Sony Unveils Plans for Animated 'Spider-Man' and 'Emojimovie: Express Yourself'

Courtesy of SPA
Also: Genndy Tartakovsky is returning to helm the company’s 'Hotel Transylvania 3.'

Bob Persichetti, the animator who served as head of story for Puss in Boots and The Little Prince, will direct Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man animated movie, while Genndy Tartakovsky is returning to helm the company’s Hotel Transylvania 3.

At the same time, SPA is moving into television production and will produce a new Ghostbusters television series titled Ghostbuster: Ecto Force.

The moves are part of major ramping up of SPA that is planning on releasing five movies through 2018 while also producing three TV series (including the Ghostbusters show) and one direct-to-video.

The new slate is the work of Kristine Belson, who took over the top spot of SPA in January 2015.

“We are meaningfully stepping up our level of production, while creating an environment that fosters the best talent,” Belson said Monday in a statement. “Our goal is to enlarge our presence in the animation landscape with a uniquely diverse slate, and our strategy to get there is to let artists drive the movies creatively.”

Perhaps the most anticipated movie on SPA's slate is the animated Spider-Man, set for release on Dec. 21, 2018. The project has a script by Phil Lord, half the Lego Movie team that also includes partner Chris Miller. The two also are producing with Avi Arad and Amy Pascal.

The company was mum on rumors that the new film will focus on Miles Morales, the character that is half-black and half-Hispanic who was introduced several years ago as a new Spider-Man.

Tartakovsky helmed the first two installments of the Transylvania series, which proved hits with audiences and gave SPA a franchise to call its own.

“I thought I was done exploring the world of Hotel Transylvania after the first two films, but while I was away from the franchise finishing my TV show Samurai Jack, an idea sparked that I got really excited about and made it irresistible to return and helm myself this third adventure,” said Tartakovsky.

Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg are returning as the respective voices of Dracula, his vampire daughter Mavis and her human husband Johnny in a tale written by Michael McCullers (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me).

First up on the slate, however, is Smurfs: The Lost Village, the first fully animated take on the Peyo-created creatures. (The other Smurfs movies were CGI/live-action hybrids.) Kelly Asbury is directing the feature that is scheduled to be released April 7, 2017, and has Demi Lovato voicing Smurfette.

Next will come Emojimovie: Express Yourself, targeting an August 2017 release, followed by The Star, formerly titled The Lamb. The latter is a faith-based story about “a small but brave donkey and his animal friends [who] become the unsung heroes of the greatest story ever told, the first Christmas.” DeVon Franklin, a producer who focuses on faith-based movies, as well as Lisa Henson and Brian Henson are executive producing. 

SPA’s television slate includes a Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs series and a Hotel Transylvania series, produced in partnership with Canada’s animation powerhouse Nelvana, focusing on the teenage years of Dracula’s daughter Mavis and her friends. It will air on the Disney Channel worldwide sometime in 2017.

Ecto Force is part of Sony’s Ghostbusters cinematic universe and an expansion of the property into various realms following the rollout of this summer’s all-female reboot of the original 1984 pic. Described as “younger-skewing,” the show will focus on “a new generation of Ghostbusters in the year 2050 who capture ghosts around the world with help from local teams — and some very cool gear!” It is targeting an early 2018 debut.