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The Major Studio Animated Movies of 2021: Your Don’t-Miss List!

In the Game in 2021
In the Game in 2021

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The Major Studio Animated Movies of 2021: Your Don’t-Miss List!

Here’s an early look at the major U.S. studio animated releases of the year. All release dates are subject to change because of the unpredictability of theatrical openings worldwide:

The Addams Family 2. MGM’s 2019 feature about the popular and kooky family gets a fast sequel, with new voices Bill Hader and Javon “Wanna” Walton. Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler and Snoop Dogg resume their original roles. Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon also return as directors. MGM/UA, Oct. 8

Arlo the Alligator Boy. Ryan Crego’s 2D animated musical follows the adventures of an alligator-boy who heads to New York City in search of his long-lost father. Featuring the voices of Michael J. Woodard, Mary Lambert, Flea, Annie Potts and Tony Hale. Netflix/Titmouse

Back to the Outback. Directed by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps, this musical comedy follows the adventures of a ragtag group of Australia’s deadliest creatures which launch a daring escape from their zoo. With Isla Fisher, Tim Minchin, Eric Bana, Guy Pearce, Miranda Tapsell, Rachel House, Keith Urban, Jackie Weaver and Diesel Cash La Torraca. Netflix/Reel FX, Fall 2021

The Bad Guys. Directed by Pierre Perifel, this CG-animated adaptation of Aaron Blabey’s book centers on several reformed yet misunderstood villains (Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark and Ms. Tarantula) who decide to live their lives as forces of good! DreamWorks/Universal [Moved to 2022]

Bob’s Burgers: The Movie. Loren Bouchard brings his beloved Fox TV family to the big screen in this fun, musical comedy featuring the series’ main cast (H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, John Roberts and Kristen Schaal) and some special guest voices as well. 20th Century/Bento Box, April 9

The Boss Baby: Family Business (DreamWorks Animation)

The Boss Baby: Family Business (DreamWorks Animation)

The Boss Baby: Family Business. Director Tom McGrath and original Boss Baby voice actor Alec Baldwin return to the world of the 2017 blockbuster. In the sequel, Tim (James Marsden) and Ted (Baldwin) are now grown up, and there’s a new Boss Baby in the house — baby Tina (Amy Sedaris), who is tasked with uncovering the evil plot by Dr. Erwin Armstrong (Jeff Goldblum), the principal of Tim’s daughter’s school. DreamWorks/Universal, September 17.

Connected (Sony Pictures Animation)

Connected (Sony Pictures Animation)

Connected. Produced by Chris Miller and Phil Lord and directed by Gravity Falls alum Mike Rianda, this clever new comedy-adventure follows a suburban family as they face a global takeover by hostile computers. Voiced by Maya Rudolph, Danny McBride, Olivia Colman, Abbi Jacobson and Eric Andre. Co-directed by Jeff Rowe. Sony Pictures Animation, Netflix, Late Spring

Encanto. The 60th animated feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios centers on a Colombian girl who lacks special powers, despite coming from a magical family. Directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush (Zootopia) and co-directed by Charise Castro Smith, and produced by Clark Spencer, Yvett Merino Flores and Jennifer Lee. Disney, Nov. 24

Encanto (Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Encanto (Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Hotel Transylvania 4. Count Dracula (Adam Sandler), his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and regular human son-in-law Jonathan (Andy Samberg) continue their wild and wacky adventures in this fourth outing for the popular animated monster clan. Directed by Derek Dymon and Jennifer Kluska. Franchise maestro Genndy Tartakosvky writes and executive produces the latest entry. Sony Pictures Animation, August 6

Luca. Directed by Enrico Casarosa and produced by Andrea Warren, Pixar’s 24th feature is set on the beautiful Italian Riviera. Described as a coming-of-age story, the movie centers on a young boy’s unforgettable summer, filled with gelato, pasta, scooter rides and a sea monster from another world. Disney/Pixar, June 18

Luca (Pixar Animation Studios)

Luca (Pixar Animation Studios)

Minions: The Rise of Gru. Delayed from last year, this much-anticipated prequel centers on the origins of the evil mastermind Gru (Steve Carell) and is directed by Kyle Balda and co-directors Brad Ableson and Jonathan del Val. With the voices of Alan Arkin, Julie Andrews, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Taraji P. Henson, Danny Trejo, Lucy Lawless, Michelle Yeoh and Russell Brand! Universal/Illumination, July 2

Minions: The Rise of Gru

Minions: The Rise of Gru

PAW Patrol: The Movie. Keith Chapman’s beloved animated canines are heading for the big screen in this eagerly awaited adventure, directed by Cal Brunker (The Nut Job 2). The plot finds Ryder and the pups in Adventure City to stop Mayor Humdinger from turning the bustling metropolis into a state of chaos. The very odd voice cast includes Iain Armitage, Kim Kardashian West, Jimmy Kimmel, Yara Shahidi, Jimmy Kimmel, Dax Shepard and Tyler Perry. Paramount/Spin Master/Mikros, August 20

Raya and the Last Dragon. Directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, this Disney fantasy epic is set in a magical world where humans coexist with dragons and draws from Southeast Asian cultures and mythology. Written By Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians) and Qui Nguyen. With the voices of Kelly Marie Tran (Raya) and Awkwafina (Sisu the Water Dragon). Disney, March 12

Raya and the Last Dragon (Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Raya and the Last Dragon (Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Ron’s Gone Wrong.  Pixar story veteran Jean-Philippe Vine (Inside Out) and Sarah Smith (Arthur Christmas) direct U.K.-based Locksmith Animation’s first feature, which follows the adventures of a 12-year-old boy who ends up with a bot best friend who doesn’t quite work like all the others. Produced by Locksmith co-founder Julie Lockhart, with a script by Smith and Peter Baynham. Locksmith Animation/20th Century Studios, Oct. 22

Rumble. Directed by Hamish Grieve (head of story on Rise of the Guardians), this CG-animated pic is set in a world where monster wrestling is a global sport and follows teenager Winnie as she seeks to follow in her dad’s footsteps by coaching a lovable monster. Matt Lieberman (Scoob!, The Addams Family) penned the script. With the voices of Will Arnett, Ben Schwartz, Geraldine Viswanathan, Terry Crews, Becky Lynch and Charles Barkley. Paramount, May 14

Rumble (Paramount Animation)

Rumble (Paramount Animation)

Sing 2. The musically gifted animals of Illumination’s hit movie return in this holiday release, which finds them leaving Moon Theater for the lights of the big city. Writer/director Garth Jennings is back with voice stars Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, Nick Kroll and Tori Kelly. Illumination/Universal, Dec. 22

Space Jam: A New Legacy. Malcolm D. Lee (Night School) directs this sequel to the popular 1996 live-action/animation hybrid sports comedy. The new outing features LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green, as well as Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Pepe Le Pew, Marvin the Martian and Lola Bunny. James is also producing the movie with Ryan Coogler (Creed, Black Panther), who co-wrote the script with Sev Ohanian (Fruitvale Station). Warner Animation Group, July 16

Spirit Untamed (DreamWorks Animation)

Spirit Untamed (DreamWorks Animation)

Spirit Untamed. Lucky Prescott’s life is changed forever when she moves from her home in the city to a small frontier town and befriends a wild mustang named Spirit in this feature outing of the popular animated show, developed by Aury Wallington. Directed by DreamWorks veterans Elaine Bogan (Trollhunters, Dragons: Race to the Edge) and Ennio Torresan (head of story on Abominable, The Boss Baby). DreamWorks/Universal, June 4

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run. Our optimistic hero searches for his beloved snail Gary in this charming CG-animated spin on the two-decades-old 2D toon. Directed by Tim Hill, featuring the talents of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Mr. Lawrence, Jill Talley, Carolyn Lawrence, Awkwakina, Reggie Watts, Keanu Reeves and Snoop Dogg! Paramount/Nickelodeon/Mikro/CBS All Access, Early 2021

Tom and Jerry (Warner Animation Group)

Tom and Jerry (Warner Animation Group)

Tom and Jerry. Tim Story (Ride Along 2, Shaft) directs this live-action/CG hybrid take on the classic Hanna-Barbera characters, which finds the cat and mouse duo causing trouble in a posh hotel in Manhattan. Stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Ken Jeong, Rob Delaney, Pallavi Sharda and Colin Jost, and features the voices of Frank Welker and the late William Hanna, June Foray and Mel Blanc via archival footage. Warner Animation Group/HBO Max, March 5

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans. This movie enterprise based on Guillermo del Toro’s Tales of Arcadia trilogy is directed by Johane Matte, Francisco Ruiz Velasco and Andrew L. Schmidt. It finds the heroes of Trollhunters, 3Below and Wizards fighting the Arcane Order for control over the magic that binds them all. With the voices of Emile Hirsch, Lexi Medrano, Charlie Saxton, Kelsey Grammer, Alfred Molina, Steven Yeun, Nick Frost, Diego Luna, Tatiana Maslany, Nick Offerman, Tom Kenny, Laraine Newman, Grey Griffin and Cheryl Hines. DreamWorks/Netflix

Vivo. Directed by Kirk DeMicco and co-directed by Brandon Jeffords, this colorful CG-animated feature is based on a screenplay by DeMicco and Quiara Alegría Hudes (In the Heights) with songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Described as an “incredible story about music and friendship,” the movie will take audiences on an epic adventure to gorgeous and vibrant locations never before seen in animation. Produced by Lisa Stewart, Rich Moore and Michelle Wong. Sony Pictures Animation, June 4

Wish Dragon. Penned and directed by Chris Applehans, this modern-day fairy tale centers on the moral challenges that emerge from the encounter between a young boy and a dragon who can make his wishes come true. Jackie Chan, who’s producing the movie, is also providing the voice of Pipa God. With Constance Wu, John Cho, Will Yun Lee, Jimmy Wong and Bobby Lee. Sony Pictures Animations/Base FX/Flagship Ent. Group

Also in 2021:
The Adventures of Pil (TAT Productions, France 3 Cinema, SND)
Batman: Soul of the Dragon (Warner Bros. Animation, DC Ent.)
Batman: The Long Halloween (Warner Bros. Animation, DC Ent.)
Bombay Rose (Cinestaan, Les Film d’Ici, Goldfinch, Netflix)
Calamity: A Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary (Maybe Movies, Noerlum Studios, Shout! Factory)
Clifford the Big Red Dog (Paramount, Scholastic, Walden)
Detective Conan: The Scarlet Bullet (TMS)
Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train (Aniplex, Ufotable, Funimation)
Earwig and the Witch (Studio Ghibli, GKIDS)
Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time (Khara)
Hansel and Gretel (Wizart)
Inu-Oh (Science Saru)
Justice Society: World War II (Warner Bros. Animation, DC Ent.)
Kill It and Leave This Town (Bombonierka, Gigant Films, Outsider Pictures)
Las Leyendas: El Origen (Anima Estudios)
My Friend Finnick (Riki Group)
My Little Pony Movie Untitled (Paramount, Allspark, Entertainment One)
Sailor Moon Eternal (Toei Animation)

Sailor Moon Eternal (Toei Animation)

Sailor Moon Eternal (Toei Animation)

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