Skydance Animation Shocker: Entire Film Slate Exits Apple for Netflix

“Spellbound” and Brad Bird’s “Ray Gunn” are among the projects that are migrating to a new streaming home

Spellbound
Skydance Animation/Netflix

In a shocking move, Skydance Animation has inked a multiyear agreement with Netflix to develop and produce animation features that will be released directly on Netflix. According to the release, the deal also brings Skydance’s full existing animated feature slate exclusively to Netflix.

The move comes only two years after a wide-ranging partnership between Skydance Animation and Apple TV+ was announced, following Apple’s acquisition of Skydance Animation’s “Luck.” That deal was meant to include both television and features. (The Netflix release doesn’t mention television series.)

“Spellbound,” a high-concept musical fantasy from director Vicky Jenson, will be the first film released under the pact, in 2024. The movie features a score by composer Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater and an all-star voice cast led by Rachel Zegler, Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, John Lithgow, Jenifer Lewis, Nathan Lane and Tituss Burgess. The movie was previewed at this year’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival and seems like a winning blend of humor and heart, with Zegler playing a princess whose parents are transformed into monsters.

“Pookoo,” directed by “Tangled” filmmaker Nathan Greno, will arrive in 2025. According to the news release, the movie is a “buddy comedy about a small woodland creature and a majestic bird, two natural sworn enemies of The Valley, that magically trade places and set off on an adventure of a lifetime.”

The announcement also states that future films from the studio will include “Ray Gunn,” the latest feature from director Brad Bird; and an untitled “Jack and the Beanstalk” project (at one time referred to as “Gothic”) directed by Rich Moore. We had heard both movies faced major hurdles at Apple, so it’s nice that they are now safe at Netflix.

Former Pixar head John Lasseter will continue to head Skydance Animation and its creative vision along with the President of Skydance Animation, Holly Edwards.

Netflix’s feature animation output has been pretty unimpeachable. Their first feature, “Klaus,” was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. And since then they have cultivated a robust slate, including Richard Linklater’s “Apollo 10 ½,” the Sony co-production “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” and last year’s Oscar-winning stop-motion marvel “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.”

Their nimbleness and willingness to partner with outside studios has made them a unique force in the animation marketplace, with several upcoming projects from Aardman (“Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget”), DreamWorks (“Orion and the Dark”) and Sony (“K-Pop: Demon Hunters”), with more on the way, along with projects developed in-house like “Leo” and next year’s “Ultraman Rising” (which features animation from Industrial Light & Magic), with a sequel to last year’s Oscar-nominated “The Sea Beast” also on the way. This partnership with Skydance Animation makes total sense and ensures that Netflix Animation’s output will be robust.

Skydance’s animation unit was formed in 2017, with the offices in Los Angeles and the animation studio in Madrid. Their first feature, Peggy Holmes’ “Luck,” was released last year.

Comments

2 responses to “Skydance Animation Shocker: Entire Film Slate Exits Apple for Netflix”

  1. cadavra Avatar
    cadavra

    Not giving a theatrical release to a Brad Bird feature is deeply offensive as well as foolish.

  2. RPLA Avatar

    Are there any interactive features or community engagement opportunities for readers on TheWrap’s website, such as forums or comments sections for discussions about entertainment news?

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