2013 is shaping up to be a pretty big year for animated features, with three original animated films from DreamWorks Animation: the hotly anticipated sequels to the wonderful "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and slightly-less-wonderful "Despicable Me," and a new film from "Ice Age" mastermind Chris Wedge. Over the past couple of days we've also gotten brand new images from arguably the most exciting projects of next year – Pixar's college-set prequel "Monsters University;" Disney's newest princess endeavor "Frozen," and a pair of Studio Ghibli movies by their cofounders – Isao Takahata's "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" and Hayao Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises."
Entertainment Weekly debuted a pair of new images from June's "Monsters University," which sees our favorite monsters Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) in their college days. The accompanying EW story explains that the two monsters are initially antagonistic towards one another, continually one-upping each other with a series of pranks. (One of the photos contains the monsters-universe version of a goat and takes place at a fraternity house.) The images are pretty much what you'd expect – geeky monsters in the fraternity house photo and a fresh-faced Mike in the other one (we really want a MU hat now) – notable if only because how little design changes have been implemented. This could have been an opportunity for the artists to go nutty – this is, after all, a monster alternate universe – but besides a more slimmed down Sulley, they look virtually identical. Kind of a shame.
The prequel is directed by Dan Scanlon, who helmed the nifty "Mater and the Ghostlight" animated short that was on the "Cars" DVD, and hits theaters on June 21st. If you need your monsters-fix sooner though, you can hit up the three-dimensionalized "Monsters, Inc" which opens next week.
Next up is a single piece of design artwork for Disney's forthcoming animated feature, "Frozen," which is based on Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen" fairy tale and is busily being directed by the dynamic duo of Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. It's a striking image, showing princess Anna (Kristen Bell's character) and her love interest, the more rough-around-the-edges mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), walking across a frozen tundra. Pretty evocative stuff, actually. We've been hearing that this movie is going to be something else, so expect big things from this one. "Frozen" has the appropriately wintery opening date of November 27th, 2013.
And lastly we have some teaser posters, via FirstShowing, of the pair of Studio Ghibli movies that are opening (in Japan, at least) next year. The poster for "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" involves a "moon princess" and is really truly charming. We love the watercolor look and are excited about Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata helming another movie (he hasn't directed a feature since 1999's charming "My Neighbors the Yamadas"). Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises" has a similarly simple and wondrous teaser poster, involving a young girl painting on a windswept hill. The movie is at least partially based on the story of Japanese designer Jiro Horikoshi, who was responsible for developing the Zero Fighter, Japan's most prized World War II fighter plane. While both films might make a brief appearance in the United States for Oscar consideration, it's most likely they'll see a domestic release in 2014 or possibly even 2015. We'll be waiting.