Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment are firming up the voice cast for the animated sequel THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2, and there’s an unsurprising switcheroo in store for the lead role. Louis C.K. voiced protagonist Max in the 2016 smash hit, but Deadline reports that Patton Oswalt will now be taking over the role. The reasons are obvious: C.K. fessed up to sexual harassment last year and has largely been out of the public eye ever since, and Universal doesn’t exactly want to gamble with a franchise as valuable as this one.
Oswalt is a swell choice to fill the role, and the rest of the cast is pretty exciting as well. Harrison Ford will be taking his first animated voice role ever in the film, and while it’s unknown what kind of animal he’ll be playing, might I humbly suggest a turtle or grizzled old dog? Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, and Pete Holmes will provide other new voices alongside returning actors Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, and Bobby Moynihan.
Director Chris Renaud and writer Brian Lynch reprise their duties for this sequel, as the original SECRET LIFE OF PETS was something of a test balloon to see if Illumination could succeed outside the realm of the DESPICABLE ME franchise. The minions-focused movies were gargantuan hits, but SECRET LIFE OF PETS was technically original—the story of what pets do while their owners are at work; it’s really just TOY STORY but with cute animals instead of cute toys. The film grossed $875 million worldwide, and just a few months later Illumination’s Sing grossed $634 million, solidifying Illumination as an animation powerhouse to rival Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks Animation at the box office.
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 won’t hit theaters until June 7, 2019. Next up for Illumination is another “original” of sorts—THE GRINCH, which opens this November. Then the studio is on the sequel track with MINONS 2 and SING 2 both arriving in 2020. Beyond that, they’re obviously developing DESPICABLE ME 4, but Illumination is also spearheading a new animated SUPER MARIO film in coordination with Nintendo.