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How emojis came to Hollywood

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NewsHubOver the last few years, emojis have become a ubiquitous form of communication. The tiny digital icons, ION: needed? aren’t they on all smartphones? found on your smartphone keyboard and elsewhere , connect users and have become their own language. The original emojis, designed by Japanese mobile provider NTT DoCoMo and released in 1999, were even recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York
Clearly, we’re obsessed.
Not surprisingly, Hollywood has taken note. Exclusive emojis now accompany film releases and TV show premieres as part of studio and network marketing campaigns, and an emoji movie is scheduled for release by Sony Pictures Animation in the summer.
“As storytellers, we’re always trying to tell stories that really connect with people,” said Tony Leondis, director and co-writer of “The Emoji Movie.”
“We have this immediate connection to these little yellow guys that we send out as versions of ourselves. Billions of emojis are sent every day to share their love, their frustrations, their happiness, their lives with each other. It seemed like such a perfect landscape to tell a story.”
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It also helps that no one owns the rights to them. Because emojis are considered a font or a language, that means that anyone, including movie studios, can use them for any purpose at any time (MoMA acquired DoCoMo’s emojis through a licensing agreement). “You don’t have to get the rights to emojis,” Leondis said. “You just have to create your own version of emojis.”
For Leondis, who called it the “easiest sell I’ve ever made,” the movie is an opportunity to capitalize on our interest in these icons. He enlisted James Corden to voice the central character, Hi-5, and noted that Corden said yes right away. That’s possibly because Corden’s talk show, “The Late Late Show,” has a recurring segment called “Emoji News,” which recaps headlines using emojis for comedic effect.

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