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DreamWorks to Preview Exclusive ‘The Wild Robot’ Footage at Annecy

Oscar-nominated writer/director Chris Sanders will present his creative vision in a special first look session at the festival, while members of his creative team, including production designer Raymond Zibach and head of story Heidi Jo Gilbert, will lead a presentation on the film’s design; studio will also screen Sanders and Dean DeBlois’ landmark 2010 hit, ‘How to Train Your Dragon.’

DreamWorks Animation, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, has just announced that it will preview never-seen footage from the studio’s highly anticipated new 3DCG film, The Wild Robot, written and directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Chris Sanders and starring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, at the Annecy Animation Festival, which runs June 9-15, 2024.

The studio will showcase The Wild Robot on June 11 with a filmmaker presentation from Sanders, whose previous films include How to Train Your Dragon, The Croods and Lilo & Stitch; and with an Artists’ Panel featuring a discussion with five members of the film’s creative leadership team. That evening will conclude with an outdoor screening of Sanders and Dean DeBlois’ landmark DreamWorks Animation film, How to Train Your Dragon. On the morning of June 12, DreamWorks will also offer a signing session with filmmakers.

Here's the film’s stunning first trailer:

“As we approach our 30th anniversary this fall, DreamWorks Animation continues to reach for new levels of artistic excellence, with stories that ignite the hearts and minds of audiences around the world, and no film embodies that mission more than Chris Sanders’ The Wild Robot,” says DreamWorks Animation President Margie Cohn. “Chris and producer Jeff Hermann have lovingly translated Peter Brown’s renowned literary sensation into a genuine work of art. We have no doubt that the film they’ve created is a classic in the making, and we’re proud and honored to share this exclusive look at their achievement at Annecy this year.”

Adapted from Peter Brown’s New York Times bestseller, the film hits theaters September 20. It follows the epic adventure of a robot - ROZZUM unit 7134, ‘Roz’ for short - that is shipwrecked on an uninhabited island and must learn to adapt to the harsh surroundings, gradually building relationships with the animals on the island and becoming the adoptive parent of an orphaned gosling.

The Wild Robot stars Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (UsThe Black Panther franchise) as robot Roz; Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Pedro Pascal (The Last of UsThe Mandalorian) as fox Fink; Emmy winner Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s CreekBest in Show) as opossum Pinktail; Oscar nominee Bill Nighy (LivingLove Actually) as goose Longneck; Kit Connor (HeartstopperRocketman) as gosling Brightbill and Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once, this summer’s The Fall Guy) as Vontra, a robot that will intersect with Roz’s life on the island.

The film is written and directed by Sanders, who wrote and directed DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your DragonThe Croods, and Disney’s Lilo & Stitch. Jeff Hermann (DreamWorks Animation’s The Boss Baby 2: Family Business; co-producer, Kung Fu Panda franchise) produces.

The film also features the voice talents of Emmy winning pop-culture icon Mark Hamill (Star Wars franchise, The Boy and the Heron), Matt Berry (What We Do in the ShadowsThe SpongeBob Movie franchise) and Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible films, Pulp Fiction).

Known as a powerful story about the discovery of self, a thrilling examination of the bridge between technology and nature and a moving exploration of what it means to be alive and connected to all living things, Peter Brown’s “The Wild Robot,” an illustrated middle-grade novel first published in 2016, became a phenomenon, rocketing to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. The book has since inspired a trilogy that now includes “The Wild Robot Escapes” and “The Wild Robot Protects.” Brown’s work on “The Wild Robot” series and his other bestselling books have earned him a Caldecott Honor, a Horn Book Award, two E.B. White Awards, two E.B. White Honors, a Children’s Choice Award for Illustrator of the Year, two Irma Black Honors, a Golden Kite Award and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award.

The studio’s Annecy schedule is as follows:

Writer/Director Chris Sanders Presents a First Look of The Wild Robot

On Tuesday, June 11 at 10:30 a.m. at Bonlieu Grande Salle (Main Theatre), DreamWorks Animation will host the Chris Sanders Presentation with The Wild Robot’s visionary writer-director. Three-time Academy Award nominee Sanders will present a preview of never-before-seen footage from the film. Highlighting his influences from impressionism and classic animation, Sanders will take the Annecy audience on a journey through the world of Rozzum 7134 and the wilderness of an island uninhabited by humans, as Roz sets out on an adventure that will change the course of her original programming.  

Designing the World of The Wild Robot

In the evening of June 11, from 6 p.m. – 7:15 pm at Volière, DreamWorks Animation will present The Wild Robot Artists’ Panel, featuring the acclaimed leaders of the film’s creative team including Production Designer Raymond Zibach, Head of Story Heidi Jo Gilbert, Head of Character Animation Jakob Hjort Jensen, Visual Effects Supervisor Jeff Budsberg and Head of Look Baptiste Van Opstal. Zibach will lead a conversation with the team about how they, inspired by impressionism and classic animation, set out to achieve the vision of writer-director Chis Sanders: to bring a painting to life. 

How To Train Your Dragon Outdoor Screening

The evening panel will be followed by a 10:15 p.m. outdoor screening at Paquier of Chris Sanders’ and Dean DeBlois’ landmark DreamWorks Animation classic How to Train Your Dragon, with an introduction by Chris Sanders.

Source: DreamWorks Animation

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.