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Three-time Oscar-nominated director Chris Sandlers and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o previewed unfinished footage of DreamWorks Animation‘s “The Wild Robot” at CinemaCon — what Sandlers says took inspiration from Disney classics and Hayao Miyazaki’s work, resulting in an original virtual style that he described as “a Monet painting in a Miyazaki forest.”

Based on Peter Brown’s book, the story follows Roz, a robot voiced by Nyong’o, who is accidentally marooned on an uninhabited island. There, the city robot meets and learns from the animals in her new environment.

In this rich world, a fox meets and advises Roz. “You need to learn how things work on this island, and kindness is not a survival skill,” the fox says.

Soon Roz watches a baby gosling hatch, who believes Roz is his mother. They form a bond as Roz tries to figure out how the baby can learn to swim and fly. As the footage concludes, Roz asserts, “This is my home and I am a Wild Robot.”

The voice cast also includes Pedro Pascal, Catherine O’Hara, Bill Nighy, Kit Connor, Stephanie Hsu and Mark Hamill.

To make the movie, Sanders returned to DreamWorks Animation, where his credits include “How To Train Your Dragon,” which he write and directed with Dean DeBlois; and “The Croods,” which he wrote and directed with Kirk DeMicco.

DWA president Margie Cohn began the segment of the Universal presentation, saying the studio is committed to its franchises as well as new originals. “The Wild Robot” is slated for a Sept. 20 release.



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