Relativity Media has moved up its animated film “Turkeys” by a year and will release it Nov. 1, multiple individuals close to the project told TheWrap. In addition, Amy Poehler has joined the voice cast for the film, which Relativity and Reel FX are co-producing and co-financing, TheWrap has learned.
The movie had been scheduled to debut Nov. 14, 2014, but Relativity and Reel FX made the aggressive scheduling move based on early footage, according to two of those individuals. Development on the project began in June 2009 and physical production began in January 2011.
Poehler, who joins Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, will voice the female lead.
Executives at the studio met about the film this week, weighing the challenges the move will pose to the filmmaking, marketing, sponsorship and merchandising teams with the opportunity to seize this Thanksgiving's family market.
DreamWorks Animation recently moved “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” from Nov. 1 to March 2014, opening the door for kid-friendly fare before the Nov. 22 opening of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Most of the other movies scheduled for October and November will cater to more mature audiences, spanning genres like science fiction ("Gravity," "Ender's Game"), horror ("Paranormal Activity 5," "Carrie") and action ("Malavita," "Thor: The Dark World").
Jeffrey Katzenberg's animation house has released a movie in the fall for eight of the last nine years, but its new distribution partner, Fox, moved "Peabody" to March, a month when the studio has had prior success with the "Ice Age" franchise.
DreamWorks Animation had a costly miss last November with “Rise of the Guardians,” which grossed $301 million at the box office -- a healthy sum, but not enough to cover costs. The company is expected to take a hefty write-down as a result in its upcoming fourth quarter earnings.
Reel FX, the Dallas-based animation and visual effects studio behind “Turkeys,” actually sold “Guardians” to DWA five years ago.
“Turkeys” features the voices of Wilson and Harrelson as two spunky birds that take a time machine back to the first Thanksgiving. They want to expunge turkeys from Thanksgiving's culinary tradition. Lesley Nicol of "Downton Abbey," George Takei of "Star Trek" fame, Keith David and Colm Meaney have also been cast. Dan Fogler was already lending his voice.
Jimmy Hayward is directing the film from a script by Craig Mazin, David I. Stern, John J. Strauss.