A press release from Universal Pictures has confirmed this week that John Powell is writing the music for the upcoming animated feature The Lorax. The film based on the book by Dr. Seuss centers around a boy who searches for a way to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. He comes across the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. The film’s voice talent includes Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, Rob Riggle and Betty White. The movie is directed by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul (writers of Horton Hears a Who! and Despicable Me), as well as Chris Renaud (co-director of Despicable Me). The Lorax is the third feature from Illumination Entertainment after last year’s surprise hit Despicable Me (with music by Heitor Pereira and Pharrell Williams) and the upcoming Hop (scored by Christopher Lennertz). Powell has previously scored Blue Sky Studios’ Horton Hears a Who!, which was produced by Illumination founder Chris Meledandri and was also based on a Dr. Seuss book. Powell has also worked with Meledandri on Blue Sky’s Robots and Ice Age: The Meltdown. The Lorax is set to be released in 3D on March 2, 2012.

John Powell has four other animated projects coming up. Blue Sky Studios’ Rio directed by Carlos Saldhana and featuring the voice talent of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Leslie Mann, Tracy Morgan, George Lopez, Wanda Skyes and Will i Am is opening on April 15, 2011. As previously reported, two soundtrack releases for the film have already been announced, with the score album coming out on Varese Sarabande Records. More details about the score album will be posted soon.

Also coming up for Powell is the animation sequel Kung Fu Panda 2. As on the first part, Powell is co-scoring the movie with Hans Zimmer. In the sequel, Po joins forces with a group of new kung-fu masters to take on an old enemy with a deadly new weapon. The movie’s voice talent includes Jack Black , Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Gary Oldman, David Cross, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Liu, Michelle Yeoh, Dennis Haysbert, Victor Garber and Dustin Hoffman. The film marks the directorial feature debut of Jennifer Yuh who served as head of story on the first part. Dreamworks Animation will release Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D on May 26, 2011. To find out more about the movie, watch the newest trailer below and visit the official movie webpage.

Powell has also been working on the animation sequel Happy Feet 2 in 3D. The film is once again directed by George Miller and features the voice talent of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams and Hank Azaria. New additions to the voice cast include Pink (who is also expected to contribute a song to the film), Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. The film’s story centers on Mumble and Gloria who now have a son of their own who is struggling to find his own particular talents in the Emperor Penguin world. Warner Bros has set a November 18, 2011 release date for the movie.

Finally, Powell will also be back to score the fourth part in the Ice Age franchise entitled Ice Age: Continental Drift. The film is co-directed by Steve Martino (co-director of Horton Hears a Who!) and Mike Thurmeier (director of the previous Ice Age movie). The movie’s voice cast includes John Leguizamo, Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary and Sean William Scott. Powell previously scored the second (The Meltdown)  and third part (Dawn of the Dinosaurs) in the series. The original Ice Age was scored by composer David Newman. Ice Age: Continental Drift will be the second part coming out in 3D. The film is scheduled to be released on July 13, 2012 by 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios. Watch the official Ice Age movie webpage for updates on the film.