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, 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
Feature film Bugs: Lights Out Prior to the release of Toy Story and even the formation of the actual DreamWorks company itself, the animation studio PDI was shopping around many pitches for a computer-animated film in 1991.[3][4] One of the pitches was a film called Bugs: Lights Out about microscopic insect-like robots who were responsible for the entropy of electronics and machinery. Despite a developed script and some test animations made to pitch the film, the idea was scrapped when the studio was picked up by DreamWorks to make Antz, which said film shares many aspects.[5][6]
Shrek Shrek In 1991, Steven Spielberg purchased the rights to William Steig's 1990 children's book Shrek!. Spielberg originally envisioned his adaptation as a traditionally animated film, 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 film is starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz when the film was completed in 2001.[7][8]
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.[9]


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.[10] The series, titled Escape from Jurassic Park,[11] 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.[12][13][14]


Series Title Description
Feature film Cats By October 1996, 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.[15] The film was turned into the critical and commercial failure version of the same name with Tom Hooper directing.
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, but in July 2000, Universal Pictures cancelled the sequel due to the disappointing sales from the direct-to-video Casper films and the hesitation of Christina Ricci.[16][17]
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.[18][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,[19] but in September 2000, the estate of Ross Bagdasarian Sr. filed suit against Universal Pictures for which development on the film was cancelled.[20] A live-action/CGI film was ultimately released by 20th Century Fox in 2007.
Feature film Just So Stories This project from Amblimation and Universal back in the 90's was Just So Stories based on the book by Rudyard Kipling. Amblimation did only 3 films 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 animated musical adaptation of Cats as the studio closed its doors in 1997 and everyone involved moved on to DreamWorks.[21] 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. The animated series was commissioned by Steven Spielberg and was to be developed by DreamWorks Animation under the supervision of Steve Lyons.[22][23] The cartoon was to 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.[24][25] The new toys were based on the then-upcoming cartoon.[24] The cartoon was scheduled for release sate of March 1998, as a mid-season replacement.[24] The Chaos Effect toyline was released in June 1998,[25] but the animated series was never produced, for unknown reasons.[26][27]


Series Title Description
Feature film Frankenstein In October 1998, Universal Pictures and Industrial Light & Magic jointly announced to produce 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.[28][29][30]
Antz Untitled Antz sequel A direct-to-video sequel to Antz was in development at DreamWorks at the time of its release. Like the first film, it was planned to be produced by Pacific Data Images, and was also considered for theatrical release.[31] By early 1999, when DreamWorks closed its television animation unit and merged the direct-to-video unit with the feature animation, the sequel was still planned, but eventually the project was cancelled. Also, under the same name of Antz, Pixar Animation Studios debated with DreamWorks over whether Antz was a rip-off of their 1998 film A Bug's Life. Eventually, these two studios resolved their conflict and didn't try to sue the other company.[32][33]
Feature film Rockumentary In 1998, DreamWorks and PDI started development on a film parodying The Beatles, which featured a Beatles-esque penguin rock band. The idea was scrapped, but after production on Madagascar started, director Eric Darnell decided to revive the penguins and make them a commando unit instead of a rock band.[34]
Feature film Tusker In December 1998, DreamWorks and PDI announced their third computer-animated project titled Tusker, which was meant to follow Shrek. It would have been an original story chronicling a herd of elephants crossing southeast Asia. In their travels, they encounter a wide variety of dangers, including a band of marauding poachers. Tim Johnson and Brad Lewis, the co-directors and producers of Antz respectively, were slated to direct and produce the project, and Morgan Freeman, Jodie Foster, Garry Shandling, Dana Carvey, Bruno Kirby and Don Knotts were part of the cast.[35]
Feature film The Wanderer A traditional animated feature film that was going to be directed by the Brizzi Brothers and Simon Wells of the story of a stray bear who joins a group of circus bears and changes their lives with the voices of Ellen Greene and James Gandolfini. The film's production was canceled following studio changes when Wells went to direct The Time Machine. As of 2012, some concept art was shown online of what the film's characters would've looked like.[36]


Series Title Description
Feature film Tortoise vs. Hare By October 1999, Aardman was developing a film adaptation of the Aesop fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, with DreamWorks.[37] In July 2001, they postponed production on the film as they continued to rework the script. Bob Hoskins, Orlando Jones, Brenda Blethyn, and Lee Evans were set to voice the characters. Karey Kirkpatrick and Mark Burton were writing the script, though more writers were expected to be brought on to revamp the script. Peter Lord and Nick Park were slated to be executive producers while Richard Goleszowski was attached as director.[38][39]



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.[40] 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.[41] 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., resulting in the live-action adaptation released in October 2009.[42]
Feature film Truckers A film based on The Nome Trilogy books was in the works from 2001 to 2011. They acquired the film rights in 2001,[43] and announced plans to combine all three books into a single film. It was to be directed by Andrew Adamson.[44] In late 2008, Danny Boyle was attached to direct Truckers,[45] but the project fell apart due to financial problems.[46] The following year, the Slumdog Millionaire's Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy was hired to work on the project.[47] Plans to move forward with DreamWorks' adaptation resurfaced in 2010 with the announcement that Legend of the Guardians screenwriter John Orloff would pen the script for director Anand Tucker.[48] Tucker was later announced to direct another DWA film Trolls,[49] which was planned to be partially based on a Pratchett novel,[50] before he was replaced by Mike Mitchell.[51]


Series Title Description
VeggieTales The Bob and Larry Movie The origin story of VeggieTales hosts Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber reveals how they met, how they got their own show, and answers the question how vegetables and fruit talk. This was the first film in the series to feature humans. According to Phil Vischer, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie was their The Ten Commandments, while The Bob and Larry Movie was to be their Toy Story.[52] The Bob and Larry Movie was originally planned to be the second VeggieTales movie with a released date in late 2005. It was placed into production in early 2002, toward the end of production of Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (2002).[53] However, Big Idea Productions fell into bankruptcy in late 2002 and the film was placed on hiatus, deemed too expensive. Phil Vischer then wrote The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie to replace this film. In 2008, it was considered to be the sequel to The Pirates who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie, but talks stalled after the bankruptcy of VeggieTales owners Entertainment Rights and Classic Media. Phil Vischer said in 2018 that his copy of The Bob and Larry script exists, but doesn't want to release it because it is owned by Universal and DreamWorks.[53]


Series Title Description
Feature film Crood Awakening In 2005, DreamWorks started to develop a stop-motion film with Aardman Animations called Crood Awakening, an adaptation of the book called The Twits by Roald Dahl in caveman times. It was cancelled because of the split between the two companies in 2007. Both companies have now made their own prehistoric caveman films, The Croods for DreamWorks and Early Man for Aardman, but neither of these two films are related to said book.


Series Title Description
Feature film Punk Farm In April 2006, DreamWorks Animation had the rights to develop a computer-animated film adaptation of the children's book of the same name by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.[54] In June 2011, the project was eventually picked up by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but with no further news since.[55][56]


Series Title Description
Feature film The Legend of Spyro 3D By September 2007, the film rights for Spyro the Dragon were purchased by The Animation Picture Company.[57] 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 was delayed to April 10, 2010, for its North American release. It was later confirmed by Daniel Altiere himself that the film had been officially cancelled due to decisions made by Activision to go in a different direction,[58] which was later revealed to be in the form of Skylanders.
Bee Movie Bee Movie sequel While it was never announced by the studio (although Jeffrey Katzenberg briefly joked about one in 2007[59]), comedian Jerry Seinfeld, the producer, writer, and star of 2007's Bee Movie, said that he has no interest in making a sequel. During a Reddit AMA in June 2016, a fan asked about the possibility for Bee Movie 2. Seinfeld responded:

I considered it this spring for a solid six hours. There's a fantastic energy now for some reason, on the internet particularly. Tumblr, people brought my attention to. I actually did consider it, but then I realized it would make Bee Movie 1 less iconic. But my kids want me to do it, a lot of people want me to do it. A lot of people that don't know what animation is want me to do it. If you have any idea what animation is, you'd never do it.[60]

Feature film Gullible's Travels In January 2007, DreamWorks bought a spec script titled Gullible's Travels which would have been about a man who travels through time via a porta potty to find the woman he loves. Steve Bencich and Ron J. Friedman (Open Season, Chicken Little) were slated to write and produce the project.[61]
Feature film InterWorld In June 2007, author Neil Gaiman reported in his journal that he had pitched the idea of InterWorld to DreamWorks back in 1996, but the executives were confused on the concept. Along with Michael Raeves, they later published their work into the novel, in which DreamWorks Animation had optioned into producing an animated film.[62]
Feature film The Book of Life DreamWorks initially optioned to make The Book of Life back in 2007, but the production was cancelled due to "creative differences" with director Jorge Gutierrez.[63] The film was eventually made at 20th Century Fox Animation and Reel FX Creative Studios and was released by 20th Century Fox (which also had a distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation at that time) in 2014 to critical praise.


Series Title Description
Feature film Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians DreamWorks Animation acquired the film rights to Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians in June 2008.[64] By January 2011, Brandon Sanderson, the author of the novel, revealed that DreamWorks did not renew the rights.[65]
Feature film Emily the Strange Since 2000, Rob Reger has been trying to make a feature film adaptation of Emily. In 2005, Fox Animation went to make a live action/animated feature film,[66] with Chris Meledandri and John Cohen producing it.[67] Mike Richardson, of Dark Horse Entertainment, came on board as a producer in 2008.[68] The same year it was unofficially reported that the film moved to Universal Studios' owned Illumination Entertainment, along with the studio's founders, Meledandri and Cohen.[69] In September 2010, Universal Studios acquired the rights to the comic, and the actress Chloë Grace Moretz was cast in the role of Emily.[70] Melisa Wallack, who wrote the script for Mirror Mirror, was hired to write the adaptation in the following year in August.[71] Two months later it was confirmed that the film was indeed in the works at Illumination Entertainment.[72] Kealan O'Rourke was brought to rewrite the film's script.[73] By December 2016, Universal abandoned the project, and Dark Horse Entertainment and Amazon Studios were in negotiations to make an animated film.[74]


Series Title Description
Feature film Flanimals A 3-D, computer-animated feature film based on the Flanimals book series was in production at Illumination by April 2009. 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,[75] but the project was later removed from the development schedule.[76]
Where's Waldo? Where's Waldo? In June 2009, Universal and Illumination Entertainment acquired the rights to turn Where's Waldo? into a live-action film, was to be produced by Chris Meledandri with Classic Media's (now DreamWorks Classics) executive producer Eric Ellenbogen,[77] but the project was later cancelled.[78]
Feature film Untitled Cryptozoology film In December 2009, 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.[79]
Feature film Jack & Ben's Animated Adventure When Laika Entertainment opened, they announced their first projects, the stop-motion film Coraline, and the CGI animated film Jack & Ben's Animated Adventure.[80] The studio laid off a significant portion of its staff in 2008, when its second planned feature was cancelled.[81]
Feature film Dinotrux In March 2009, the studio had rights to the children's book Dinotrux, originally planned as a CG-animated film. It wasn't until 2015 when the studio produced an animated series based on the books for Netflix. The series ended up lasting for eight seasons from 2015 to 2018.[82] As of 2019, the film was still in development, this time with a different plot for the film.
Feature film Gil's All Fright Diner By December 2009, the studio had set screenwriters Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (Kung Fu Panda) to write a film adaptation of the book, Gil's All Fright Diner, with Barry Sonnenfeld attached to direct the feature.[83] In 2011, the book's author A. Lee Martinez was working with DreamWorks on a project based on an original idea, and not on Gil's All Fright Diner.[84] In March 2013, Martinez expressed uncertainty for any film adaptation: "Your guess is as good as mine. It's all a matter of convincing someone with the clout necessary to make it happen".[85]



Series Title Description
Curious George Curious George By July 2010, Illumination was developing a live-action animated film based on Curious George, with Larry Stuckey writing the script,[86] but in November 2015 the film project was cancelled.[87]
Feature film Pluto In October 2010, Illumination Entertainment and Tezuka Productions jointly announced to develop a live-action/computer-animated film of the Japanese manga series Pluto.[88]
The Addams Family The Addams Family In 2010, Universal and Illumination acquired the underlying rights to the Addams Family drawings.[89] 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.[90] By July 2013, the film was cancelled; had been made, this would have been Illumination's first stop-motion animated film.[91] Eventually, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picked up rights to the film and a computer-animated film was released in 2019, with Sausage Party directors Greg Tiernan and former DreamWorks Animation staff member Conrad Vernon to direct.[92] Universal handled the international distribution rights for the film, as well as physical home media worldwide distribution rights.


Series Title Description
Feature film Uglydolls In May 2011, Illumination acquired the rights to Uglydolls to make an animated feature film,[93] but the project never came into fruition. An animated film based on Uglydolls became the first family and animation project produced by STXfilms[94] and was released in May 2019.[95]
Woody Woodpecker Woody Woodpecker By 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,[96] but in July 2013, Illumination canceled the project.[97] 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 The Cat in the Hat.[98] Rob Lieber was set to write the script, with Chris Meledandri as producer, and Audrey Geisel as the executive producer, but the project never came into fruition.[99] By January 2018, Warner Animation Group was in development of an animated Cat in the Hat film as part of a creative partnership with Seuss Enterprises which is set to be released in 2025.[100]
Feature film Clifford the Big Red Dog In May 2012, Universal and Illumination began to develop a live-action/animated feature film based on the Clifford the Big Red Dog book series. Matt Lopez was hired to write the script, while Chris Meledandri and Deborah Forte were attached to produce the film.[101] In July 2013, Illumination dropped the project.[102] Paramount Pictures later acquired the rights to develop the film, which was eventually released on November 10, 2021, following a number of delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[103][104][105]
Feature film Goblins Laika Entertainment was interested to adapt the Philip Reeve's book named Goblins into an animated feature, but nothing came up of the project since the initial announcement.[106][107]


Series Title Description
Feature film Larrikins By June 2013, Tim Minchin was attached to compose the songs and score for Larrikins, which was based on an original concept by Harry Cripps.[108] The project was about a desert-dwelling bilby named Perry who leaves his home under a rock to go on a road trip with a music band in Australia. Three years later, Minchin and Chris Miller were attached to direct the film while Margot Robbie, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts, Rose Byrne, Ben Mendelsohn, Jacki Weaver, Josh Lawson, Damon Herriman, and Ewen Leslie were to voice characters for the film. The film was slated to be released on February 16, 2018.[109] In 2017, Minchin announced on his personal blog that the project had been cancelled. Minchin wrote on his blog:

I've recently been working in 3 different continents, missing my kids a lot, sleeping too little and not playing piano enough. And then a couple of days ago, the animated film to which I've dedicated the last 4 years of my life was shut down by the new studio execs. The only way I know how to deal with my impotent fury and sadness is to subject members of the public to the spectacle of me getting drunk and playing ballads.[110][111]

Shortly after the film's cancellation, Peter de Sève revealed some concept art for the film via Twitter.[112][113] Certain characters from the cancelled project later appeared in the 2018 animated short film Bilby.[114]

Shrek Shrek 5 In February 2014, in an interview with Fox Business Network, Katzenberg hinted that a fifth film may still be made. In June 2016, after NBCUniversal purchased DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke discussed plans to revive the franchise, as well as other DreamWorks films. That September, Eddie Murphy confirmed that the film was expected to be released in 2019 or 2020, and that the script had been completed. The story for the film was written by Michael McCullers, based on his own idea, with an intention to reinvent the series. By November 2018, the film was scrapped in favor of a reboot of the Shrek and Puss in Boots franchises produced by Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri, but the original voice cast may still return.


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.[115][116]


Series Title Description
Feature film Spooky Jack In 2017, DreamWorks announced an original feature called Spooky Jack, with a planned release date of September 17, 2021. Jason Blum was to serve as executive producer, and would've been a co-production with Blumhouse Productions.[117] The premise would've been about three siblings who moved into an eerie new home and discover that all the creatures that have been told don't exist. By October 2019, Spooky Jack was removed from the schedule, with its original release date replaced by The Bad Guys, based on the Scholastic book series by Aaron Blabey.[118] Concept art for the film have been released.


Series Title Description
Feature film Yokai Samba In 2018, Leo Matsuda was hired to write and direct Yokai Samba, based on the trade reports that are inspired by a folk story Matsuda heard in his youth about growing up and has Brazilian and Japanese influences.[119] By March 2021, Nickelodeon began to develop the film.[120]


Series Title Description
VeggieTales Untitled VeggieTales Film In March 2019, just around the same time as the announcement of The VeggieTales Show, series creator Phil Vischer revealed that a new film based on VeggieTales is in development,[121] later said to be centered around a Bible story similar to Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie.[122] In 2020, Phil completed and turned in the screenplay's first draft. He was given notes and the go-ahead to revise and write a second draft before the official pitch to studio executives.[123] Phil completed the final draft of the screenplay and Universal was in talks with a co-production partner for the film.[124] Eventually, Phil, alongside Mike Nawrocki, Lisa Vischer, and Kurt Heinecke, departed from Big Idea Entertainment, thus putting the company in limbo.[125]


See also


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  3. ^ PDI Promo Brochure 1990s - Page 6
  4. ^ 'Antz' Hits 20: Re-Visiting PDI's Tech From 20 Years Ago
  5. ^ YouTubeInterview with PDI founder Carl Rosendahl Part 1
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