Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sony Animation's Slate Changes

Today, Sony Pictures really locked things down...

They now have a huge slate of films - both live-action and some animated - that ends at summer 2019! Now they are in the Disney and Warner Bros ranks when it comes to slates. The live-action stuff is a mix of familiar franchise stuff (a live-action Barbie movie), along with expected sequels (Bad Boys 3 & 4, The Equalizer 2, Resident Evil 6), and some originals too. Some films that were already on the slate saw date changes, such as the all-female Ghostbusters reboot.

Anyways, onto the animation details...

Sony Pictures Animation's slate, until now, was mostly a mystery. Back in summer 2013, they slated two films for 9/23/2016 and 9/22/2017 respectively. Until the hacking and management changes last year, it seemed like the next few features - excepting Get Smurfy - would be the likes of Popeye and Medusa.

They wisely waited to see what was in fine enough shape to put into the slots, but as they waited, Warner Bros. made a move with their animated features. Original feature Storks was slated for 9/23/2016, and Ninjago landed in the 9/22/2017 slot (after being in the 9/23/2016 slot for a long while), giving Sony something of a dilemma.

Well, now it looks like Sony Animation won't be releasing anything on 9/23/2016. Or in 2016, period. I had speculated a while ago that they could possibly sit the year out, and it looks like they will be doing such. Sony ImageWorks and Rovio co-production The Angry Birds Movie will be the distributor's sole 2016 animation release. They'll be releasing the live-action remake of The Magnificent Seven on 9/23/2016 instead of an animated film. They also don't seem to be releasing anything on 9/22/2017 either.

So what is next from them? And when does it come out?

Faith-based feature The Lamb, which the studio announced back in September, will be their next. It'll open on December 8, 2017, a few weeks after untitled Pixar and a few weeks before DreamWorks' The Croods 2. Seems like a good, kind of out-of-the-way spot for it, plus it is probably about the nativity scene so the release date makes sense.

Nothing was slated for 2018. Sony only has one film set for a 2018 release, and that's an animated Spider-Man movie that'll be produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Ever since it was announced, I keep wondering... Is it a Sony ImageWorks production? Or a Sony Animation one? Probably the former.

It's possible that the untitled 9/22/2017 animated release may still be planned, but I doubt it. I think, when revealing a new slate that goes up to 2019, Sony would specify if there will still plans to open a Sony Animation film on that date. Again, Ninjago has it locked up as well. Sony kind of owned that late September slot, now Warner Bros has yanked it from them. The Lamb, thankfully, is being given time to come together. I'd rather they sit 2016 out and take the time to make The Lamb a successful and (hopefully) good picture.

What follows? Who knows. 2018 could be home to either Medusa or Can You Imagine? (it seems that Genndy will be focusing on that for the time being, and may not return to Popeye), if not, Superbago or maybe even another Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs sequel. I'm surprised one hasn't been talked about, considering how profitable the second film in the series was...

What do you think of this slate change? Do you think Sony Animation is slowly but surely building a decent future for themselves? Do you think The Lamb is a good choice for their post-hacking slate? Sound off below!

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