Director Tony Leondis previews the new film, out in theaters Aug. 4, 2017

Good news for anyone who has sent a text message in the last year: Emojis now have a starring role in their own movie.

“When you’re trying to make an animated movie, the best thing is to find that familiar thing everyone’s familiar with but no one really thinks about in this way,” director Tony Leondis tells EW of the new film, which arrives in theaters next summer. “From my niece to my grandmother, they send emojis. It connects us. In this technological world, we still find ways to connect as human beings, and I think that’s what emojis do.”

The Emoji Movie follows Gene (T.J. Miller), a would-be emoji who has one big problem: He has too many expressions. In the world of Textopolis, everyone is assigned a single function. The Smiler, for instance, is always smiling. Gene is supposed to be a Meh emoji like his father (Steven Wright), seen in the teaser above, but he can’t constrain himself to one emotion.

Gene contains multitudes, and that makes him a malfunction. Soon enough, Gene sets out on an adventure with his friends Hi-5 (James Corden) and Jailbreak (Ilana Glazer), who have their own scores to settle. Hi-5, for his part, is angry about getting bumped out of the “most used” emoji section, and is determined to reclaim his rightful place.

“Gene is perfect for T.J. Miller, who’s an unstoppable personality brimming with exuberance and passion,” Leondis says. “As for Jailbreak, there’s really no hacker/codebreaker emoji, so who is she? That’s the mystery. Where did she come from? Which also has a lot to do with how women are portrayed in emoji sets. And she’s played by the great Ilana Glazer, who is bold and uncompromising. James Corden is the lovable Hi-5. He is so funny and he’s a little bit of a ham character. He’s like an aging rock star who wants to get back on top and still thinks he should be treated like royalty everywhere he goes. He’s amazing.”

Gene’s journey takes him and his friends across the landscape of the mobile phone, where every app is its own world. They’ll ride on the music streams of Spotify and struggle to play Candy Crush without blowing themselves up. They’ll also encounter a wide spectrum of emoji — not just the typical facial expressions, but also popular favorites like shrimp and poop.

In an announcement Tuesday, Sony Pictures Animation said it is teaming up with some of the most popular apps on your phone, like Candy Crush Saga, Dropbox, Instagram, Spotify, Twitter, and YouTube, to “bring The Emoji Movie to life in a way that every mobile user will recognize.” The teaser trailer will launch with these partners and others equaling a social footprint of nearly 700 million followers, the studio added. For the first 24 hours, the teaser is vertical and thus optimized for mobile viewing. An expanded version will debut in theaters on Wednesday.

The Emoji Movie hits theaters Aug. 4, 2017. Check out the teaser above and five new posters below.

The Emoji Movie
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