The Robots Are Here!

After several weeks of domination by live-action comedies, the box office is ready for animation to once again move in and take over with today’s debut of 20th Century Fox’s Robots. With a simultaneous IMAX release. the heavily promoted CG family flick should easily claim the top spot as it rolls out in more than 3,700 theaters, nearly twice the number of venues claimed by fellow newcomer Hostage starring Bruce Willis.

Robots is the second feature from Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age), now the resident toon shop for 20th Century Fox Animation. Ice Age director Chris Wedge is back at the helm of this latest computer-generated flight of fancy that introduces moviegoers to Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor), a young inventor who goes to Robot City to meet his hero, Bigweld (Mel Brooks). His adventures lead him to take on corporate baddie Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), while being seduced by femme-bot Cappy (Halle Berry). Drew Carey, Jim Broadbent, Amanda Bynes and Robin Williams also lend their voices to the film, which is based on a book by William Joyce (Rolie, Polie, Olie; George Shrinks; A Bug’s Life).

To help drive box office receipts, Fox is throwing in some extra goodies for Robots ticket buyers. In addition to an all-new animated short film starring the Scrat character from Ice Age and the exclusive final trailer for the eagerly awaited Star Wars: Episode III–Revenge of the Sith, the studio is offering a chance to win a walk-on role in X-Men 3. After watching Robots, film fans can enter the sweepstakes by logging onto www.robotsmovie.com and answering five trivia questions about the movie.

Fox and Blue Sky are working on Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, slated for a March 2006 release. Also planned for 2006 is Open Season, a woodland critter buddy comedy featuring the voices of Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Debra Messing and Gary Sinise. Close behind in the production pipeline is Surf’s Up!, a comical, animated look inside the competitive world of penguin surfing. Directing duties go to Ash Brannon, who co-developed and co-directed Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 2, and fellow animator Chris Buck, who made his feature directing debut on Disney’s Tarzan.

It was reported in 2003 that Fox and Blue Sky have optioned film rights to Wainscott Weasel, a HarperCollins children’s book written by Tor Seidler and illustrated by Fred Marcellino. If the adaptation goes into production, it is likely to be directed by Wedge, who earned an Oscar for his 1998 short film, Bunny.

Be sure to read our cover story on Robots in the March issue of Animation Magazine, available now by subscription and at Barnes & Noble locations.