The five highest-grossing animated films of all time are from this decade – 2013’s Frozen, 2015’s Minions, 2010’s Toy Story 3, 2017’s Despicable Me 3, and 2016’s Finding Dory – which means that Hollywood is not slowing down on its production of movies in this genre. On the contrary, it is only inscreasing.
With that said, 2019 and beyond is shaping up to become one of the busiest periods in the history of animated movies. There are dozens of animated films currently in development, including projects from Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, and other studios. Despite the various sequels, reboots, and spin-offs to already established franchises, there is also a fair share of original stories coming soon to theaters.
Fans of the genre are in for quite a ride, as the current lineup of animated projects in development are going to revisit old and beloved characters as well as introduce brand-new ones. With all the hard work that is involved in the production of any animated feature, it's a safe bet that these films are being made with the intent of being highly successful, surpassing all expectations set forth by previous installments.
20 Animated Movies Currently In Development.
20 TOY STORY 4
Since 1995’s Toy Story, Pixar has solidified itself as one of Hollywood’s most prominent animation studios, constantly surpassing even the Walt Disney Animation Studios in terms of quality, cultural relevance, and box office numbers. After two highly successful sequels, it certainly seemed like the franchise was going to end as a trilogy. However, in 2014, Disney announced that Toy Story 4 was going to be produced, giving it a tentative release date for 2017.
Despite being late, Toy Story 4 is certainly in development and will be released in 2019.
The film was initially going to be penned by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, who later withdrew from the project and made way for a new writer, Stephany Folsom. Josh Cooley, who has worked in several other Pixar movies in the art department, was selected to direct this fourth installment, making it the first Toy Story movie to not be directed by either John Lasseter or Lee Unkrich, both of whom are veteran directors at Pixar.
The most updated premise of Toy Story 4 teased a movie involving the romantic relationship between Woody and Bo Peep, as well as a rescue mission that involved Buzz Lightyear. However, ever since the switch in the film’s writing team, Pixar has kept details of the project closer to its chest.
19 FROZEN 2
Co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and co-lyricists Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are all coming back for Frozen 2, a sequel to the highly successful 2013 animated blockbuster Frozen.
Despite experiencing some level of success with Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, it was only with Frozen that Walt Disney Animation Studios finally found its footing after more than a decade of releasing movies with lukewarm reception and low box office numbers. Frozen made a billion dollars worldwide and launched a franchise that has already spun several theme park attractions, merchandise, video games, and even two short films – 2015’s Frozen Fever and 2017’s Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. With the 2019 release date for Frozen 2, this is poised to become an even bigger property for Disney as a whole.
Starting with 2018’s Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, Walt Disney Animation Studios is going to release one animated movie per year during every month of November. Frozen 2 is the studio’s 2019 release, but other films have already been slated for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 release dates, such as a Big Hero 6 sequel that is still in the early development stage.
If the second Frozen installment proves to be successful, perhaps this can become a trilogy that matches the numbers Disney has achieved with its Marvel and Star Wars projects.
18 THE LEGO MOVIE SEQUEL
2014’s The Lego Movie single-handedly rebooted the Warner Bros. Animation studio, solidifying the careers of the directing duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller – also known for 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – and proving that the Lego company could find an appeal on the big screen.
Since then, the franchise has spun two other films, both of which premiered in 2017: The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie. However, both of them failed to perform at the critical and commercial level that The Lego Movie did in 2014.
To the surprise of no one, The Lego Movie Sequel was announced for a 2017 release date. However, the project got pushed back, eventually landing on a 2019 release. Part of the pushback had to do with the several changes in the writing and directing teams that took place throughout the years.
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller – the writers and directors of The Lego Movie – originally signed on to write the sequel’s script, then got replaced by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, who then left and made way for Lord and Miller to return. Chris McKay was originally picked to direct the film, then was replaced by Rob Schrab, who was then replaced by Mike Mitchell.
17 THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2
Famous for the Despicable Me franchise and the Minions spinoff, Illumination Entertainment likely did not anticipate that it would have another major property on its hands with the release of 2016’s The Secret Life of Pets.
Budgeted at $75 million, the movie went on to gross more than $800 million at the box office and became the sixth highest grossing movie of 2016. It even managed to surpass the gross earned by the first Despicable Me installment, which at the time was considered a major hit for the studio.
Only a month after its release, a sequel had already been announced by Illumination Entertainment.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 is poised to be released in 2019.
After allegations of misconduct surfaced against Louis C.K., who voiced the main character in the franchise, Illumination Entertainment announced that the actor would be replaced by Patton Oswalt. The rest of the original cast, as well as director Chris Renaud and writer Brian Lynch, are set to return for the sequel, which is still in development at the studio. Additionally, The Secret Life of Pets 2 has added legendary actor Harrison Ford, who will lend his voice to an animated character for the first time.
16 MINIONS 2
Truth be told, a lot of the success behind the Despicable Me franchise had to do with the popular appeal of Gru’s minions, who instantly became pop culture references and made children and adults around the world laugh. It was only fitting for Illumination Entertainment to announced that they would get their own film, Minions, in 2015. Thus, it was not very surprising when the movie crossed the billion-dollar mark and became one of the highest grossing animated movies of all time - earning more than any of the Despicable Me installments.
As if the franchise could not get any bigger, 2017’s Despicable Me 3 also crossed the billion-dollar mark at the box office and, despite failing to gross more than Minions, went on to become the most successful installment of the Despicable trilogy. With all of that success, it was also only fitting that Minions 2 would eventually be announced, with writer Brian Lynch and director Kyle Balda signed on to return for the sequel.
The Despicable Me property is now the highest-grossing animated franchise of all time, as well as the first and only animated franchise to have had two movies crossing the billion-dollar mark at the box office.
15 THE ADDAMS FAMILY
MGM is currently producing an animated The Addams Family movie based on the characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938. The Addams franchise saw some success on the big screen in the 1990s, as the live-action movies The Addams Family (1991), Addams Family Values (1993), and Addams Family Reunion (1998) yielded a somewhat positive critical and commercial reception. However, the family has not been back to theaters since 1998, and talks of a stop-motion reboot involving Tim Burton did not go anywhere.
Pamela Pettler, known for her work in Monster House, Corpse Bride, 9, and 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was picked to write the MGM animated reboot of The Addams Family, which is set to be released in 2019. Additionally, Sausage Party director Conrad Vernon is set to direct the movie.
Oscar Isaac, who has long been championed by fans of the property to play Gomez Addams, is in talks with the studio to voice the character.
However, besides the release date and some information about the team behind the project, not much else is known about the upcoming The Addams Family, such as the premise of the film or who will actually voice Morticia, Pugsley, Wednesday, and Fester.
14 HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
The third How to Train Your Dragon installment, titled The Hidden World, is all set for a 2019 release. A franchise produced by DreamWorks Animation, which is a studio also known for Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and Trolls, How to Train Your Dragon has been a consistently lucrative property that managed to also reach a level of critical appeal during its second installment.
Dean DeBlois, who wrote and directed the How to Train Your Dragon sequel, is set to return as the writer and director of The Hidden World. Additionally, Cate Blanchett is set to reprise her role as Valka, Hiccup’s mother, in the third installment.
In two movies, the franchise has grossed nearly half a billion dollars at the box office, which makes it one of the most lucrative properties in the current roster of DreamWorks Animation.
Universal Pictures, which owns both DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment, has two highly anticipated animated movies to be released in 2019, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and The Secret Life of Pets 2. Universal will face off with Disney’s own big animated properties lined up for that year: Frozen 2 and Toy Story 4.
Fans of the genre can already anticipate how tough the battle for that year’s Best Animated Feature category will be at the Oscars.
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13 THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2
A partnership between Sony Pictures and Rovio Animation, The Angry Birds Movie brought to life a series of characters that many casual mobile gamers were already familiar with due to the popular game franchise called Angry Birds, which was created by Rovio Entertainment. After grossing over $300 million at the box office in 2016 with the first film, the studio immediately began to work on a sequel.
The Angry Birds Movie 2 is slated for a 2019 release and set to bring back all of the actors that voiced characters in the previous installment, such as Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, and Peter Dinklage. However, on the production side, Sony and Rovio made substantial changes. For the sequel, co-directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly have been replaced by Thurop Van Orman and John Rice. Jon Vitti, who wrote the screenplay for the first movie, is not returning to pen the sequel, which is instead being written by Peter Ackerman.
On the TV side, the Angry Birds franchise has already spun several shows, such as Angry Birds Toons, Piggy Tales, Angry Birds Stella, and Angry Birds Blues. On the big screen, Rovio and Sony are certainly looking forward to making an even bigger splash with The Angry Birds Movie 2, and exploring the possibility of a third installment.
If The Lego Movie brought the Lego toys to life, why can’t an animated movie do the same for Playmobil, Lego’s longtime competitor?
French studio ON Entertainment, most notable for 2015’s The Little Prince adaptation, has secured the rights to produce a Playmobil animated feature to be released in 2019. Lino DiSalvo, who was a key figure in the production team behind the making of Frozen and Tangled, is set to direct the film, with Greg Erb, Blaise Hemingway, and Jason Oremland penning a script. However, as of yet, only Wendi McLendon-Covey and Jodi Larratt have been mentioned as part of the cast.
Founded in 1974 in Germany, the Playmobil plastic toys have long competed with Denmark’s Lego in the free-form play and customization market around the world.
In 2019, Playmobil will not only compete with The Lego Movie Sequel, but also with a wide range of other highly anticipated animated films.
The company previously attempted to create a TV show, called Super 4, which aired on Netflix in the United States and was canceled after two seasons. However, the jury is still out regarding whether Playmobil will earn its rightful place on the big screen, just as The Lego Movie did.
11 SPIES IN DISGUISE
From Blue Sky Studios, the creators of the Ice Age franchise, Robots, Rio, and Ferdinand, comes a new animated property that follows the world’s greatest spy and a gadget inventor.
The spy, Lance Sterling, will be voiced by Will Smith. The inventor, Walter, will be voiced by Tom Holland.
Despite having changed its release date twice, Spies in Disguise is all set for an April of 2019 release, currently in development at Blue Sky Studios. The studio, which is mostly known for its five Ice Age movies, has been trying to venture out to different properties through the years, with mild success. The latest Ice Age installment, Collision Course, is the lowest grossing sequel of the entire franchise, which has forced the studio to look for new stories to tell and characters to explore.
With Spies in Disguise, Blue Sky is finally focusing on humans and pivoting from its main specialty: animated movies featuring talking animals or creatures.
However, 2019 is shaping up to become an incredibly crowded year for the genre of animation, and Spies in Disguise will have to compete with the likes of Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, The Secret Life of Pets 2, and The Lego Movie Sequel.
Created in 1969, Scooby-Doo and his gang of friends have been a staple in popular culture for various decades. In 2002, a live-action Scooby-Doo movie was released, written by a then mostly unknown James Gunn, who would later bring Guardians of the Galaxy to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, was released in 2004, but the franchise failed to reach the financial and critical incentive to keep bringing those characters to the big screen.
That was until Warner Bros. announced its plans in 2016 to launch a Hanna-Barbera animated cinematic universe that would start with a tentatively titled Scooby movie. Hanna-Barbera, the studio also responsible for The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Johnny Quest, Wacky Races, and Yogi Bear, certainly has a significant amount of intellectual property to populate a massive cinematic universe, but since 2016, little has been known about Scooby or the plans for this overall franchise.
As of now, Scooby is in development and aiming for a 2020 release. Tony Cervone, Dax Shepard, and Simon J. Smith are all names that have floated around in regards to directing duties, and Dax Shepard and Matt Lieberman were picked to write the screenplay. However, no actors have been officially attached to the project.
The fantasy/sci-fi comic book Nimona was initially published on Tumblr by creator Noelle Stevenson and went on to become one of the most prominent webcomics of this decade. So it's only natural that Fox acquired the rights to turn the property into a movie in 2015.
Slated for a 2020 release, the Nimona animated feature will be directed by Patrick Osborne (known for his work on Disney’s short film Feast) and written by Marc Haimes (who co-wrote Kubo and the Two Strings).
Nimona’s protagonist is the title character. She is a shapeshifter and a sidekick to the villainous Lord Ballister Blackheart. Together, they clash in opinions but fight for a good cause against Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin.
The webcomic has since been published in print as a graphic novel and became a worldwide phenomenon despite the creator having no such intentions. Stevenson has gone on to write for Marvel, on Runaways and Thor, and to win an Eisner for both Nimona and her other comic, Lumberjanes.
Under Fox and its Blue Sky Studios, Nimona may also find a place on the big screen, extending the reach of this property even further. No actors to voice Nimona, Blackheart, and other characters have been attached to the project as of yet, but the film is well on its way for an expected 2020 release.
Lin-Manuel Miranda became a household name after the breakout hit Broadway musical Hamilton, but truth be told, Miranda had already been hard at work for years, having earned a Tony Award for his 2009 musical In The Heights and landed a deal with DreamWorks Animation to produce an animated feature, Vivo. However, it wasn’t until Hamilton that Hollywood became truly invested in other stories that Lin-Manuel Miranda had to tell.
With so much momentum behind Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sony Pictures Animation decided to pick up Vivo from DreamWorks and gave the film a 2020 release.
While working on Vivo, his very own animated feature, Lin-Manuel Miranda has had plenty of opportunities to practice his transition to the big screen. He has written songs for Disney’s Moana, is starring in the Mary Poppins Returns sequel, and is involved with the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid alongside the legendary lyricist Alan Menken. On top of it all, a cinematic adaptation of the In The Heights musical is also in the works.
Vivo is the story of a capuchin monkey who is passionate about music and travels from Havana to Miami. With the success of Pixar’s Coco, it seems like Hollywood is finally ready to embrace more Latin-centered stories in the animation genre.
7 THE BILLION BRICK RACE
The Lego Movie Sequel is not the only Lego animated film currently in development at Warner Bros. Animation. There is also The Billion Brick Race - a Lego Movie spin-off that focuses on cars and racing, and a project that has been facing several obstacles during its production.
When it was announced in 2015, The Billion Brick Race was going to be co-written and co-directed by Jason Segel and Drew Pearce. Then, in 2017, the directing duties were suddenly given to Jorge R. Gutierrez, who was better known as the director of The Book of Life. However, in 2018, Gutierrez announced that he would be stepping down as the movie’s director, and no further update has been provided in regards to the movie.
While it is somewhat safe to assume that The Billion Brick Race is still in development and still happening at some point in the near future, Warner Bros. Animation has yet to come out with news of a new director being attached to the project.
Despite having been planned for a 2019 release, that date now seems unlikely, as production was certainly halted after Jorge R. Gutierrez stepped down as a director and no one has replaced him yet.
The Uglydoll brand of plush toys was first introduced to the market in 2001 and has since become a quite successful merchandising property. In 2011, Illumination Entertainment acquired the rights to turn the toy brand into an animated feature, but eventually gave up on moving forward with the project. Then, in 2017, the project gained new life as director Robert Rodriguez (known for Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sin City, and Machete) signed on to direct and produce the movie under his company, Troublemaker Studios. Reel FX Creative Studios, which has released Free Birds and The Book of Life was contracted to animate the Uglydolls feature, and Pitbull was brought in to voice a character and create an original song for the soundtrack.
From the involvement of Robert Rodriguez and Pitbull, one can assume that Uglydolls will focus on a Latin-centered story, despite no premise or synopsis having been released from the production team. The movie has a tentative release date of 2019, but from the lack of updates regarding the project, it would not be surprising if it was pushed back for another year or two.
With 2019 already being such a crowded year for animated movies, it might actually be a good idea for Uglydolls to wait for 2020.
5 TROLLS 2
2016’s Trolls proved to be a success story for DreamWorks Animation, a studio that had been struggling to launch new franchises in recent years. The Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake-starring animated movie spun an animated TV series on Netflix called Trolls: The Beat Goes On! and a holiday special on NBC titled Trolls Holiday. Additionally, the film featured Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling”, a song that, in many ways experienced a similar success to Pharrell’s massive pop song “Happy,” which was made for the soundtrack of Despicable Me 2.
Trolls 2 was announced in 2017, a year after the first installment, with a 2020 release date already on the horizon. Co-writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger are set to return for the sequel, and Walt Dohrn is set to return as a director. Besides the original cast, other actors and musicians were signed on to be featured in the sequel, such as Chance The Rapper, Sam Rockwell, Jamie Dornan, and Karan Soni.
With the involvement of DreamWorks Animation and so much investment behind this project, it is unlikely that the film will not be released as scheduled on 2020, despite having been moved a couple of months to make room for Fast & Furious 9.
4 SING 2
Besides The Secret Life of Pets, Illumination Entertainment had another success in 2016: the feel-good musical comedy Sing, featuring several animated animals belting out pop music hits. To the surprise of no one, Sing 2 was promptly confirmed, and was slated for a Christmas of 2020 release date.
Budgeted at $75 million, Sing featured Matthew McConaughey as an entrepreneurial koala, Reese Witherspoon as a motherly pig, Seth MacFarlane as a street musician mouse, Scarlett Johansson as a rocker porcupine, Tori Kelly as a shy elephant, and Taron Egerton as a soft-hearted gorilla.
The film went on to gross over $600 million worldwide, most of which came from foreign markets. Despite having issued no official reports regarding its cast, Sing 2 is expected to bring back the original cast and feature new popular songs on its soundtrack. While not yet confirmed, writer and director Garth Jennings is also expected to sign on for the sequel.
Sing and The Secret Life of Pets have brought in new life to Illumination Entertainment outside of the Despicable Me and Minions franchise. Thus, the studio (and its parent company Universal Pictures) has been keen on investing in those properties in order to diversify its intellectual property.
3 THE BOSS BABY 2
Based on a book by Marla Frazee of the same name, DreamWorks Animation’s The Boss Baby was met with somewhat negative reviews but grossed enough money at the box office in order to earn a sequel. In 2017, DreamWorks announced that The Boss Baby 2 would be released in 2021, and that a television series titled The Boss Baby: Back in Business would come to Netflix sometime in 2018.
Starring Alec Baldwin as a businessperson who happens to be a baby, The Boss Baby has been a somewhat successful attempt from DreamWorks Animation to launch new successful properties during this decade. Alongside Trolls, The Boss Baby experienced more success than other recent original movies by the studio, such as The Croods, Home, and Turbo. Despite still being far from its 2000s heyday with the releases of three Shrek films, two Madagascar movies and the original Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks has shown signs of recovery ever since Trolls, and The Boss Baby allowed the studio to continue riding on that wave of success.
There are still no reports confirming the return of Alec Baldwin as the title character in The Boss Baby 2, and director Tom McGrath has yet to sign on for the sequel.
2 WISH DRAGON
Jackie Chan, a martial artist turned Hollywood star, has been somewhat out of sight from Hollywood since the early 2010s. Instead, the actor and creator has been focusing on developing projects in China, where he is deemed an even bigger superstar than he is in the United States.
In Wish Dragon, an animated feature co-produced by the U.S. and China, Jackie Chan is poised to return in full grandeur.
Chris Appelhans, who has done extensive animation work in the likes of The Princess and the Frog, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, and Monster House is set to write and direct Wish Dragon. In China, the film will be developed by Base Animation in partnership with Jackie Chan’s Sparkle Roll Media. In the United States, the movie is being distributed by Sony Pictures Animation. In addition to Chan, the film’s cast will also feature Constance Wu (Fresh Off The Boat, Crazy Rich Asians), Nico Santos (Superstore), and Bobby Lee (Pineapple Express).
Set in contemporary China, Wish Dragon tells the classic story of a boy who finds a genie in a bottle, but the legend is going to be adapted to fit the Chinese culture. The movie is slated for a 2019 release date.
1 BOB’S BURGERS MOVIE
Bob’s Burgers is an animated sitcom that has been running on Fox for eight years, yielding over a hundred episodes that follow the Belcher family while running their business: a hamburger restaurant. Unlike sister shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers has not yet ventured out to the big screen - but that is about to change in 2020.
A full-length Bob’s Burgers movie is currently in development and eying a release date during the summer of 2020.
Loren Bouchard – the creator of the series – will write the screenplay, and all of the actors that voice characters in the show are reportedly on board for the film. Upon announcing the animated movie, Loren Bouchard said, “We know the movie has to scratch every itch the fans of the show have ever had, but it also has to work for all the good people who’ve never seen the show.” Thus, longtime fans and new audiences alike will be taken into consideration and are intended to enjoy the Bob’s Burgers feature.
The one caveat? After Disney’s purchase of Fox, all future films produced by the studio entered uncertain terrains, and Bob’s Burgers is certainly not an on-brand property for Disney audiences.
What upcoming animated movie are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments!