Disney, The Latest Animation News

New Disney Animation Films Announced: ‘Zootopia’, ‘Giants’, ‘Moana’ & More!

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Walt-Disney-Animation-StudiosBig, big news for Disney animation fans! Turns out Disney is working on some fabulous animated films due out in the next 5 years, including the Zootopia, Giants, a Polynesian film called Moana, and more!
Woah, woah, woah! This is huge! A few weeks ago, the WDAS release dates through 2018 were announced, but unfortunately the majority of the films were labeled as “Untitled.” According to Blue Sky Disney, this “untitled” business confused some people: the films weren’t really untitled, but rather simply unrevealed. Thanks to the team over there, they were given permission (by, I presume, someone from within Disney) to give a bit more information and tidbits about these Disney animated films. For convenience, here is a snapshot of WDAS’ six-film animated slate through 2018 (we’ve attached them to the known Disney release dates):

Frozen (November 27, 2013)
Big Hero 6 (November 7, 2014)
Zootopia (March 4, 2016)
Giants (November 23, 2016)
Moana (March 9, 2018)
Untitled Dean Wellin’s Animated Feature (November 21, 2018)
We already know a lot about Frozen and Big Hero 6. But let’s discuss what we know about each of the new films thus far:


Zootopia (March 4, 2016)

After Big Hero 6 is released, WDAS will take a year off before releasing two films in 2016. The first is  currently called Zootopia, which will be directed by one of Tangled‘s co-directors Byron Howard. This film will star Jason Bateman (who previously been penned to voicing a character in this film) who is supposed to voice a fox character. Unfortunately, that’s about all we know about Zootopia…for now.

To me, Zootopia sounds like a big city that is filled with animals. Or it could be a story about a zoo. But then again, that seems a bit too much like Madagascar and Into the Wild. Since Bateman is voicing a fox, obviously the main characters will be animals. Not sure whether they will just be simply talking animals or more anthropomorphic like the animals in Robin Hood. Either way, it sounds exciting! Disney sure does love its talking critters!

Giants (November 23, 2016)

Next comes Giants, which will be directed by the other Tangled co-director Nathan Greno. This film will be a new twist and take on fairy tales. It’s good to see that Disney will continue its fairy tale film legacy after Frozen. Fairy tales are so key to the company, its legacy, parks and future, it makes sense that it will continue producing films here and then in this direction. It makes sense that Giants possibly could be The Name Game, which was a Disney animation film reportedly based on the Rumpelstiltskin.

With a title like Giants and a fairy tale theme, one can only suppose (and rumors are flying) that this could be a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. We all know that Disney produced one of the best versions of the story many years earlier, Mickey and the Beanstalk, but I have a feeling that this will be much more epic in scale.

Moana (March 9, 2018)

Next comes the return of the famous Disney directing duo Ron Celements and John Musker with Moana. This film is a Polynesian story that follows island inhabitants and tiki idols “made famous the world over.” This very much gives an Enchanted Tiki Room vibe and could be a potential tie-in to that ride and the parks. The style of this film’s animation is unknown, but it will either be their first CGI film or a CGI/2D hybrid much like the short Paperman.

Honestly, this film has me the most excited! Lilo & Stitch gave us a teeny hint of Polynesian culture (however, that film was a bit more modern and western), but an entire film devoted to this culture? Yes! really love the idea of a tiki idol character or plot because it just all seems very Disney-esque to me and that this film will fit in perfectly with the rest of the Disney canon.

Untitled Dean Wellin’s Animated Feature (November 21, 2018)

Dean Wellin (writer on Tangled and animator on Princess and the Frog) will tackle the last film of the bunch which is a “teenage space race” that has a story very unusual for Disney Animation. Apparently, much like Big Hero 6, this film will help to change and mold the public’s perception about what to except from the Mouse House.

Even More Future Films? Feature Length Mickey Mouse Film? No Wreck-It Ralph 2 or King of the Elves?

After that, we don’t know much. Disney hasn’t released the schedule or release dates for films past 2018, but apparently even now there are still a few other project in development (one can only presume very early development).

Also, a few years ago longtime Disney animator and employee Burny Mattinson spoke about a feature-length Mickey Mouse movie that was in works at the studio. None of these titles seems to fit the bill. Personally, I think that a Mickey Mouse movie (instead of a direct-to-video film like the 3 Musketeers or Mickey’s Christmas Carrol) is definitely in order and would be a big step for the studio. If the timing is right, a Mickey film could be the 60th animated film released and would be a real treat. But then again, maybe the audience just isn’t there anymore for Mickey (then again, I have a hard time believing that considering how iconic and popular and his gang still are).

Within weeks of the release of Wreck-It Ralph, director Rich Moore and others started talking about creating a sequel known as Wreck-It Ralph 2. This would be the second official sequel to be released under the Walt Disney Animation banner (unless Disney chooses to release it under the DisneyToon Studios brand). Based on this list, it seems unlikely that we’ll see WIR 2 anytime soon.

And lastly, it seems that King of the Elves is nowhere to be found. And, honestly, I’m not surprised. The story was shelved in 2009, but much like Pixar’s Newt, fans just can’t seem to let the concept go (especially since concept art was released). It’s unfortunate that we’ll never see that film (at least during the next five years), but then again, there are probably very good reasons it was cancelled: it probably wasn’t that good. And do you want a crappy movie in your Disney canon, especially when the studio is on the upswing? I didn’t think so. I don’t think Disney does either.

Final Thoughts

Remember, this list and information came not from Disney itself, but a Disney-related blog. While we don’t doubt the veracity of the information or believe that they are lying, we still have to take all this with a grain of salt. The majority of the films, plots and directors seem to match up well with previous stories and news that have been reported. But until an official Disney press release regarding the matter is released, it’s best to ere on the side of caution.

Apparently Disney is trying to push the envelope in its style and content, for some of its film. It seems to be striking a nice balance between more traditional (fairy tale-based) films and those that are more progressive. And the studio seems to be on track to releasing possible two animated films per year, allowing it to catch up to other big players in the industry like DreamWorks. Hopefully the animation and story quality will continue to be top notch, but no doubt it will be with John Lasseter at the helm.

For which new Disney Animation film are you most excited?

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  • Alex

    Giants and Moana look really appealing to me (what can I say, I’m a sucker for the fairy tales), but I also think the teenage space race movie could be really fun. I’m excited :).

  • Blake Taylor

    Woah! I think I’m most excited for Giants or Moana – they seem to bring some really intriguing things to the table in terms of story possibilities and artistic style. It will be interesting to see how many will be musicals.

    I was hoping the November 2018 film would be the Mickey Mouse feature – it would align perfectly with Mickey’s 90th birthday!! I just hope it is still happening… that would be so awesome. The studio who put him on the map finally doing a full-length feature film with their very first character in the lead. That will be one for the history books.

    • Alex

      That’s an awesome idea for the Mickey movie. That would be AMAZING!

  • Gary Wright

    So interesting! I’m hoping either “Giants” or “Moana” is hand drawn, or at least 2D/CGI hybrid. Great to see another good ol’ fairytale in the works, along with some pretty cool new concepts.

    I agree Morgan, a Mickey Mouse movie would be PERFECT as the 60th Animated Feature!

    • Alex

      I totally agree with the hand drawn/hybrid thing. Man, would I love to see another hand drawn fairy tale, or even something resembling it.

      • Gary Wright

        The thing is, Disney knows that the public might not accept a traditional hand drawn film, especially after what happened with Princess & the Frog and Winnie the Pooh. (If you ask me, those movies failed because of Disney’s own poor marketing.)

        But Disney should push the envelope and use the new hybrid technology! If anyone can pull off innovation, it’s Disney!

        • Alex

          I agree completely. I would really love to see them pushing the new technology as much as they can. Honestly, with the aid of computers, it seems like the sky is the limit for animation these days. I can already see the beginnings with Paperman, but I’m just waiting for the step that will change everything again. After all, taking the road not taken can make all the difference :).

    • Jumbojump

      I know i’m the minority on this one, but i’m not happy with any of the films lined up. Zootopia seems like a rehashed Madagascar, we already have a Jack and the Beanstalk movie, so an adaptation is not new. Moana seems like another Lilo and Stitch. I was expecting to see more fairytale adaptations like Goose girl, The Brave Tin Soldier or Princess and the Pea with a spanish princess, as this is what disney does best. Or something with dragons and swords maybe. Ugh, I know I sound like a sour puss but come on, disney, leave that stuff to dreamworks and pixar.

  • Kay

    I personally think Giants will be a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. ‘Cause you know, there’s a giant in that story.

    And Moana definitely sounds like my cup of tea. I would love to see that 2D/ CG hybrid in a full movie.

    • Alex

      I was circling the same idea of Jack and the beanstalk. It just seems like such a perfect tale for Disney. One way or another, I think Disney will adapt something for this movie, seeming that none of the others are adaptations.

  • james rath

    Where’s King Of The Elves?

  • chrissypants

    OMG!! Moana sounds wonderful!! And a polynesian tale!! Ahh!

    But yes, where is King of the Elves?! I’ve been waiting for that movie since I saw the concept art years ago!

  • Agam720

    Mickey is long overdue for a feature length film. In fact, I would love to see them bring back more of the original crew in a big way. When was the last time we saw Donald Duck get some love? A Goofy Movie was fantastic, and I think it’s time to bring the old dog back. It would be great if they all made it into the Mickey movie.

    This has me so excited. I would love for my daughter to fall in love with these characters as I have. It would make a future trip to Disneyland that much more special.

  • Phantom R

    Honestly a little disappointed on the thought of the Mickey film not happening at all. Go ahead and diss me, but I’m somewhat relieved on the thought of Wreck-it Ralph 2 not happening anytime soon. It would feel too rushed.

  • fashionistabookworm

    This seems great! But I’m kinda disappointed, like many Tangled fans, that there’s no talk whatsoever about a Tangled 2.

    • chrissypants

      I love Tangled, but I’d rather they do original stories. Not sequels.

  • Steven

    I will cry of joy…then sing like a Disney Princess…then die happy if Newt came back into production and the long awaited Mickey Mouse feature film came to fruition. I want these (in Simba roar) NEEOOWWWW!!!

  • Aveeva

    Zootopia and Moana will likely be pushed forward into 2015 and 2017 respectively.

  • Braden

    Excited for Giants and Moana! I agree that the CGI Disney fairytale seems really cool, and I hope after Frozen and Giants they keep at it! (If Giants is CGI which I hope it is!). Moana sound right up Ron and Johns alley! They usually do other cultures and I can’t wait to see what they do with the film! Zootopia sounds like Bolt meets the Wild, so i’m not too excited for that! I was really hoping for King of the Elves and the Rumplestitskin movie, but maybe Rumplestitskin isn’t a good story for today’s audiences, and like you said Morgan, King of the Elves wouldn only be canceled if it wasn’t that good. Maybe they can bring it back in a new way like they did for Tangled and Frozen. Overall i’m excited! I wish there was a little more fairytales in here and literature based things but it is nice to see Disney try something new! As long as we get fairytales and folklore every 2-5 years then i’ll be happy!

  • james rath

    Now Pixar just needs to release the names of their untitled films.

  • Amanda Buck

    Giants sounds like a “my side of the story” sort of thing. A telling of fairytales from the giant’s POV, and how they’re not the villains at all… they’re just different. Kind of like those recent Once Upon A Time episodes.

  • streakedlights

    If Giants or Moana ends up being traditionally animated, I think I’d cry from happiness. I’m really excited for Moana; It’s great to see Disney work with different cultures (And it’s been a while since they had a POC as a major character) and I can’t even imagine how beautiful it’s gonna turn out.

    By the way, if they ever make a Wreck-it-Ralph 2, it won’t be Disney’s first official sequel. Are you forgetting Rescuers Down Under? (Don’t worry, most people do!)

    • DOH! How did I forget Rescuers Down Under? -_- “Do I feel sheepish.”

      I’ll update the post with the correct info!

  • James Lutz

    After looking at the schedule, at first I was a little mad (and to an extent I still am) that there would be nothing from the Animation Studio during 2015 or 2017. But when you look at the Disney Line-up for those years…

    – The Avengers 2 (Marvel) 5/1/15
    – Inside Out (Pixar) 6/19/15
    – Star Wars Episode VII (Lucasfilm) Summer
    – Ant-Man (Marvel) 11/6/15
    – Finding Dory (Pixar) 11/25/15

    – Unannounced film (Marvel) 5/5/17
    – Unannounced film (Pixar) 6/16/17
    – Star Wars Episode VIII (Lucasfilm) Summer?
    – Unannounced film (Marvel) ???
    – Unannounced film (Pixar) 11/22/17

    They’re going to be very busy! Sorry to say that I’m starting to lose interest in Frozen, but will still go see it. For some reason I’m super HYPED for Big Hero 6.

    • Armond

      I’m super excited for Big Hero 6 too! Finally Disney Animation is using its ownership of Marvel to its advantage. Seems like a great blend of all things Disney: great animation, exploring other cultures, Marvel superheros, stylistic action and adventure, and reinvention of characters. I can only picture it going well.

  • Brandon Kelly

    I read a while back (This was after the release of The Princess and the Frog and Tangled was coming soon) that Disney was going to make The Snow Queen and Jack and the Beanstalk but then both projects got shelved. Once Tangled became a hit and audiences wanted Disney to make more fairy tales, Disney brought back The Snow Queen and now we have Frozen coming. So I think Giants will be the revival of the Jack and the Beanstalk project. Also, I think Disney shelved Jack and the Beanstalk for another reason too. Jack and the Giant Slayer was to be released and Disney did not want to rip off that film. But since the film did poorly and very few remember it, Disney has it’s chance now. In terms of Zootopia, it sounds like Disney wants to now adapt animal jungle stories in CGI. Since great animal jungle characters became popular with The Jungle Book, The Lion King and Tarzan.

  • Brandon Kelly

    Oh by the way, was there suppose to be a Mickey and Roger Rabbit movie coming?

    • Clark

      I don’t think Roger Rabbit was apart of Disney’s main animated studio. Plus, it was released under Touchstone but yeah I agree there should be Roger Rabbit 2.

      • Philip

        Touchstone is a Disney subsidiary, so therefore Roger IS Disney.

        • Clark

          But it’s not Disney canon. It’s apart of Disney’s library of films, but since it wasn’t made by their in-house animation studio, it doesn’t count.

  • Joshua K.

    If Disney ever makes a Mickey’s first movie, having it done in CGI rather than traditional animation would feel disrespectful.

    • Matt Norcross

      I personally would like to see a combination of both. I could imagine a CGI prologue of Walt Disney telling a young boy (who later turns out to be the son of an animator who works at the studio) a story about how Mickey Mouse met all his friends, and then we finally cut into the traditionally animated world of Mickey and Pals.

  • Styrole

    Not watchimg a film called Giants, especially after reading an article that mentioned Madagascar. Don’t want a movie that reminds me of Lilo and Stitch. King of the Elves sounded awful…Zootopia is the one here that sounds good. I wanted to see Frozen buyr I’d be wishing Olaf were dead the whole time. I’m guessing he’s supposed to be the ‘Mushu’ of Frozen, but his design is awful. And Sven is basically Maximus in reindeer form.
    And as for a teenage space race…thar is only outclassed in awfulness by Big Hero 6. First Marvel characters invade Phineas and Ferb, and now they’re taking over Disney.
    At least make Zootopia good. The others just don’t meet my interest. And this is from a studio whose films I’ve enjoyed for over twenty-five years.

  • Anonymous

    I hope that “The Stooge” starring Mickey Mouse and Roger Rabbit will find its way onto the release schedule sooner than later.

  • Mixxie

    Fun fact: Tiki culture and the “enchanted tiki room” have little if anything to do with Polynesian culture.

  • CJ

    Great article – thanks for the information on the upcoming films. Just one correction though (no big deal), Mickey’s Christmas Carol was not a direct to video release. It was actually released in 1983 along with a reissue of The Rescuers.

  • danny

    Here’s one thing I’m worried about Manoa…Is the Polynesian aspect. Because polynesia isn’t just one ethnic group it is made up of more then a dozen all share similar cultural aspects but at the same time slightly different. There are Tahitians, Maori, Samoans etc. All I can say is that Disney better damn well do their research thoroughly and tread lightly on how they treat the demi-god portion/ tikis. And please for the love of all things good please do NOT give Manoa a love interest. Because a female lead doesn’t need to be defined by having a love interest.

  • Marier Villarreal

    I’m escited for Moana and Zootopia as I like the Polynesian culture and Zootopia reminds of the Furry Fandom, which is awesome! 🙂

  • Moana Mamea

    yeeaaahhhh im excited to actually watch this film MOANA because as so my name is moana and i am SAMOAN and from the island im excited to see this movie because my name is hardly known in school or anywhere in the unites states bt nt just me their other people name moana out their and i know their excited to see whats the story their going to tell abut this name even though im 20 now lol its not going to come out until im 25 bt still super excited to see it

  • Gamer101

    Since this article was written, we know a lot more about these new films.

    Zootopia is set in a city run by talking anthropomorphic animals.

    Giants is based on ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.

    Moana centers around the title character who tries to rescue her family from an as of yet unknown danger.

    Looking forward to Giants and Moana. Zootopia, not so much.

  • The Pug Lover

    I neither like Frozen because I miss traditional animation all because a former Simpsons writer turned a cartoon into an evil live action/CGI movie, which it thinks it’s hilarious, but it’s not, it’s a total disaster that spawned a sequel, beating The Princess and the Frog, causing two “princess” movies to change the name, nor Wreck-It Ralph because video game villains can not get out of video games and become heroes. (I prefer Despicable Me and Megamind) In fact, I hope for two traditionally hand drawn films, The Stooge and Hullaballoo.