It grossed $12 million during its release in China last January. No U.S. release date is set just yet.

Image via Light Chaser Animation Studios

'Your Name' Lands a North American Release Date

From director Makoto Shinkai, the innovative mind behind Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second, comes a beautiful masterpiece about time, the thread of fate, and the hearts of two young souls.


The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places.

Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint.


When a dazzling comet lights up the night’s sky, something shifts, and they seek each other out wanting something more—a chance to finally meet. But try as they might, something more daunting than distance prevents them. Is the string of fate between Mitsuha and Taki strong enough to bring them together, or will forces outside their control leave them forever separated?

Look for Your Name in both English dub and subtitled versions on April 7th!

'Lisa Frank' Movie in the Works as Animation/Live-Action Hybrid

If you love unicorns, rainbows, and dolphins, then boy is this news for you! Variety reports that a feature-length adaptation of the colorful, psychedelic world of Lisa Frank. Along with producer Jon Shestack, Frank is developing a film with an eye toward a hybrid of live-action and animation in order to bring her magical world to life. The project is currently untitled, but Shestack seems bullish on its chances:

“Lisa Frank’s world is cheerful, it’s optimistic, it’s hip, but it is without snark. It’s just sort of impossible to scowl when you’re smiling, and why would you want to? I’m so stoked to be part of this.”

The Lisa Frank brand launched in 1979 with its “Fantastic World” of magical creatures and rainbow-colored landscapes, eventually making its way across a broad selection of categories including apparel, accessories, footwear and adult-coloring books, and of course, the Trapper Keeper (ask your parents).

“I have always wanted to do a feature film that brings the world of Lisa Frank to life,” Frank said. “We have so much backstory on our characters and they have been alive in my imagination since the beginning.”

Are you excited for a potential Lisa Frank movie? Are you enthusiastic about any of the other news in this list? Let us know in the comments!

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