“Frozen” and “Monsters University” topped the film category for the 41st Annie Awards nominations with 10 each, followed closely by “Despicable Me 2″ and “The Croods” with nine each, in a first glimpse at of the animated awards season race. Rounding out the seven-pic field of film nominees are “A Letter to Momo,” “Ernest & Celestine” and “The Wind Rises.”
ALso, helmer Steven Spielberg is among the career achievement honorees who will receive the Winsor McCay Award at the awards ceremony.
Between its film and TV nominations, Disney racked up 31 bids total followed by DreamWorks Animation with 19 and Pixar with 18.
Disney’s “Frozen” is coming off a record-breaking holiday weekend, earning a projected $93 million Wednesday through Sunday to finish second at the domestic box office to juggernaut “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Nabbing a rare A+ CinemaScore rating, the toon picked up 81% of its opening tally from families and 57% from female auds. Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” prequel netted $470.4 million in worldwide box office since its June opening.
DWA’s “The Croods” opened early this year and was a big moneymaker, scoring $187 million domestically and overshadowing the studio’s summer release “Turbo,” which picked up six individual achievement noms. Universal’s “Despicable Me 2″ is the No. 2 movie domestically of 2013, totaling $367 million so far, since it’s still in theaters.
GKIDS’ “Momo” and “Ernest & Celestine,” and Studio Ghibli and Disney release “Wind,” the supposed last film by legendary Japanese animation auteur Hayao Miyazaki, are foreign films, which squeezed out such domestic fare as Blue Sky’s “Epic” and Sony Animation’s “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.”
Film directing bids went to Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco for “The Croods,” David Soren for “Turbo,” Chris Wedge for “Epic,” Benjamin Renner, Vince Patar and Stephane Aubier for “Ernest & Celestine” and Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee for “Frozen.”
Voice acting noms include a starry list of thesps: Paul Giamatti in “Turbo,” Terry Crews in “Cloudy 2,” Kristin Wiig, Steve Carell and Pierre Coffin for “Despicable Me 2,” Billy Crystal for “Monsters University” and “Josh Gad” for “Frozen.”
Nominees for animated short are “Despicable Me 2 — Puppy,” “Get a Horse,” “Gloria Victoria,” “My Mom Is an Airplane” and “The Numberlys.”
While the Annies have mirrored the Oscars in the past, recently winners have ping-ponged every other year. Last year’s Annie winner was Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph,” while Pixar’s “Brave” took home the Oscar. The year before, Paramount’s “Rango” nabbed both trophies.
In TV categories, best general audience animated TV nominees are FX’s “Archer,” Bento Box’s “Bob’s Burgers,” “Disney Tron Uprising,” 20th Century Fox’s “Futurama” and Titmouse’s “Motorcity.”
Children’s Audience TV noms are Cartoon Networks’ “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show,” Nickelodeon’s “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness” and “The Legend of Korra,” Warner Bros. Animation’s “Beware the Batman” and “Teen Titans Go,” Nelvana’s “Scaredy Squirrel” and Disney’s “Gravity Falls.”
The buzzed-about “Chipotle Scarecrow” ad from Moonbot Studios was nommed for best animated special production along with “Listening Is an Act of Love” by StoryCorps, “Room on the Broom” by Magic Light Pictures and “Toy Story OF TERROR” by Pixar.
Juried awards honoring career achievement and exceptional contributions to animation will be presented to Spielberg, Katsuhiro Otomo and Phil Tippett (Winsor McCay Award), Alice Davis (June Foray Award) and docu “I Know That Voice” (Certificate of Merit).
ASIFA-Hollywood president Frank Gladstone noted the high volume of submissions for the Annies this year.
“We had more submissions to chose from this year, running the gamut from big studio features to indie films, television series to Internet shows, games, shorts and student films,” he said in announcing the nominees.
The 41st Annie Awards will be held on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, hosted by thesp Patrick Warburton. For a complete list of nominees, go to http://www.annieawards.org/.