This is a list of unmade and unreleased animated projects by Universal Pictures. Some of these projects were, or still are, in development limbo. These also include the co-productions Universal collaborated with in the past (i.e. Amblimation, Walter Lantz Productions, Universal Animation Studios, Illumination, and DreamWorks Animation) as well as sequels to their franchises.

1940s

Series Title Description
Feature film Aladdin and His Lamp In 1941, after hearing the success of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Universal's first animation studio Walter Lantz Productions was given $750,000 to produce their first feature film called Aladdin and His Lamp, which was based on the famous tales of Aladdin. It was set to star the voices of comedy duo Abbott and Costello, and Frank Churchill was set to compose the musical score. However, Walter Lantz cancelled the project in light of the cut-off of the overseas market and the financial risk that came shortly after the Fleischer Studios' film Mr. Bug Goes to Town failed at the box office.[1][2]

1990s

1991

Series Title Description
Shrek Shrek In 1991, Steven Spielberg bought the rights to William Steig's 1990 children's book Shrek!. Spielberg originally envisioned his adaptation as a traditional animated film from Amblin Entertainment, with Bill Murray as the voice of the titular character and Steve Martin as the voice of Donkey. Despite co-founding DreamWorks Animation—the eventual owner of the Shrek franchise—in 1994, Spielberg moved on to other projects. This movie is starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz when the film was completed in 2001.[3][4]
Feature film and television series The Adventures of MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob Following the release of the album of the same name, Virgin Music and Universal Pictures briefly discussed producing a live-action/animation feature film featuring MC Skat Kat, but nothing ever materialized. Singer Paula Abdul had even pitched the idea of a live-action/animation series starring Skat Kat to air on Fox Kids, but it failed to materialize.[5]

1993

Series Title Description
Jurassic Park Escape from Jurassic Park In June 1993, after the theatrical release of Jurassic Park, spokesmen for Amblin and MCA confirmed that an animated series based on the film was in development and awaiting Steven Spielberg's final approval.[6] The series, titled Escape from Jurassic Park,[7] would have consisted of 23 episodes for its first season. The series would have centered on John Hammond's attempts to finish Jurassic Park and open it to the public, while InGen's corporate rival Biosyn is simultaneously planning to open their own dinosaur theme park in Brazil, which ultimately ends with their dinosaurs escaping into the jungles.[8][9][10]

1996

Series Title Description
Feature film Cats In October 1996, it was announced that an animated adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats was in development at Amblimation. Phil Nibbelink and Dick Zondag were attached to direct while Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow were brought on to rework an earlier script from Tom Stoppard.,[11] The film was turned into the critical and commercial failure version of the same name with Tom Hooper directing and Steven Spielberg executing producing the film.
Casper the Friendly Ghost Casper 2 Following the release of Casper, Simon Wells co-wrote a screenplay for Casper 2, in which he was set to direct. However, in July 2000, it was reported that Universal Pictures had cancelled the sequel due to the disappointing sales from the direct-to-video Casper films and the hesitation of Christina Ricci.[12][13]
Scooby-Doo Scooby-Doo The film was planned to be an origin story of Scooby, Shaggy and the Mystery Inc. gang. It was written by Craig Titley who later went on to write the 2002 film of the same name. The film was scrapped when Warner Bros. bought the rights to Hanna-Barbera by buying Turner in 1996. The script for this version of the film was leaked in 2014.[14][better source needed]

1997

Series Title Description
Alvin and the Chipmunks Alvin and the Chipmunks In June 1997, director Robert Zemeckis was slated to direct a live-action adaptation of Alvin and the Chipmunks.[15] However, in September 2000, the estate of Ross Bagdasarian Sr. filed suit against Universal Pictures for which development on the film was halted.[16] A live-action/CGI film was ultimately released by 20th Century Fox in 2007.
Feature film Just So Stories This Amblimation Project for Amblimation and Universal back in the 90's was Just So Stories based on the book by Rudyard Kipling. Back in Wales, UK, Universal and Amblimation did the work on the finished 3 movies such as An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991), We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993), and Balto (1995) but never released Just So Stories and the musical animated adaptation of Cats. So Amblimation was gone in 1997 as anyone moved on to DreamWorks. [17] The other animation studios of Just So Stories are Soyuzmultfilm, Bevanfield Films, Les Films de l'Arlequin and Je Suis Bien Content.
Jurassic Park Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect Part three of the four-part comic adaptation of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, published by Topps Comics in July 1997, confirmed to readers that a cartoon series based on the film was in development.[18][19] In November 1997, it was reported that the cartoon would be accompanied by Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect, a series of dinosaur toys produced by Kenner and based on a premise that scientists had created dinosaur hybrids consisting of DNA from different creatures.[20][21] The new toys were based on the upcoming cartoon.[20] That month, it was also reported that the cartoon could be ready by March 1998, as a mid-season replacement.[20] The Chaos Effect toyline was released in June 1998,[21] but the animated series was never produced, for unknown reasons.[22]

1998

Series Title Description
Feature film Frankenstein In October 1998, Universal Pictures and Industrial Light & Magic jointly announced they were producing a computer-animated film featuring Frankenstein. S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock were attached to write the script under the condition that it would not be a family-oriented film. Tom Bertino was attached to direct the film. It was intended to be released by Halloween 2000.[23][24][25]

2000s

2001

Series Title Description
Feature film Where the Wild Things Are Universal acquired rights to the book's adaptation in 2001 and initially attempted to develop a computer-animated adaptation with Disney animator Eric Goldberg, but in 2003 the CGI concept was replaced with a live-action one, and Goldberg was replaced with Spike Jonze.[26] The film was originally set for release from Universal, and a teaser of the film was attached to the studio's 2000 adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.[27] Disagreements between Universal and Sendak over Jonze's approach to the story led to a turnaround arrangement where the film's production was transferred to Warner Bros.[28]

2007

Series Title Description
Feature film The Legend of Spyro 3D On September 25, 2007, it was announced that the film rights for Spyro the Dragon had been purchased by The Animation Picture Company.[29] Daniel and Steven Altiere wrote the script, which was going to be based on the recently released The Legend of Spyro trilogy. The film was going to be titled The Legend of Spyro 3D and was planned to be made from Los Angeles, California, with animation by a South Korean Animation studio, Wonderworld Studios, alongside Universal Animation Studios. The film was planned to be produced by John Davis, Dan Chuba, Mark A.Z. Dippé, Brian Manis and Ash Shah, and distributed and advertised by Velvet Octopus along with Universal Studios. Mark Dippe was going to direct the film, which would've made it the first theatrical film Dippe directed since Spawn. This film was originally planned for release in theaters on Christmas 2009 in the United States and Canada, but it was delayed to April 10, 2010 for its North American release. It was later confirmed by Daniel Altiere himself that the movie had been officially cancelled due to decisions made by Activision to go in a different direction,[30] which was later revealed in the form of Skylanders.

2009

Series Title Description
Feature film Flanimals On April 28, 2009, Variety reported that a 3-D, computer-animated feature film based on the Flanimals book series was in production at Illumination. Series creator Ricky Gervais was set to be the executive producer and also lend his voice to the lead character, while The Simpsons writer Matt Selman wrote the script.[31] however it has been removed from the development schedule.[32]
Where's Waldo? Where's Waldo? In June 2009, it was announced that Universal and Illumination Entertainment had acquired the rights to turn Where's Waldo? into a live-action film, produced by Chris Meledandri with Classic Media's (now DreamWorks Classics) as executive producer Eric Ellenbogen,[33] but the project was cancelled.[34]
Feature film Untitled Cryptozoology film In December 2009, it was announced that Illumination Entertainment was producing an animated film based on a pitch by actor-comedian Jack Black and Jason Micallef on cryptozoology, which is the study of legendary creatures whose existence has never been confirmed (i.e. the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot). Black intended to produce the film alongside Ben Cooley and Chris Meledandri through his production company Electric Dynamite. Additionally, Black did not intend to provide a voice for the characters as he did with DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda.[35]

2010s

2010

Series Title Description
Curious George Curious George In July 2010, are announced that Illumination are developing a live-action animated film based on Curious George, with Larry Stuckey writing the script,[36] but in November 2015 are reported that the film was cancelled.[37]
Feature film Pluto In October 2010, Illumination Entertainment and Tezuka Productions jointly announced that they were developing a live-action/computer-animated film of the Japanese manga series Pluto.[38]
The Addams Family The Addams Family In 2010, it was announced that Universal and Illumination had acquired the underlying rights to the Addams Family drawings.[39] The film was planned to be a stop-motion animated film based on Charles Addams's original drawings. Tim Burton was set to co-write and co-produce the film, with a possibility to direct.[40] In July 2013, it was reported that the film was cancelled; had been made, this would have been Illumination's first stop-motion animated film.[41] Eventually, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picked up rights to the film as a computer-animated movie scheduled for 2019, with Sausage Party directors Greg Tiernan and former DreamWorks Animation staff member Conrad Vernon to direct.[42] Ironically, Universal handled the international distribution rights for the film.

2011

Series Title Description
Feature film Uglydolls In May 2011, it was announced that Illumination had acquired the rights to Uglydolls to make an animated feature film.[43] Four years later, in 2015, Variety reported that an animated film based on Uglydolls would be the first family and animation project produced by STXfilms;[44] it was released in May 2019.[45]
Woody Woodpecker Woody Woodpecker In November 2011, Universal and Illumination planned a Woody Woodpecker feature film. John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky (King of the Hill) were in talks to develop a story,[46] but in July 2013, Illumination canceled the project.[47] The film was eventually released as a live-action/CGI hybrid film in 2017.

2012

Series Title Description
Feature film The Cat in the Hat In March 2012, following the financial success of The Lorax, the animated film adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book of the same name, Universal and Illumination announced plans to produce a computer-animated adaptation of the book.[48] Rob Lieber was set to write the script, with Chris Meledandri as producer, and Audrey Geisel as the executive producer. However, the project never came into fruition.[49] On January 24, 2018, it was announced that Warner Animation Group was in development of an animated Cat in the Hat film as part of a creative partnership with Seuss Enterprises.[50]
Feature film Clifford the Big Red Dog In May 2012, it was reported that Universal and Illumination would make a live-action/animated feature film based on the Clifford the Big Red Dog book series. Matt Lopez had been hired to write the script, while Chris Meledandri and Deborah Forte would produce the film.[51] In July 2013, it was reported that Illumination had dropped the project.[52] As of 2018, Paramount Pictures is now developing the film, which was originally scheduled for a September 17, 2021 release date, but was delayed due to a rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19. [53][54][55]

2015

Series Title Description
Feature film Johnny Express In 2015, Universal and Illumination planned to adapt the South Korean CGI animated short Johnny Express into a feature-length animated film.[56][57]

See also

References

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  2. ^ McCracken, Harry (1998). "The Ones that Didn't Make it". Animato!. No. 39. www.harrymccracken.com. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  3. ^ Cormier, Roger (22 March 2016). "15 Giant Facts About Shrek". Mental Floss. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  4. ^ Denninger, Lindsay (18 May 2016). "5 Actors Almost Cast In 'Shrek,' Because Mike Myers Wasn't Supposed To Voice The Ogre". Bustle. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Adventures of MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob". paula-abdul.net. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  6. ^ "'Jurassic' series?". The San Bernardino Sun. June 17, 1993. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
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