Bad Bunny, Will Ferrell’s ‘Dropz’ Among New Paramount Animation Lineup

As the Annecy Animation Festival gets underway, Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation president Ramsey Naito has revealed development on a string of original films — including the Bad Bunny– and Will Ferrell-produced film “Dropz” and a “Swan Lake” adaptation — which will sit alongside franchises such as Transformers, Smurfs and SpongeBob.

Naito describes “Dropz” as “our E.T. about real kids in a super extraordinary situation.” Producers Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum and David Koplan have teamed up with Bad Bunny, who is on board as an exec producer. Rob Letterman is directing and co-writing the script with Ike Holter. Naito adds that the story is “infused with fashion” and will be a “cultural statement” for kids and families.

“Muttnik” is a sci-fi comedy about a sweet puppy turned “Han Solo-type space bandit,” who is forced to return to the family on Earth that abandoned him. Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Zareh Nalbandian are producing. Mike LeSieur, Chris Yost and Michael McCullers are writing the script; a director has not yet been named.

Another newly-revealed project is “Once Upon a Motorcycle Dude,” which Naito describes as a “fairytale disrupter” in which a kick-ass princess teams up with a post-apocalyptic motorcycle dude to save their kingdom. Karen Rosenfeld is producing.

The studio is also developing “Swan Lake,” a modern retelling of the classic fairy tale of the same name, which will be written by Kourtney Kang (“How I Met Your Mother”) and produced by Temple Hill.

Finally, Naito revealed development of “Yoke Samba,” which she called “our ‘The Last Starfighter’ and a destination movie to Brazil.” On board to direct is Leo Matsuda, a Disney Animation alum whose credits as a story artist include “Wreck-It Ralph” and who helmed the 2016 short “Inner Workings.” Mitch Watson (“Big Nate”) is writing and Stacey Lubliner will produce.

Previously announced projects in development include “Real Pigeons Fight Crime,” based on the comedic book series written by Andrew McDonald and illustrated by Ben Wood; and “Superworld,” based on the book series by Yarrow Cheney and Carrie Cheney (Yarrow Cheney will direct from a script that the pair will write.)

Says Naito: “We have an incredible slate coming out of franchise titles, and that has also allowed us to develop an original slate that’s really exciting.”

This evening at Annecy, Paramount Animation will preview a work in progress of its upcoming “Transformers One,” which Naito says is a stylized origin story set on Cybertron about how Optimus Prime (voiced by Chris Hemsworth) and Megatron (Brian Tyree Henry) went from friends to enemies. It’s directed by Josh Cooley, an Oscar winner for “Toy Story 4,” who is in attendance this week at Annecy. “Transformers One” is slated for a Sept. 20 release in the U.S.

Set for a Feb. 14 opening, “The Smurfs Movie” marks the return of the Smurfs franchise and aims to answers a big question: What is a Smurf? Naito says the filmmakers also aim to embrace the roots of Peyo’s Belgian comics and “interpret that world in 3D in a way that paid homage to him.”

Says Naito of the strategy, “We want to make movies that reach kids and families everywhere that have a real relatability, that feel broad and diverse.”

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