Netflix Unveils Slate of Upcoming Animation Projects, Including New ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Movie and ‘Ultraman’

Also unveiled: the full cast of this summer’s “Nimona”


Netflix’s animated output is certainly having a moment, between the Best Animated Feature win for Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio” and the acquisition of Animal Logic, the Australian animation studio that had previously been responsible for “Happy Feet,” “The Lego Movie” and “DC League of Super-Pets” (among many others). The streamer has just unveiled its 2023-2024 slate, revealing new details about upcoming projects like “Nimona” and announcing new movies like “Saving Bikini Bottom: The Sandy Cheeks Movie,” a brand-new “SpongeBob SquarePants” film.

Read on for the full rundown of Netflix’s upcoming animated films and see brand-new images.


“Nimona” (Netflix)

Coming this summer is “Nimona,” based on the graphic novel by ND Stevenson and set in a futuristic yet still medieval world, it centers around a disgraced knight (Riz Ahmed) and a young shapeshifter (Chloë Grace Moretz) who team up to clear both of their names. We’d know about Moretz and Ahmed for a while now; they were part of the project when it was still a Blue Sky Studios film (before the Disney acquisition). But what we didn’t know was the rest of the cast, which also includes Eugene Lee Yang, Frances Conroy, Lorraine Toussaint, Beck Bennett, RuPaul Charles, Indya Moore, Julio Torres and Sarah Sherman aka Sarah Squirm (she’s been a recent “Saturday Night Live” standout). This new iteration of “Nimona” is directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane.

“The Monkey King”

The Monkey King
“The Monkey King” (Netflix)

Also coming this summer is “The Monkey King.” Executive produced by the great Stephen Chow, who tackled similar material with 2013’s excellent “Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons,” it is based on Chinese folklore, features a lot of monsters and stars immy O. Yang, Bowen Yang, Jolie Hoang-Rappaport, Jo Koy, Ron Yuan, Hoon Lee, Stephanie Hsu, Andrew Pang, Andrew Kishino, Jodi Long, James Sie and BD Wong. Anthony Stacchi, who directed Laika’s “The Boxtrolls” and worked on “Missing Link” and del Toro’s “Pinocchio” in the years since, directed “The Monkey King” (which is computer animated, we should add).


“Leo” (Netflix)

This fall sees the release of “Leo,” a new animated musical comedy from Adam Sandler and some of his “Hotel Transylvania” collaborators – Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel and David Wachtenheim. Sandler plays an elderly lizard who lives in a classroom. When he finds out he has a year to live and so hitches a ride with a student for one last adventure. Bill Burr, Cecily Strong, Jason Alexander, Rob Schneider, Sadie Sandler, Sunny Sandler, Jackie Sandler, Heidi Gardner, Nick Swardson, Nicholas Turturro, Robert Smigel, Jo Koy and Stephanie Hsu, with animation by Animal Logic.

“Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget”

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget
“Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget” (Netflix)

Also coming this fall is Aardman’s “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget,” a sequel to 2000’s “Chicken Run” (still the highest grossing stop-motion animated film of all time). If that original film was a riff on “The Great Escape,” this new film is inspired by movies like “Mission: Impossible.” Instead of breaking out, this time they’ve got to break in. Sam Fell, director of Laika’s incredible “ParaNorman” and a longtime Aardman vet, directs this time around. And the cast includes Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Bella Ramsey, Imelda Staunton, Lynn Ferguson, David Bradley, Jane Horrocks, Romesh Ranganathan, Daniel Mays, Josie Sedgwick-Davies, and Nick Mohammed.

Further out, in 2024, Netflix will release “In Your Dreams” from director Alex Woo and Berkley, California-based Kuku, about kids who travel into a dreamworld in an attempt to save their parents’ marriage.

2024 will also see the release of “Saving Bikini Bottom: The Sandy Cheeks Movie,” a live-action/animation hybrid that has everyone’s favorite squirrel teaming up with SpongeBob to travel to her native Texas and stop an evil scheme that could endanger all of Bikini Bottom. Directed by Liza Johnson, who just helmed an episode of “The Last of Us” (a similar vibe for sure), the movie features Carolyn Lawrence, Tom Kenny, Wanda Sykes, Clancy Brown, Bill Fagerbakke, Mr. Lawrence, Rodger Bumpass, Johnny Knoxville, Craig Robinson, Grey DeLisle, Ilia Isorelýs Paulino, Matty Cardarople. All of the “SpongeBob SquarePants” movies thus far have been absolutely delightful, why should this be any different?

“That Christmas”

Thelma the Unicorn
“Thelma the Unicorn” (Netflix)

“That Christmas,” based on the books by “Love, Actually” writer Richard Curtis (Curtis returned to write the screenplay) will be out in 2024 as well, directed by character animator and story artist Simon Otto, with animation by Locksmith and DNEG. “Thelma the Unicorn,” from “Napoleon Dynamite” filmmaker Jared Hess and Lynn Wang (a veteran of “Lego Movie” spinoff “Unikitty!”) about a horse that masquerades as a unicorn to chase her dreams of becoming a popstar, will also be out in 2024.


“Ultraman” (Netflix)

Perhaps most excitingly, 2024 will be when “Ultraman” makes its debut. Based on the beloved Japanese character, who originated on a live-action Japanese TV show in the late 1960’s, this new version comes from director Shannon Tindle, who recently made “Lost Ollie” for Netflix, and co-director John Aoshima, a veteran of “Gravity Falls” and the recent “DuckTales” reboot for Disney. The stunning animation was handled by Industrial Light & Magic, marking their first feature animation project since 2015’s “Strange Magic.” The very awesome synopsis follows: “Netflix’s ‘Ultraman’ follows baseball superstar Ken Sato as he returns to his home country of Japan to pick up the mantle of Earth-defending superhero Ultraman. He soon finds more than he bargained for when he’s forced to raise the offspring of his greatest foe. Ken must go on a heroic journey, balancing parenthood, his estranged father, and the relentless Kaiju Defense Force to rise beyond his ego and discover what it truly means to be Ultraman.” Yes please.