Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Schigadoon!”) has joined the cast of Skydance Animation and Apple’s “Spellbound.” The film, announced in 2017 initially under the title “Split,” stars Rachel Zegler as Princess Ellian who must manage her kingdom after a spell turns the king and queen into monsters.
Zegler and Burgess will be joined by Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, John Lithgow, Jenifer Lewis and Nathan Lane. It will be directed by Vicky Jenson (“Shrek”) with new songs by Alan Menkin and Glenn Slater. Penned by Lauren Kynek and Elizabeth Martin alongside Linda Woolverton, “Spellbound” is produced by John Lasseter, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Bruce Anderson for Skydance Animation.
Jenson and Head of Story Brian Pimental will present a “work in progress” panel on Tuesday, June 13 at the Annecy Film Festival. The film is slated for release in 2024, although there is no word as to whether it will have a more aggressive theatrical release than “Luck” in 2022.
That film, which was supposed to launch Skydance Animation as a rival to Pixar, including hiring the former head of Pixar John Lasseter (who left in 2017 following allegations of inappropriate behavior) earned generally negative reviews upon release.
Whether or not bringing Lasseter aboard can help shape Skydance Animation into a major player in the animation sandbox, either for theatrical or on the streaming front, “Spellbound” will arrive amid a challenging time for new and original animated films. Kids and families have more entertainment options than ever, be it theaters, streaming platforms or the never-ending YouTube content empire.
If Skydance Animation wants to stand out from the crowd, it will have to be because their movies are better than most of their respective competition. That they are screening work-in-progress footage this week is cause for optimism. Opting to eventually splurge for a more conventional theatrical component would be another.