Stray, the smash-hit feline simulator platformer, is getting an animated film adaptation. As per Entertainment Weekly, Annapurna Animation is kickstarting its next lineup of movies, starting with 2022’s award-winning title from BlueTwelve, wherein you play as a drone-equipped ginger cat lost in the neon-lit alleys of a forgotten cyber city, trying to get back home while dodging machines and robots. Robert Baird, who co-leads the division with Andrew Millstein, described the film’s style as having a ‘hopepunk’ vibe that relies on optimism as a weapon, with the latter adding that Stray was the first pick simply because it was ‘wildly popular.’
“This is a game that’s all about what makes us human, and there are no humans in it,” Baird told EW in an interview. “It’s a buddy comedy about a cat and a robot, and there’s such a hilarious dynamic. So, there’s comedy inherent in this, but there’s not one human being in this movie.” One of the key reasons for Stray’s breakout popularity was that you’re seeing the world through the eyes of a cat, in addition to reacting in every feline way possible — be it through scratching walls, pushing artefacts from high objects, or even being able to “meow” on command. Initially, there is no explanation for why there are no humans in its dystopian world, but relying on your instinctual and animalistic curiosity, you must solve its puzzles to reveal the larger mystery.
Baird did admit to sometimes feeling like the task is ‘impossible,’ which is understandable given that Stray relies on a lot of environmental storytelling, while most of its dialogue is reserved for B-12, a drone with the consciousness of a human scientist that attaches itself to the cat’s back. All this needs to be fitted into a feature-length film, and deciding whether such a concept would work with a mainstream audience, was part of the process for Baird. He and the aforementioned Millstein previously worked at Blue Sky Studios — best known for Ice Age — before getting shut down by Disney in 2021. They later founded Annapurna Animation, which marked its debut with Nimona for Netflix. In its futuristic medieval world, where a knight (Riz Ahmed) is framed for a tragic murder he didn’t commit, the only person who can prove his innocence happens to be Nimona (Chloë Grace Moretz), a mysterious shapeshifting creature he’s sworn to destroy.
The report further mentions that its director Nick Bruno has joined Annapurna Animation as an in-house filmmaker, and is already developing an untitled original animated film, which is described to be ‘very high concept’ and ‘heartfelt.’ Meanwhile, Ice Age’s director Robert Wedge is currently working on an animated title called FOO — short for ‘fish out of water.’ Even the elevator pitch is quite literal, in the sense that it follows the first fish to ever venture out of a water body onto land, only to immediately regret it and hilariously try and make it back.
News about the Stray animated movie comes on the heels of several other video game adaptations this year, that have been remarkably successful. The Super Mario Bros. Movie joined the billion-dollar club at the global box office, while HBO’s The Last of Us earned 24 total nominations at the upcoming Emmy Awards, including one for Outstanding Drama Series. There was also the Gran Turismo movie, whose promotional campaign was heavily affected by the ongoing Hollywood labour strikes.