Songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are at the top of their game thanks to their acclaimed works in the Tony-winning Dear Evan Hansen, the Oscar-winning La La Land, and The Greatest Showman. Their big success has now led them to the realm of animation, as Variety has reported that the duo has been assigned to write the songs for an upcoming animated musical project by Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios.
The film, currently under the working title Foster, is an original idea about a fanboy of a book series who seeks the author to express his dissatisfaction with the book’s ending. His actions then lead the two to be transported to a mystical world.
In terms of the crew, La La Land producer Marc Platt will reunite with Pasek and Paul to produce the picture, while Ferdinand co-writer Tim Federle will write the script. Directing duties will be handled by two Blue Sky veterans, which include storyboard artist Karen Disher (who was also the voice of Scratte in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs) and The Peanuts Movie director Steve Martino. 20th Century Fox has scheduled the film to be released on March 5, 2021.
Under the supervision of Fox chairman Stacey Snider, Foster is the latest addition to the studio’s ambitious plan to expand on their animation output, aiming to release at least one animated feature per year. Snider has assigned Fox Animation production executive Andrea Miloro and Ferdinand screenwriter Robert L. Baird to be co-presidents of Fox’s animation division. The two will oversee both LA-based Fox Animation and Connecticut-based Blue Sky Studios.
As part of Fox Animation’s plan, they will release the spy comedy Spies in Disguise in January 2019, an adaptation of the fantasy webcomic Nimona in February 2020, and Foster in March 2021, all three of which are Blue Sky productions. Additionally, Fox will collaborate with UK-based Locksmith Animation on a feature called Ron’s Gone Wrong, set for release in November 2020.
“We want to make movies that have complex and challenging themes, but also lean into the hilarious. They’re movies that have a bit of an attitude.” Braid stated about the studio’s ambition. Miloro also added that “Animation is one of the last bastions of original storytelling. We’re definitely on the hunt for original ideas.”
In regards to Foster, Braid said “We’ve tasked Pasek & Paul with doing a different kind of animated musical and to create something that’s never been done before. We want to make our characters sing in a different way.” Miloro desires the story to end up as “a heartfelt journey through this huge imagined world.”
It’s pretty exciting to hear about Fox’s plans in animation, as this sounds like a perfect chance for them and Blue Sky to stick out in the competition with a unique batch of animated features. Foster, especially in my view, looks to be in good hands with it’s original and intriguing premise, trustworthy crew, and an acclaimed songwriting duo who definitely know how to pull off some great songs. As long as the proposed Disney buyout of Fox doesn’t affect these films, then I’ll be greatly anticipating for what they will have in store.