With the summer holidays now in full swing, The Emoji Movie is just days from release. From being mere breakwaters in a text message or Facebook post – known as “emoticons” in previous years – classic emojis such as the simple smile, the love heart and the laughing LOL are now starring in their own film. Set inside a smartphone, the film sees those classic emojis team up with newer additions, such as the monkey face, the ice cream and (of course) the ever-popular “poop”.

On the surface, The Emoji Movie could be dismissed as just another whimsical, money-spinning animated tale. However, it has the potential to be much more than that. It is already known that one of the plot lines involves a single emoji that struggles to fit in, with one of the trailers also making reference to emojis that go largely un-used:

Within this, there is a clear hint towards issues that affect the real world, where no person – regardless of age or background – wishes to feel ostracized or in any other way socially redundant. This rings particularly true for the film’s main demographic: viewers within the 11-18 age category that depend on smart-phones every day, and families that use social media regularly in a bid to showcase their daily lives and any milestones they may reach as a family.

With the peak audience accounted for, here are three possible ideas for future films based on apps, social media and emojis.

1. Inside Out 2
In a similar vein to The Emoji Movie, 2015’s breakthrough animated film Inside Out focused on base human emotions embodied. Indeed, the use of colors and personas – among them a cheerful yellow character (“Joy”) given body as a confident millennial woman, and a constantly-vexed red, overweight corporate of the baby-boomer era (representing anger) – was a novel idea.

Such is the power of social media, that anyone can now express emotions on a much wider scale, from a group of friends to an entire world of followers. Indeed, through status updates, people can truly become one of the five main characters in Inside Out. It is therefore unsurprising that its target audience was so easily able to relate to the body (a girl in the early throes of adolescence) in which the emotions reside. Subsequently, Inside Out was universally applauded as a box office success.

Though rumours of a sequel have naturally been rife, it is surely just a matter of time before it becomes a reality, with 2019 identified as a possible production year.

2. Plants vs Zombies
2009 was a golden year for mobile gaming, with two games becoming notably successful for blending action and strategy to great effect. Plants vs Zombies and Angry Birds quickly became addictive sensations. With regards to film adaptations, the only real surprise was that it took until 2016 for the Angry Birds Movie to be commissioned.

Like its “rival” game, the Plants vs Zombies franchise remains extremely popular, with a sequel and multiple merchandise, including official scratchcards and toys. In fact, it can even be found as a slot at online casinos including Skybet, which offers risk-free bonuses for its themed slots. Traditionally, the slot machine tends to follow film developments, but this time it came before the film. Still, there is evidently faith that a film adaptation of the game will come sooner rather than later. With the game already boasting a glut of cutscenes, a movie adaptation is surely inevitable.

The delay in development could be explained by a simple dilemma, which faces anyone who attempts to write a screenplay: how to make this possible movie as unlike Angry Birds Movie as possible. The Angry Birds Movie was, after all, not entitled “Birds vs Pigs” – even though that is the basic premise – and begins with the ill-judged decision of the bird community to integrate with untrustworthy pigs. A more familiar setting, such as a front lawn – as opposed to a tropical island, may be a worthy place to start for the hypothetical Plants vs Zombies movie.

Regardless, the road ahead for any writer will be long and arduous, although (potentially) extremely rewarding at the end.

3. Candy Crush Saga
Candy Crush remains as popular and addictive as ever – so much so that it is even referenced in The Emoji Movie. With the game famously comprising of six colored “candies” and an array of power ups, would-be screenplay writers for any Candy Crush movie would need to rack their brains like never before. As already noted, much of the success enjoyed by the original Inside Out film stemmed from the establishment of familiar emotional ground, between the target audience and the protagonist.

As such, one possible plotline could involve that of an individual candy, perhaps of a seventh color not seen in the game. Said candy could be striving to become “striped” (one of the game’s most common power-ups) and therefore highly popular, despite its unusual appearance.

The game’s power-ups, as shown above, are the backbone to its addictiveness and popularity.
Alternatively, a writer could opt to focus on the world outside the game, and revolve the film’s plot around an expert gamer, although only hardcore fans of the game could ever truly relate to such a plot.

Final Thought
Should The Emoji Movie prove a success at the box office, then it will provide other animation directors and studios with the inspiration to build upon it with other app & social media themed films. Risking professional credibility on such a specific (and relatively new) form of communication is always a gamble. However, it is one – for better or worse – from which the ever-growing industry of animated film will learn much.

Adrian Hodgkiss

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