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Emoji Animated Movie Happening at Sony

By Brian Gallagher — July 21st, 2015

Sony Pictures Animation has emerged victorious in a bidding war for a project based on the social media icons known as Emoji. Warner Bros. and Paramount were also vying for the project, but Deadline reports that Sony Pictures Animation was much more aggressive in their pursuit of the animated movie. Anthony Leondis (B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations) is attached to direct and he is co-writing the screenplay with Eric Siegel.

What makes this project unique is there are no underlying rights to purchase, because the Emoji icons are in public domain. There is reportedly another pitch that will be shopped to the studios soon centering on Emoji, but it isn't clear who is behind that project quite yet. No details were given about how the story will be brought to life, but director Anthony Leondis pitched the studios using storyboards that explained how the movie would play out.

Emoji icons were first created by Shigetaka Kurita in Japan during the late 1990s, while he was working on NTT DoCoMo's team that was creating an i-mode mobile Internet platform. The Emoji, which literally means "picture (e) + character (moji)" in Japanese, were used to help set the platform apart from its competitors, and while they originated in Japan, they began to spread worldwide in the 2000s. Last year, the 20th Century Fox comedy The Other Woman launched the first ever Emoji trailer. During Star Wars Celebration in April, fans who tweeted by using certain hashtags received their own Star Wars: The Force Awakens Emoji.

This won't be the first time that a property with no underlying narrative has been turned into a feature. Before The Lego Movie became a worldwide blockbuster, earning $468 million worldwide at the box office, many fans questioned how these building blocks would be given a narrative story. Sony will also release an adaptation of the popular mobile video game, Angry Birds, which is set for release next July. Still, no details were given for Anthony Leondis pitch just yet, so we'll have to wait and see how these tiny illustrations could be turned into movie characters.

Anthony Leondis' directing credits include Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch, Igor and Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters. He also directed the upcoming B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, which was originally slated to hit theaters on June 5, 2015, but it was delayed back in November and a new release date has yet to be given. Seth Rogen, Melissa McCarthy, Rashida Jones, Matthew Bomer, Bill Murray, Jennifer Coolidge and Octavia Spencer lead the voice cast for B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, and we'll have to wait and see if Anthony Leondis calls upon any of these actors to voice the Emoji. What do you think of an Emoji movie?

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