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.
|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.|
|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. One of which 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.|
|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 movie is starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz when the film was completed in 2001.|
|Feature film and television series||Untitled MC Skat Kat film||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.|
|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. The series, titled Escape from Jurassic Park, 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.|
|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. 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. 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.|
|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.[better source needed]|
|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. However, in September 2000, the estate of Ross Bagdasarian Sr. filed suit against Universal Pictures for which development on the film was cancelled. 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 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 animated musical adaptation of Cats as the studio closed its doors in 1997 and everyone involved moved on to DreamWorks. 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. 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. The new toys were based on the upcoming cartoon. That month, it was also reported that the cartoon could be ready by March 1998, as a mid-season replacement. The Chaos Effect toyline was released in June 1998, but the animated series was never produced, for unknown reasons.|
|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.|
|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. 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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Television series||Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect||An animated series based on the 1997 film The Lost World: Jurassic Park was commissioned by Steven Spielberg himself, and was to be developed by DreamWorks under the supervision of Steve Lyons. The series would have been released after the film with the same name and would have involved hybrid dinosaurs similar to Jurassic World, but was eventually shelved due to a variety of internal conflicts.|
|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.|
|Feature film||Tortoise vs. Hare||In October 1999, Aardman announced they were developing a film adaptation of the Aesop fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, with DreamWorks. In July 2001, it was announced that they had 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 would serve as director.|
|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. 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. 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.|
|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, and announced plans to combine all three books into a single film. It was to be directed by Andrew Adamson. In late 2008, Danny Boyle was attached to direct Truckers, but the project fell apart as "a victim of this economic crisis." The following year, the Slumdog Millionaire's Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy was hired to work on the project. 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. Tucker was later announced to direct another DWA film Trolls, which was planned to be partially based on a Pratchett novel, before he was replaced by Mike Mitchell.|
|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, "Since Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie was our The Ten Commandments, The Bob and Larry Movie would be our Toy Story." 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). 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 movie. 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 2008 recession had led to the bankruptcy of VeggieTales owners Entertainment Rights and Classic Media. According to Phil Vischer in 2018, "I have a copy of The Bob and Larry script on my laptop, but probably won't release it because it is technically owned by Universal and DreamWorks. It will hopefully be produced in the near future."|
|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 movies, The Croods for DreamWorks and Early Man for Aardman, but neither of these two films are related to said book.|
|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. In June 2011, the project was eventually picked up by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but with no further news since.|
|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. 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, which was later revealed 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), 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,
|Feature film||Gullible's Travels||In January 2007, DreamWorks announced they had 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.|
|Feature film||InterWorld||On June 16, 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.|
|Feature film||The Book of Life||DreamWorks initially optioned to make The Book of Life back in 2007. However, production was cancelled due to "creative differences" with director Jorge Gutierrez. 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.|
|Feature film||Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians||DreamWorks Animation acquired the film rights to Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians in June 2008. On January 3, 2011, Brandon Sanderson, the author of the novel, tweeted that DreamWorks did not renew the rights.|
|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. however it has been removed from the development schedule.|
|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, but the project was cancelled.|
|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.|
|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. The studio laid off a significant portion of its staff in 2008, when its second planned feature, was cancelled.|
|Feature film||Dinotrux||In March 2009, it was announced that the studio had option the 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. As of 2019, the movie was still in development, this time with a different plot for the film.|
|Feature film||Gil's All Fright Diner||In December 2009, it was reported that 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. In 2011, the book's author A. Lee Martinez wrote on his blog that he was working with DreamWorks on a project based on an original idea, and not on Gil's All Fright Diner. 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."|
|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, but in November 2015 it was reported that the film was cancelled.|
|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.|
|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. 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. 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. 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. Ironically, Universal handled the international distribution rights for the film, as well as physical home media worldwide distribution rights.|
|Feature film||Uglydolls||In May 2011, it was announced that Illumination had acquired the rights to Uglydolls to make an animated feature film. 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; it was released in May 2019.|
|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, but in July 2013, Illumination canceled the project. The film was eventually released as a live-action/CGI hybrid film in 2017.|
|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. 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. 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.|
|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. In July 2013, it was reported that Illumination had dropped the project. 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.|
|Feature film||Goblins||It was announced that Laika Entertainment would be adapting the Philip Reeve's book Goblins, Nothing has ever came up of the project since the initial announcement.|
|Feature film||Larrikins||In June 2013, it was announced that Tim Minchin would compose the songs and score for Larrikins, which was based on an original concept by Harry Cripps. 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. In June 2016, it was announced that Minchin and Chris Miller were 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. In March 2017, Minchin announced on his personal blog that the project had been cancelled. Minchin wrote on his blog,
Shortly after the film's cancellation, Peter de Sève revealed some concept art for the film via Twitter. Fortunately, however, certain characters from the film later appeared in the 2018 animated short film Bilby.
|Shrek||Shrek 5||In February 2014, in an interview with Fox Business Network, Katzenberg hinted that a fifth film may still be made. "We like to let them have a little bit of time to rest," he said of the characters. "But I think you can be confident that we'll have another chapter in the Shrek series. We're not finished, and more importantly, neither is he." On June 15, 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. In July 2016, The Hollywood Reporter cited sources saying that the fifth film was planned for a 2019 release. In September 2016, 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. However, in November 2018, Variety reported that the movie had been scrapped in favor of a reboot of the Shrek and Puss in Boots franchises produced by Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri, however, the original voice cast may still return.|
|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.|
|Feature film||Spooky Jack||On September 19, 2017, DreamWorks announced an original feature called Spooky Jack, with a planned release date of September 17, 2021. Jason Blum would serve as executive producer, and would've been a co-production with Blumhouse Productions. The premise would've been about three siblings who moved into an eerie new home and discover that all the creatures we’ve been told don't exist actually do. On October 7, 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. Concept art for the film have been released.|
|Feature film||Yokai Samba||On April 11, 2018, it was announced that Leo Matsuda would 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. On March 2, 2021, it was announced that Nickelodeon will instead develop the film.|
There's an interesting project called, right now it's called Trolls, and it's kind of partially based on Terry Pratchett novel. Anand Tucker, another live action director is directing.
The book I mentioned last week is ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS. It has been optioned by Dreamworks Animation, though I can't go into details about who is working on the project at the moment, I've been very impressed with the work of the director and producer involved.
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."
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."
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.
His original animated feature Yokai Samba is in development at Nickelodeon.