Sony Animation is doubling down on emojis and Smurfs.
At a recent event in Culver City, California, where Sony highlighted their upcoming animated slate, we learned a lot about "The Emoji Movie," "Smurfs: The Lost Village," a holiday movie featuring a donkey who follows the Star of Bethlehem, "Hotel Transylvania 3," and the upcoming movie written by "Hamilton" star Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Here is a quick recap: 1. Sir Patrick Stewart Will Voice a "Classy" Poop
Yup. Captain Picard himself, Sir Patrick Stewart, will lend his voice talents to "The Emoji Movie," playing fecal matter. Hey, he's wearing a bow tie!
Naturally, there will be plenty of poop jokes says director Tony Leondis. The director also says that "WTF?!" is the first reaction he gets from people when told there is an emoji movie happening.
2. Emojis Have Feelings, Too
The film was enthusiastically introduced by T.J. Miller, the voice of main character, Gene, who's supposed to be a "Meh" emoji like Mom (Jennifer Coolidge) and Dad (a brilliantly cast Steven Wright), but instead feels all the feels.
That threatens all the other emojis, who might get deleted if one of them malfunctions. Maya Rudolph voices Smiler (the very first emoji, whose job is to keep all the other emojis in line).
3. The Emojis Pull a "Wreck-It-Ralph' and Journey Outside Their App
In order to reset Gene to factory standards, he and BFF James Corden (High Five), go outside their app with hacker emoji Jailbreak (Ilana Glazer). They do so by surfing along Spotify songs, going inside Instagram vacation photos, and getting trapped in (naturally) YouTube cat videos.4. Joe Manganiello Was a Big Smurfs Fan
Manganiello, who voices the he-man Smurf, Hefty, admitted he was a big fan of the little blue guys as a kid -- he even had the stickers!
Meanwhile, costar Demi Lovato made everyone feel old by admitting she did her research on the Smurfs by "asking my parents."
5. Julia Roberts Gets to Be a Smurf
News alert: Smurfette is no longer the only female Smurf!
The blue heroine finds that she has Smurf sisters who are part of a lost Smurf village. Much like The Powerpuff Girls, there are three and one is named Blossom. That bubbly character is voiced by Ellie Kemper, while Ariel Winter is the more practical Lily and Michelle Rodriguez is the tougher Storm.
And is there someone for Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin)? He seems quite smitten with Smurfwillow (Julia Roberts), the female matriarch of these strange Smurfs. The rest of the all-star voice cast includes Jack McBrayer as Clumsy and Danny Pudi as Brainy. Rainn Wilson voices the evil Gargamel.
6. The Smurfs Will Return to Their Original Look
Director Kelly Asbury was determined that this new version of the beloved blue mushroom-dwellers would look more like the original drawings by Peyo, and not the more "realistic" Smurfs of recent films.
7. Say Hello to a Smurf That Eats... Tables? Because That's a Thing
Asbury also revealed that a Smurf who just can't stop eating wooden tables will appear. The character originated as a throwaway joke that made it into the film and quickly became everyone's favorite.
8. Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Tracy Morgan Will Play Camels in "The Star"
A version of The Greatest Story Ever Told from the point of view of the animals, "The Star" features Steven Yeun ("The Walking Dead") as Bo, a donkey inspired to follow the Star of Bethlehem.
He's joined by a sheep ("SNL" star Aidy Bryant) and Dave the Dove (Keegan-Michael Key). There's also Anthony Anderson as the paranoid goat, Zach, with Gina Rodriguez as Mary and Zachary Levi as Joseph.
Producer DeVon Franklin and director Timothy Reckart said nearly everyone they asked on their "dream cast" list said "yes." And, of course, choosing "Jane the Virgin" star Rodriguez as Mary was "obvious casting."
9. "Hotel Transylvania 3" Almost Didn't Happen
Director Genndy Tartakovskyadmitted that he wasn't sure he'd make a third film in the series, until a terrible cruise with his own family inspired him to make a threequel.
Onboard, Dracula (Adam Sandler) falls for captain Ericka (whose casting was not announced), a descendant of Van Helsing!
10. Get Ready for "Puppy"
Tartakovsky's new animated short, in which Grandpa Drac gets a monstrously oversized puppy for grandson Dennis, will debut in front of "The Emoji Movie" in August.
11. Set Sail for Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Vivo" in 2020
It's a long way away, but we do know that the musical, with songs penned by "Hamilton" star
Lin-Manuel Miranda, will take us on a journey from Havana to Miami, Sony Animation President Kristine Belson promised.
Academy Award-nominated director Kirk De Micco ("The Croods") will direct from a script by Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes ("In the Heights').
Hidden inside a smartphone, the bustling city of Textopolis is home to all emojis. Each emoji has only one facial expression, except for Gene, an exuberant emoji with multiple expressions. Determined to become "normal" like the other emojis, Gene enlists the help of his best friend Hi-5 and a notorious code breaker called Jailbreak. During their travels through the other apps, the three emojis discover a great danger that could threaten their phone's very existence. Read More