Canadian animation studio ToonBox Entertainment is one of the many new animation studios to break out into feature films. Unfortunately, their first feature film happened to be one of the worst animated films of 2014: The Nut Job.
But as fate would have it, the massive critical slamming did nothing to hinder its unexpected box-office success. The movie would debut to a $25.7 million opening weekend, becoming the highest grossing animated film released in January. It would then go on to amass $49 million in overseas markets for a worldwide total of $113.3 million. This was all after they had already announced a sequel to the film, in development for a January 15, 2016 release window.
Again, not very many people liked that film. That being said, we bring you a new report about another 2016 ToonBox film that may turn the tide of opinion (sort of).
Animation World Network recently reported that actresses Hilary Swank, Susan Surandon, and Jessica Biel have joined the cast of the animated sci-fi action comedy Spark. The developing voice cast is headed by Jace Norman (Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger), who plays the title character. This will also be the first animated film that Hilary Swank has lent her voice to.
Directed by Aaron Woodley and based on a screenplay by Woodley, Doug Hadders and Adam Rotstein, the film’s plot is described as follows:
The action-packed, humor and heart-filled Spark follows a teenage monkey Spark, voiced by Jace Norman (Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger), and his friends Vix, a battle-ready fox voiced by Jessica Biel, and Chunk, a tech-savvy warthog, as they embark on a mission to take back the besieged Planet Bana from the power-mad General Zhong. Spark’s dangerous odyssey leads him to the farthest reaches of the universe, and to the secret of his true identity, with characters like the comically forgetful nanny robot Bananny, voiced by Susan Sarandon, and the noble, self-sacrificing Queen, voiced by Hilary Swank, by his side.
Hong Kim and Jay HJ Ahn will serve as executive producers for ToonBox, Daniel Woo for Red Rover, and Mike Karz and Bill Bindley will produce for Gulfstream Pictures.
“We are buoyed by the success of The Nut Job, and look forward to introducing moviegoers to another exciting 3D-animated adventure,” adds Redrover CEO Hoe-Jin Ha. “We are delighted to have these prominent actresses ignite the voices in Spark.”
Aaron also gave his comments regarding the news. “We’re thrilled to have Susan, Hilary, and Jessica on board,” Spark director Aaron Woodley says. “They fit the characters perfectly and elevate the film to a whole new level.”
And if this comment is to be believed, the film is being worked on by the same crew that worked on The Nut Job: “We are happy The Nut Job team is together again,” Gulfstream Pictures partner Mike Karz says. “It’s great to work with all the exceptional talent at ToonBox.”
“This is a terrific cast and we’re excited that Hilary chose Spark as her first animated film,” adds Gulfstream Pictures partner Bill Bindley.
They also released not one but two posters for the film. You can check out the first one below:
And the second one (which has a more stylistic bent) here:
I won’t lie when I say that this film does have my curiosity. Of course, there will be low expectations all around (and rightfully so), but consider how Reel FX was able to turn around and give us The Book of Life after stepping out with Free Birds. ToonBox will certainly have a tougher hill to climb, as feature animation hasn’t had a great track record with Science Fiction (hopefully this year’s Ratchet and Clank and Home will be the exception). Hopefully this film can be for ToonBox what The Book of Life was for Reel FX: a true showcase of what they can be capable of when they are really firing on all cylinders.
On a final note: with the addition of Spark, 2016 looks more and more to be a banner year for ‘genre’ animated films. That in itself has my hopes up for this movie.
Production on the film is currently underway for a 2016 release (possibly sometime after The Nut Job 2).
What do you think? Will Spark change your opinion about ToonBox? Will it be enough to make up for The Nut Job?
Edited by: Kelly Conley