Veteran animators announced to direct the ‘Hello Kitty’ live-action movie

The fans of the much loved fictional character Hello Kitty now have a reason to rejoice as the Hello Kitty animation/live-action project is in motion as animation veterans Jennifer Coyle and Leo Matsuda will be helming the upcoming English-language film.

The announcement was made by the two directors, as well as Warner Bros. Entertainment’s California-based New Line Cinema’s chief creative officer Richard Brener.

A few months after the announcement of the movie back in 2019, the project landed its head writer, Lindsey Beer. Beer is an accomplished screenwriter with credits like Transformers and Masters of the Universe in her back pocket. Known Universe, the banner that Beer has established with fellow writers Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Tomb Raider), will also executive produce.

Jennifer Coyle, whose recent credits include producer for HBO Max’s animated Harley Quinn series, Scooby-Doo!, Curse of the 13th Ghost, and DC Super Hero Girls. Coyle also served as a director for DC Super Hero Girls and Bob’s Burgers. Speaking about her upcoming project, Coyle said, “This is not only a rare chance to bring a beloved character to life, but also to spread the message of love, friendship and inclusivity that Hello Kitty stands for. The world so needs her brand of joy and happiness.”

Sharing the directing duties with Coyle is Japanese-Brazilian artist Leo Matsuda, best known for writing and directing the Disney animated short Inner Workings before contributing to Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Ralph Breaks the Internet as a story artist. Matsuda’s directorial debut Inner Workings was a heartwarming short which premiered before the Disney hit Moana, and was shortlisted for the Oscars in 2017.

While speaking about the film, he recalled, “Growing up in Brazil with a Japanese family, I was surrounded by the whimsy of Hello Kitty and it served as a reminder that it’s okay to be different. Along with Jen, FlynnPictureCo. and New Line, I am delighted by this incredible opportunity to work with one of the most universally beloved characters and expand their relatable Sanrio stories even further.”

New Line president/chief creative officer Brener said that the studio was “extremely lucky to have found in Jennifer and Leo, two directors who not only share a profound connection to the unforgettable characters Shintaro Tsuji and Sanrio have created over the past 40-plus years with Hello Kitty and her friends, but also have the imagination, talent and heart to bring this iconic world to life on the big screen.”

This will be the first time that Coyle and Matsuda have collaborated and it will also be the first studio film that either of them will direct. Beau Flynn and his FlynnPictureCo. will produce the film and have pursued the Hello Kitty rights for over five years with New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. It will also be the first time that a studio will ever bring Hello Kitty to the big screen.

Although the Hello Kitty film was announced in 2019, no casting announcements have yet been made. Also, there are no plot details currently available, but it has been said that the film is intended to appeal to a Western audience.

The film will have its own unique difficulty to address, as the character will not have a mouth, a purposeful design decision that with the intention to help fans project whatever emotion they’re feeling at the moment onto the character, making her constantly relatable.
Animation has become increasingly more popular as it’s easier to work on during the coronavirus pandemic. However, even before the pandemic, animation/live-action hybrids emerged as a trend. One of the most notable of these hybrids was Sonic- The Hedgehog. The most recent animation/live-action film to hit theaters is Tom and Jerry.

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