How Netflix Became the Unlikely King of Feature Animation

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By poaching top talent and being willing to work with other studios, the streamer built a winning formula in just half a decade.

Thanksgiving weekend featured an animation face-off between a titan of the industry, the 100-year-old Walt Disney Animation Studios, and a relative upstart, Netflix, which only started releasing its own animated features in 2019.

Disney’s holiday movie, “Wish,” was a musical extravaganza featuring the watercolor backgrounds of the studio’s past combined with cutting-edge CGI, while Netflix’s “Leo” was a more budget-conscious musical set in modern-day Florida.

It was a showdown of theatrical versus streaming, legacy studio versus blustery upstart, fairy tale versus contemporary storytelling. And the results were startling.

While “Wish” came in third at the box office with a disappointing $31.6


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