‘Migration’ All-Star Voice Cast Revealed by Illumination

CinemaCon 2023: Kumail Nanjiani, Elizabeth Banks and Awkwafina star in the studio’s latest original theatrical animated film

Kumail Nanjiani Elizabeth Banks Awkwafina
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Chris Melendandri took time in his CinemaCon presentation remarks to highlight the vocal cast for Illumination’s upcoming animated original “Migration.”

“Migration” will star Kumail Nanjiani as an anxious Mallard dad and Elizabeth Banks as the less-anxious, more headstrong mother Mallard. The son and daughter will be voiced by Casper Jennings and Tresi Gazal, with a supporting cast including Awkwafina, Carol Kane, Keegan-Michael Key, David Mitchell and Danny DeVito.

Melendandri exited the stage and a brief sizzle reel followed. It was focused on our fowl family, led by a father who is “afraid to leave this pond.” His mind is changed when he realizes that he can’t spend his or his family’s life hiding in the same place. And with that, they take off in a soaring vista as the youngest bird overcomes her anxiety about pooping in the sky. Spoiler: She convinces her family to make a quick bathroom stop on the ground. “Why are we the only birds heading this way,” Mom inquires as they find their way to a thriving big city. That includes brushes with car-related peril and brushes with humanity, including at least one cook thirsting for duck ala orange.

The film is penned by Mike White and directed by Benjamin Renner. Produced by Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri, “Migration” is co-directed by Guylo Homsy, and edited by Christian Gazal. The Production Designer is Colin Stimpson.

Opening this Christmas season, “Migration” will be a key test as to whether Illumination can still grab family audiences to original animated films. That’s an industry-wide issue, with even Disney and Pixar struggling before (“Onward”) and after (“Strange World”) the initial years of the COVID pandemic.

Back in 2016, “The Secret Life of Pets” earned $875 million worldwide and “Sing” grossed $671 million globally. Since then, Illumination’s animated output has been confined to sequels like “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Despicable Me 3” and IP adaptations like “The Grinch” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.”

That’s not a criticism, as part of the reward of scoring blockbuster originals is getting to cash in on sequels to those films. However, this original film does arrive in a very different landscape for original theatrical toons. Considering the success Universal has had with Illumination and DreamWorks of late, the odds are in their favor.