ByAllanah Faherty, writer at Creators.co
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

Over the last 30 years animated films have gone from being simple children's entertainment to total works of art. After and headed the change in the 90s, competition between studios heated up, meaning audiences of all ages have multiple beautiful animated films to look forward to every year.

Over the next three years the world of animation is going to give viewers long awaited sequels, adaptations of beloved books and original stories sure to tug at heartstrings. To help you out, we’ve come up with a guide to the most anticipated new animated movie releases of 2017 and beyond. Take a look below to see all the upcoming animated films that we can look forward to seeing over the next few years:

1. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

[Credit Dreamworks/Nerdist]
[Credit Dreamworks/Nerdist]
  • Release date: June 2, 2017
  • Director: David Soren
  • Voices: Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms

The successful (and somewhat controversial) Captain Underpants book series is finally getting a film adaptation in 2017, thanks to DreamWorks! Ed Helms will voice the titular character with Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Kristen Schaal, Nick Kroll and Jordan Peele also rounding out the cast. While the plot is being kept under wraps for the time being, we recently learned with the release of the official poster that the full title is Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie.

Read more about here:

2. Cars 3

Lightning and co return in 2017 [Disney Pixar]
Lightning and co return in 2017 [Disney Pixar]
  • Release date: June 16, 2017
  • Director: Brian Fee
  • Voices: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper

After the massive success of Cars, and the middling success of Cars 2, Disney Pixar are taking another swing at the franchise with a third installment. This time around we've been promised an emotional story similar to the original film, which will focus on Lightning McQueen's relationship with, and memory, of Doc Hudson. Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy and Cheech Marin will all reprise their roles with new cast members yet to be announced.

Check out the first trailer for the film below:

Read more on Cars 3 here:

3. Despicable Me 3

  • Release date: June 30, 2017
  • Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
  • Voices: Jenny Slate, Kristen Wiig, Steve Carell

With two enormously popular films already in the franchise, Gru, Lucy and the adorable minions will return for in 2017. Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig and Miranda Cosgrove will reprise their roles, with Trey Parker also joining the lineup to voice Balthazar Bratt, Gru's new nemesis. Bratt is a former 80s child star who has been angry at the world since the cancellation of his TV show, and his hatred of being mocked is what eventually drives him to plot global domination.

Read more on Despicable Me 3 here:

4.The Emoji Movie

  • Release date: 28 July 2017
  • Director: Tony Leondis
  • Voices: T.J. Miller, Anna Faris, Sofía Vergara

Just when you thought Hollywood had run out of original ideas, Sony goes ahead and pulls out . Based on the actual emojis in our phones, The Emoji Movie will be voiced by big names such as T.J. Miller, James Corden and Ilana Glazer, who we can only hope signed onto the film because they were hard up for cash. Check out the synopsis below:

'The Emoji Movie' unlocks the never-before-seen secret world inside your smartphone. Hidden within the messaging app is Textopolis, a bustling city where all your favorite emojis live, hoping to be selected by the phone’s user. In this world, each emoji has only one facial expression – except for Gene (T.J. Miller), an exuberant emoji who was born without a filter and is bursting with multiple expressions. Determined to become "normal" like the other emojis, Gene enlists the help of his handy best friend Hi-5 (James Corden) and the notorious code breaker emoji Jailbreak (Ilana Glazer). Together, they embark on an epic "app-venture" through the apps on the phone, each its own wild and fun world, to find the Code that will fix Gene. But when a greater danger threatens the phone, the fate of all emojis depends on these three unlikely friends who must save their world before it’s deleted forever.''

Read more about The Emoji Movie below:

5. Blazing Samurai

Blazing Samurai
Blazing Samurai
  • Release date: TBA
  • Director: Chris Bailey
  • Voices: Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh

Loosely based on Blazing Saddles comes Open Road Films' next hit ! The film will have an all-animal cast and some big name voice actors have signed onto the project, including Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Michelle Yeoch, Ricky Gervais, Mel Brooks and George Takei. Check out the synopsis:

An action-packed comedy about a scrappy young dog named Hank who fights to save the town of Kakamucho from becoming the litter box of a nefarious feline warlord, transforming society and himself on his quest to become a true samurai.

Read more about Blazing Samurai here:

6. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

The Nut Job
The Nut Job
  • Release date: August 18, 2017
  • Director: Cal Brunker
  • Voices: Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph

After the success of the first film, the animated squirrels and various parkland critters are returning for The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature! Will Arnett will reprise his role as Surly, who, together with the park animals, bands together to prevent the mayor from bulldozing Liberty Park and building an amusement park. In addition to Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Gabriel Inglesias and Maya Rudolph will reprise their roles from the first film with Jackie Chan and Bobby Moynihan joining the franchise for the first time.

Read more about The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature here:

7. The LEGO Ninjago Movie

  • Release date: September 22, 2017
  • Director: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher
  • Voices: Olivia Munn, Justin Theroux, Dave Franco

After the success of The LEGO Movie, there's a whole bunch of LEGO-based films on the cards including upcoming spinoff Ninjago. Olivia Munn, Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Jackie Chan, Michael Peña, Abbi Jacobson, Kumail Nanjiani and Fred Armisen will all lend their voices to the film which is based on the LEGO series, as well as the Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu TV series. Check out the synopsis:

Six young ninjas are tasked with defending their island home of Ninjago. By night, they’re gifted warriors using their skill and awesome fleet of vehicles to fight villains and monsters. By day, they’re ordinary teens struggling against their greatest enemy....high school.

8. My Little Pony: The Movie

[Credit: Lionsgate]
[Credit: Lionsgate]
  • Release date: 6 October 2017
  • Director: Jayson Thiessen
  • Voices: Zoe Saldana, Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth

The massively popular toy and TV franchise, My Little Pony is about to get its own movie! The voice cast is packed with star power including the original TV cast as well as Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Liev Schreiber, Michael Peña, Taye Diggs, Uzo Aduba, and Zoe Saldan and Sia, who also composed an original song for the film. Take a look at the synopsis:

A new dark force is threatening Ponyville, and the Mane 6 – Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Rarity – embark on a quest beyond Equestria to use the magic of friendship and save their home.

9. The Star

(First art for The Star is yet to be revealed)
(First art for The Star is yet to be revealed)
  • Release date: November 10, 2017
  • Director: Timothy Reckart
  • Voices: Gina Rodriguez, Kristin Chenoweth, Zachary Levi

Sony Pictures are opting for a faith-based film for their upcoming movie The Star, which is being directed by Tim Reckart. The film, formerly called The Lamb, is inspired by the Christian nativity story, and will have an all-animal cast. Here's the brief synopsis:

A small but brave donkey and his animal friends become the unsung heroes of the first Christmas.

10. Coco

Official poster for Coco [Credit: Disney Pixar]
Official poster for Coco [Credit: Disney Pixar]
  • Release date: November 22, 2017
  • Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
  • Voices: Benjamin Bratt, Gael García Bernal, Renee Victor

Pixar's next original film on the release schedule is the adorable looking Coco, a film directed by Lee Unkrich and inspired by the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos. Plot details for Coco are still being tightly guarded though we do know that the film will follow 12-year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) who sets off a chain of events related to a century-old mystery. Benjamin Bratt, Gael García Bernal, Renee Victor will also join Gonzalez in lending their voices to the film. Here's the official story description:

Coco is the celebration of a lifetime, where the discovery of a generations-old mystery leads to a most extraordinary and surprising family reunion.

Read more about Coco here:

11. Ferdinand

  • Release date: December 15, 2017
  • Director: Carlos Saldanha
  • Voices: Daveed Diggs, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Cannavale

Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age, Rio) are about to bring a much loved picture book to life, with an animated adaptation of The Story of Ferdinand. The film, which is to be simply titled , will be based on the controversial 1936 book, which was banned in many countries for supposedly promoting pacifism (not surprisingly, Mahatma Gandhi called it his favorite book). WWE star, John Cena will voice the titular character with Kate McKinnon, David Tennant and Gina Rodriguez also joining. Here's the synopsis:

Ferdinand, a little bull, prefers sitting quietly under a cork tree just smelling the flowers versus jumping around, snorting, and butting heads with other bulls. As Ferdinand grows big and strong, his temperament remains mellow, but one day five men come to choose the “biggest, fastest, roughest bull” for the bullfights in Madrid and Ferdinand is mistakenly chosen.

12. Paddington 2

Paddington [Credit: StudioCanal]
Paddington [Credit: StudioCanal]
  • Release date: 12 January, 2018
  • Director: Paul King
  • Voices: Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent

After the success of the beautifully animated and scripted 2014 film Paddington, everyone's favorite marmalade-loving bear will soon return in a sequel. The live-action/animated film will see Paddington having settled into the Brown family home in London and searching for a gift for his aunt Lucy's 100th birthday. When Paddington finds the perfect pop-up book in Mr. Gruber's antique store, he begins working a series of odd-jobs to earn the money to buy it. However, when the book is stolen, Paddington — along with the Browns — must track down and unmask the book thief. Much of the cast from the original film, including Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, will reprise their roles, with Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson also signing on to appear.

Read more about Paddington 2 here:

13. Peter Rabbit

Peter Rabbit 2012 TV series [Credit: 9 Story International]
Peter Rabbit 2012 TV series [Credit: 9 Story International]
  • Release date: 9 February 2018
  • Director: Will Gluck
  • Voices: Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, Daisy Ridley

Beatrix Potter's beloved book, is finally getting a big screen adaptation and will be hopping into theaters in 2018. James Corden will be lending his voice to leading bunny, Peter Rabbit, with Domhnall Gleeson as Mr. McGregor. Rose Byrne, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki and Daisy Ridley have also signed onto the film.

Read more about Peter Rabbit here:

14. Early Man

[Credit: StudioCanal]
[Credit: StudioCanal]
  • Release date: 16 February 2018
  • Director: Nick Park
  • Voices: Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Eddie Redmayne

From the creators of Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run comes Aardman Animations next project, Early Man, a movie about the world's first game of football (soccer). Early Man has a brilliant cast of talented British actors including Eddie Redmayne as Dug, Tom Hiddleston as Lord Nooth, Maisie Williams as Goona and Richard Ayoade as Treebor. Here's the current synopsis:

Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of courageous caveman hero Dug and his best friend Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth and his Bronze Age City to save their home.

15. Gnomeo & Juliet: Sherlock Gnomes

[Credit: Paramount Pictures]
[Credit: Paramount Pictures]
  • Release date: 23 March 2018
  • Director: John Stevenson
  • Voices: Johnny Depp, James McAvoy, Emily Blunt

Seven years after the original Gnomeo and Juliet was released, its sequel Gnomeo & Juliet is planned for release! James Mcavoy and Emily Blunt will reprise their roles as Gnomeo and Juliet in the upcoming film, with Johnny Depp joining the cast as Sherlock Gnomes, an "ornamental detective" charged with helping to recover disappearing gnomes. Take a look at the synopsis:

When gnomes start disappearing from the suburban gardens of England, Gnomeo, Juliet and friends enlist the help of Sherlock Gnomes, "the greatest ornamental detective," to track the culprit. Unfortunately, Sherlock is neither as brilliant nor as insightful as his human counterpart, and as the crimes against gnomanity continue, the threat to their world becomes bigger than they ever imagined.

16. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2

Wreck-It Ralph returns! [Credit: Walt Disney Pictures]
Wreck-It Ralph returns! [Credit: Walt Disney Pictures]
  • Release date: March 8, 2018
  • Director: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
  • Voices: John C. Reilly, Alan Tudyk, James Corden

After the success of the original film, Disney is bringing Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz back to screen in a sequel film! The release date for the movie was recently confirmed to be March 8, 2018 and the film will apparently take place six years after the first, focussing on Ralph's adventures on the internet after a wifi router is plugged into the arcade! Watch out, Ralph is causing chaos online!

17. Anubis

  • Release date: March 23, 2018

Blue Sky Studios is bringing Bruce Zick's 2006 fantasy novel The Anubis Tapestry: Between Twilights to life with this 2018 film . Little else is known about the project at this stage except that the first draft of the film was written by David H. Steinberg who has previously worked on American Pie 2 and The Simpsons. Take a look at the synopsis below:

A mummy's curse condemns Dr. George Henry's spirit to the Egyptian Underworld. While trying to free him, Henry's son Chance plumbs the depths of the Underworld and encounters a variety of monsters.

18. Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

[Credit: Facebook/Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero]
[Credit: Facebook/Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero]
  • Release date: 13 April 2018
  • Director: Richard Lanni, Bibo Bergeron
  • Voices: Helena Bonham Carter, Logan Lerman, Gérard Depardieu

Based on the incredible true story of one of the most decorated war dogs of World War I, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero will retell the tale (tail?) of Sergeant Stubby and the bond he developed with the doughboys of the 26th "Yankee" Division at the onset of America's entry into WWI. From a stray mutt, Sgt. Stubby was the first dog to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant in American history, thanks to his loyalty to his fellow soldiers.

19. The Incredibles 2

[Credit:Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures]
[Credit:Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures]
  • Release date: 15 June 2018
  • Director: Brad Bird
  • Voices: Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell

The long awaited sequel to Brad Bird's The Incredibles is set for release in 2019 - an impressive 14 years after the original film. Bird will be returning to write and direct with Michael Giacchino returning as composer. The film will once again be focussed on super-family, the Parrs, with rumors that the youngest member of the Parr clan, Jack Jack, may be the film's villain.

20. Hotel Transylvania 3

[Credit:Columbia Pictures]
[Credit:Columbia Pictures]
  • Release date: July 13, 2018
  • Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
  • Voices: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg

Hotel Transylvania will get a threequel in 2018 when Hotel Transylvania 3 hits cinemas. The details for the plot are non-existent at this point in time, though we know that Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez are all expected to reprise their roles as Dracula, Jonathan and Mavis.

21. Amusement Park

  • Release date: 10 August 2018
  • Director: Dylan Brown
  • Voices: Mila Kunis, Jennifer Garner, Jeffrey Tambor

This one is a bit of a mystery, but in 2019 Paramount Animated will release a film titled Amusement Park, which will mark the directorial debut from former Pixar directing animator Dylan Brown. At present we have no details about the plot, but we do know that Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Garner, Jeffrey Tambor, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Mila Kunis, John Oliver and Brianna Denski will all lend their voices to the project.

22. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Illumination Studios version of the Grinch
Illumination Studios version of the Grinch
  • Release date: November 9, 2018
  • Director: Peter Candeland, Yarrow Cheney
  • Voices: Benedict Cumberbatch

Illumination Studios are rebooting a Christmas classic in 2018 with a brand new animated version of Dr. Suess's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We currently know that Benedict Cumberbatch is on board to voice the Grinch, Kaitlyn Maher will voice Cindy Lou Who and Laura Dickinson will voice Bird.

23. Untitled Animated Spider-Man Movie

  • Release date: 14 December 2018
  • Director: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey
  • Voices: Liev Schreiber, Shameik Moore

Director Bob Persichetti will bring audiences an animated Spider-Man movie in 2018, with a Spider-Man film which will exist as an aside to the Spider-Man films in the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe. We currently have very few details on the film, with a voice cast yet to be announced.

24. The LEGO Movie Sequel

[Credit:Warner Bros. Pictures]
[Credit:Warner Bros. Pictures]
  • Release date: February 8, 2019
  • Director: Mike Mitchell
  • Voices: TBA

Warner Bros. were quick to greenlight The LEGO Movie Sequel after the overwhelming success of the first film, and although the project has already been pushed back one year, it's still very much in production. Directors of the first film, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, will return to the sequel as producers, meanwhile Mike Mitchell (Trolls) will be at the helm. Details on the plot are yet to be revealed, though the film will include more female characters than the original.

25. How to Train Your Dragon 3

[Credit:Universal Pictures]
[Credit:Universal Pictures]
  • Release date: March 1, 2019
  • Director: Dean DeBlois
  • Voices: T.J. Miller, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler

The third act of the awesome How to Train Your Dragon trilogy is set to fly into cinemas in mid-2018. The film has been confirmed to be following the plot of the Cressida Cowell novels, which state at the very beginning of the series that there are no more dragons in the world. Director Dean DuBlois has said that the film will begin with an adult Hiccup reflecting on a time when dragons existed. But why exactly the dragons disappeared and whether or not they might return is a mystery that won't be unveiled until the film is released.

Read more about How to Train Your Dragon 3 here:

26. Toy Story 4

[Credit: Pixar]
[Credit: Pixar]
  • Release date: June 21, 2019
  • Director: John Lasseter, Josh Cooley
  • Voices: Tom Hanks, Joan Cusack, Laurie Metcalf

It was the film that launched a studio, and now the franchise is preparing to release the fourth installment, with Pixar giant John Lasseter at the helm. Plot details on at currently under wraps, but we do know that the film will not continue on from the third film, and instead act as a standalone sequel focussing on the romance between Woody and Bo Peep, who will be a welcome sight after her absence from Toy Story 3.

Read more about Toy Story 4 here:

27. Secret Life of Pets 2

[Credit: Universal Studios/Illumination Entertainment]
[Credit: Universal Studios/Illumination Entertainment]
  • Release date: July 3, 2019
  • Director: Chris Renaud
  • Voices: TBA

Clever and undeniably cute, Secret Life of Pets was an instant hit when it grossed $875 million worldwide upon release in 2016. Smelling more stories waiting to be told from these plucky pups and their furry friends, Universal and Illumination are going ahead with a sequel currently planned for 2019.

28. Spongebob Squarepants 3

[Credit: Paramount Pictures]
[Credit: Paramount Pictures]
  • Release date: 2 August 2019
  • Director: Paul Tibbitt
  • Voices: Clancy Brown, Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke

Paul Tibbitt is set to direct the third Spongebob Squarepants film, which will center on a story written by himself and Spongebob TV series writer Kyle McCulloch. The majority of the main voice cast from the TV series are expected to reprise their roles for the film.

29. Trolls 2

[Credit: Universal/DreamWorks Animation]
[Credit: Universal/DreamWorks Animation]
  • Release date: April 10, 2020
  • Director: TBA
  • Voices: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake

Following the success of Trolls, which starred Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, Universal and DreamWorks Animation have confirmed that the Trolls will be back for Trolls 2! The sequel has been scheduled to arrive on April 10, 2020 and although Kendrick and Timberlake will reprise their roles as Poppy and Branch, Trolls directors Mike Mitchell will not direct the sequel as he's already on board to direct The LEGO Movie 2.

30. Minions 2

[Credit: Universal Studios/Illumination Entertainment]
[Credit: Universal Studios/Illumination Entertainment]
  • Release date: July 3, 2020
  • Director: TBA
  • Voices: Pierre Coffin

Is it any surprise that these little yellow guys are getting a sequel when their original spinoff film managed to net Universal and Illumination $1.15 billion worldwide? No, no it's not.

After Kevin, Stuart and Bob's adventures in Minions, the movie ended with the minions seeing a young Gru as their new potential master. While we don't yet know what Minions 2 will be about, we could get to see the early days of the minions partnership with their master, and the dastardly deeds they got up to prior to the events of Despicable Me.

31. Gigantic

Official artwork for Gigantic [Credit: Disney]
Official artwork for Gigantic [Credit: Disney]
  • Release date: 25 November 2020
  • Director: Nathan Greno, Meg LeFauve
  • Voices: TBA

Loosely based on the classic fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk comes Pixar's . The film is set in Spain during the age of Exploration and follow a young man named Jack (of course) as he finds a world of giants hidden inside clouds. Jack then befriends a young giant named Inma, who's "11 years old, 60 feet tall, fiery, feisty and a lot to control." In addition to Jack and Inma, we also know the film will star a group of enormous antagonist giants named the Storm Giants.

32. Sing 2

[Credit: Universal Studios/Illumination Entertainment]
[Credit: Universal Studios/Illumination Entertainment]
  • Release date: December 25, 2020
  • Director: TBA
  • Voices: TBA

With the original film already grossing over $429 million worldwide, it seems like Universal and Illumination know they have a hit on their hands with Sing and have already planned a sequel for Christmas 2020.

33. The Billion Brick Race

  • Release date: TBA
  • Director: TBA
  • Voices: TBA

The Billion Brick Race will be the third LEGO spin-off from Warner Bros, and will reportedly be directed by Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3 writer), and written by both Pearce and Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother). Pearce told Nerd Report that he hoped the film would end up being "the biggest race movie of all time" and envisioned a kind of "part Cannonball Run, part Wacky Races," with a "real working class Rocky style blue collar vibe to it." Intriguing! Can't wait for more details to be released.

34. Sly Cooper

  • Release date: TBA
  • Director: Kevin Munroe
  • Voices: Ian James Corlett, Matt Olsen, Chris Murphy

Directed by Kevin Munroe (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ratchet & Clank) comes the Sly Cooper movie, a film based on the video game series of the same name. Ian Hames Corlett is voicing the titular character, with Matt Olsen and Chris Murphy reprising their roles as Bentley and Murray. Unfortunately there's no release date locked in for the film as yet but fans are holding out hope for the big screen adaptation some time soon. Check out the synopsis below:

Sly Cooper is a kinetic and comedic heist film that tells the story of Sly Cooper, an orphaned raccoon thief, along with his childhood friends and partners in crime, Bentley Turtle and Murray Hippo. In the film, Sly learns of his birth family’s secret legacy; that he comes from a long line of talented and international thieves. Endowed with this knowledge, Sly and his friends are catapulted into a global adventure as they race to reassemble pieces of an ancient book holding The Cooper Clan’s family secrets before it can fall into the hands of Clockwerk – an evil Russian metallic owl bent on ending the Cooper family line. From romantic Parisian backdrops to the lush mountains of China, gritty film noir meets bright, colorful graphic novels in this origin story of the world’s greatest thief-turned-hero.

Which animated film are you most looking forward to?

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