Universal’s DreamWorks Animation has unveiled first-look images of “Marooned,” the latest title in its burgeoning short films program. The film is produced by Jeff Hermann, just attached to produce Tom McGrath’s “The Boss Baby 2.”
Directed by Andrew Erekson,“Marooned” world premieres on June 11 at France’s Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival as part of a DreamWorks Animation feature presentation which has now been expanded, to offer a first look at “Trolls World Tour,” the sequel to “Trolls,” which earned $347 million worldwide.
Part of a muscular DreamWorks Animation Annecy presence, hosted by president Margie Cohn, the DWA feature presentation will also showcase excerpts from “Abominable,” written and directed by Jill Culton, as previously announced.
Hermann and Erekson, a story artist on “How To Train Your Dragon,” will both attend the Annecy presentation. Billed as a stylized look at a not too distant future, “Marooned” turns on C-oR13, a cantankerous and selfish robot stranded at an abandoned lunar outpost, who longs to return to earth. With a partially built ship and his last power resources, he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal, the official synopsis runs. But his character and his mission will be put to the test, it adds, when he learns what it is to be truly selfless.
The first-look key stills bring out CoR13’s very human plight and very human story.
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Ungainly, heavy on its rollers,CoR13 looks like it belongs to an early rudimentary generation of robots. He’s been on his own a long time: There’s rust on his bodywork. He’s also utterly alone: the background is of black space,, not the reassuring earth, and he’s running out of time, dependent on a small battery:
Most to the point, he’s been mistreated, regarded as useless: When the mission abandoned the lunar outpost, it abandoned CoR13 as well. But, the film seems set to suggest, when he receives care, attention and respect, he can pay back in kind.
“Marooned’s” score is by Irish composer Amie Doherty, one of eight finalists in the inaugural Universal Film Music Composer Initiative: DreamWorks Animation, aimed at identifying up-and-coming composers with a view to creating original scores for two DreamWorks Animation short films as well as enhancing awareness of new composers among executives, producers and directors.
The world’s foremost animation festival and industry gathering, Annecy has proved a major sounding board in recent years for animated shorts and the new talent attached to them. World premiered at Annecy in 2012, “Paperman” became Walt Disney Animation Studios’ first Academy Award winning short in 43 years.
Two further cases in point are “Bilby” and “Bird Karma,” the first titles in DWA’s shorts program, which was developed and launched by Hermann. Last year, they received their world and European premieres respectively at Annecy. “Bilby,” about a rabbit-bandicoot in the Australian outback learning to be a father, went on to win Siggraph’s Jury’s Choice Awards.
Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake will revise their roles as Poppy and Branch in “Trolls World Tour,” a sequel to the 2016 hit which scored Timberlake an Oscar nomination for his song “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” In the sequel, the trolls learn that they are only one of six tribes, each specialists in a different musical genre: Funk, country, techno, classical, pop and rock. The all-star cast of returning voice actors will be bolstered by the additions of Kelly Clarkson and Sam Rockwell.
“Trolls” co-director Walt Dohrn takes the reigns solo this time and will be in Annecy promoting the film, set to release in the spring of next year. Producer Gina Shay has also returned for the sequel.
Writer-director Jill Culton – who presented an in-progress take on “Abominable” for DWA and Pearl Animation at last year’s fest, producer Suzanne Buirgy and co-director Todd Wilderman will give a more detailed look at the Himalayan-set adventure scheduled to launch on Sept. 27. A China-U.S. co-production, the feature turns on Yi, a big city teenager who commits to helping a young yeti reunite with its family.
In TV, DreamWorks Animation will host an Annecy roundtable on June 13 headed by chief creative officer of TV Peter Gal, which includes a first look at the new “Fast & Furious” animated series by producer Tim Hedrick, a showcase for the studio’s popular Netflix series “She-ra and the Princesses of Power” by Noelle Stevenson; and an unnamed upcoming project from producer Rad Sechrist. The studio’s Amazon Prime Video Original “Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny” plays in this year’s Annecy TV competition as well.
To celebrate the success of the “How to Train Your Dragon” film trilogy, the festival has teamed with director Dean DeBlois, who shared world-first footage at last year’s Annecy edition, as well as artists who worked on the films, to create an exhibition of nearly 200 pieces of artwork, currently on display in Paris, which will make its way to Annecy for the festival.