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 the studio collaborated with in the past (i.e. Amblimation, Walter Lantz Productions, Universal Animation Studios, Illumination Entertainment, and DreamWorks Animation) as well as sequels to their franchises.



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]



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 Amblimation, 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 due to the poor reviews and sales of the album.[5]


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]


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]


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 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, Shrek! and the animated musical adaptation of Cats. Amblimation closed its doors in 1997 and everyone involved moved on to DreamWorks.[17] The other animation studios of Just So Stories are Soyuzmultfilm, Marble Arch/Interama/Strengholt Films, 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]


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]



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]


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.


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]



Series Title Description
Curious George Curious George In July 2010, it was 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 it was 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.


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] However, the project never came into fruition. 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.


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] In 2016, Paramount Pictures was reported to be developing the film, which eventually released on November 10, 2021, following a number of delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[53][54][55]


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


  1. ^ Kanfer, Stefan (1997). Serious Business: The Art And Commerce Of Animation In America From Betty Boop To Toy Story. Scribner. p. 113. ISBN 978-0684800790.
  2. ^ McCracken, Harry (1998). "The Ones that Didn't Make it". Animato!. No. 39. 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". Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  6. ^ "'Jurassic' series?". The San Bernardino Sun. June 17, 1993. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  7. ^ Pugh, Chris (June 1, 2016). "Escape from Jurassic Park – 1993 animated series detailed". Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  8. ^ Squires, John (December 6, 2016). "Art and Story Details from Cancelled 'Jurassic Park' Animated Series Finally Surface". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  9. ^ Scott, Ryan (December 6, 2016). "Canceled Jurassic Park Animated Series Full Season Details Revealed". MovieWeb. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  10. ^ Pugh, Chris (December 5, 2016). "The Entire First Season of the Cancelled Jurassic Park Television Series Revealed (Exclusive)". Jurassic Outpost. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  11. ^ Errico, Maurice (October 1, 1996). ""Cats" Will be a Movie--and a Cartoon". E! Online. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  12. ^ Duke, Paul (July 12, 2000). "Wells sets 'Time' with WB, D'Works". Variety. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  13. ^ Mink, Sammy (March 10, 2014). "{TB EXCLUSIVE} CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST SET TO FLY BACK INTO PRODUCTION!". The Tracking Board. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  14. ^ YouTube, a Google company. YouTube.
  15. ^ Beck, Marilyn; Jenel Smith, Stacy (June 19, 1997). "Spielberg Ready to Work with Robert Zemeckis" (Subscription required). Santa Maria Times. Retrieved November 10, 2018 – via
  16. ^ "Family of Chipmunks' Originator Files Suit Against Universal Studios". Los Angeles Times. Reuters. September 12, 2000. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  17. ^ Studios1993, Rowserlot (October 2, 2020). "Amblimation's lost Project Just So Stories". DeviantArt. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  18. ^ Finkelstein, Dan (July 20, 1997). "What's New". Dan's The Lost World Page. Archived from the original on June 3, 2000.
  19. ^ Finkelstein, Dan (July 22, 1997). "What's New". Dan's The Lost World Page. Archived from the original on June 3, 2000.
  20. ^ a b c Finkelstein, Dan (November 11, 1997). "Chaos Effect". Dan's The Lost World Page. Archived from the original on September 9, 1999.
  21. ^ a b "Chaos Effect". Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  22. ^ "Interview With Tim Bradley". March 1, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  23. ^ "Universal Studios Making Digital Frankenstein". Wired. April 2, 1998. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  24. ^ Petrikin, Chris (October 2, 1998). "U, ILM plan Frankenstein". Variety. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  25. ^ Cohen, Karen (August 1, 1999). "The Animated Side of Star Wars". Animation World Network. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  26. ^ Etherington, Daniel. "Where The Wild Things Are Preview". Channel 4. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
  27. ^ Mark Hooper (2008-02-25). "Catch of the day: Where the Wild Things Are". Guardian Film Blog. London. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  28. ^ Snyder, Gabriel (2006-01-08). "'Wild' ride for Warner". Variety. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  29. ^ Graser, Marc (25 September 2007). "Spyro to fire up theaters". Variety. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  30. ^ "Spyro Movie No More". darkSpyro. 11 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
  31. ^ Fleming, Michael (28 April 2009). "Gervais' 'Flanimals' heads to bigscreen". Variety. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  32. ^ Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  33. ^ Fleming, Michael (2009-06-01). "'Waldo' finds his way to the bigscreen". Variety. Retrieved 2020-06-05.
  34. ^ Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2013. At the same time, Illumination has scrapped a number of planned movie ideas. “Waldo” and a Tim Burton-helmed, stop-motion “The Addams Family” are dead. The company abandoned a Woody Woodpecker pic, and couldn’t crack “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”
  35. ^ Fleming, Michael (December 6, 2009). "Jack Black animates film pitch". Variety. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  36. ^ "With 'Curious George,' Illumination looks to make more animation mischief". LA Times Blogs - 24 Frames. 2010-07-30. Retrieved 2020-06-05.
  37. ^ Debruge, Peter (2015-11-17). "'Minions' and Illumination Create a Blockbuster Animation Unit for Universal". Variety. Retrieved 2020-06-05.
  38. ^ "Universal, Illumination Get Film Rights for Urasawa's Pluto Manga" (Press release). Universal City, California: Universal Pictures. Anime News Network. October 20, 2010.
  39. ^ Mike Fleming (March 18, 2010). "Tim Burton's Next 3D Animated Film? Da Da Da Da, Snap Snap: 'The Addams Family'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  40. ^ Fleming, Mike (August 19, 2010). "Tim Burton Reunites With 'Ed Wood' Scribes For 'Addams Family' And 'Big Eyes'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
  41. ^ Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2013. At the same time, Illumination has scrapped a number of planned movie ideas. "Waldo" and a Tim Burton-helmed, stop-motion "The Addams Family" are dead. The company abandoned a Woody Woodpecker pic, and couldn't crack "Clifford the Big Red Dog."
  42. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 12, 2017). "'Sausage Party's' Conrad Vernon to Direct Animated 'Addams Family' Movie". Variety Magazine. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  43. ^ Fleming, Mike (May 26, 2011). "Chris Meledandri's Illumination To Turn Uglydoll Into Animated Film". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  44. ^ Lang, Brent (May 28, 2015). "STX Entertainment Plans Uglydoll Film, Launches Family Division (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  45. ^ Khatchatourian, Maane (March 28, 2017). "Robert Rodriguez to Direct 'Ugly Dolls' Animated Film for STX". Variety. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  46. ^ Kit, Borys (November 16, 2011). "Woody Woodpecker Movie in Development at Universal, Illumination (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  47. ^ Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  48. ^ Minovitz, Ethan (March 18, 2012). "The Cat In The Hat comes back as animated feature". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on December 3, 2012. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  49. ^ Kit, Borys (January 24, 2018). "New 'Cat in the Hat' Movie in the Works From Warner Bros". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  50. ^ "'The Cat in the Hat' Animated Movie to Kick Off Dr Seuss Franchise". TheWrap. 24 January 2018. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  51. ^ Kit, Borys (May 8, 2012). "Illumination and Universal Adapting 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  52. ^ Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2013. At the same time, Illumination has scrapped a number of planned movie ideas. Waldo and a Tim Burton-helmed, stop-motion The Addams Family are dead. The company abandoned a Woody Woodpecker pic, and couldn't crack Clifford the Big Red Dog.
  53. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (June 30, 2016). "'Clifford The Big Red Dog' Movie Unleashed At Paramount With Scribe Justin Malen". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  54. ^ McClintock, Pamela (27 February 2019). "'Clifford the Big Red Dog' Movie Lands November 2020 Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  55. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2020-08-29). "'Scream' Relaunch Eyes 2022 Release, 'Snake Eyes' Rolls To 2021 & More – Paramount Release Date Changes". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  56. ^ Byung-yeul, Baek (May 19, 2015). "'Despicable Me' founder shares secret of success". The Korea Times. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  57. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (July 9, 2015). "'Minions' Maker Illumination Forges Pact With South Korean Animator Kyungmin Woo, Options His Short 'Johnny Express' For Feature". Deadline. Retrieved July 10, 2015.