By Mia Galuppo
October 18, 2023
Skydance Animation has signed a multiyear pact with Netflix to develop and produce animated movies for the streamer. First up for release under the deal is Spellbound, a title that was previously set up at Apple, where Skydance Animation signed a pact in 2021. Now, the animation arm of the David Ellison-run studio has found a new streaming home at a time when Netflix is restructuring its animation efforts.
Apple and the John Lasseter-led Skydance Animation have parted ways, with the latter bringing its full existing animation slate to Netflix. In addition to Spellbound, which voice stars Rachel Zegler, Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem and features music from Alan Menkin, Netflix will release the once Apple-bound Pookoo from Tangled director Nathan Greno. Spellbound is due out in 2024, with Pookoo hitting the service a year later.
The Skydance and Netflix slate also includes Ray Gunn, directed by Pixar alum Brad Bird, and an untitled Jack and the Beanstalk project from Zootopia director Rich Moore.
Skydance continues its live-action feature film pact with Apple, signed in 2022, having worked with the streamer on the Chris Evans-fronted Ghosted and Peter Farrelly’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever. Additionally, Skydance’s The Search for WondLa, an animated series based on the books by Tony DiTerlizzi, will still debut on Apple. Skydance and Apple had previously released the animated feature Luck.
As for Netflix, the streamer has been rethinking its animation efforts as of late. As first reported by Variety, two Netflix features in preproduction were halted with layoffs in the animation division expected in the coming weeks, and outside deals (see: Skydance) are being looked at to fill in the gaps. The animation division, which has released films like Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning Pinocchio, The Sea Beast, The Mitchells vs. The Machines and Klaus, has been in a state of restructuring. Slightly over a year ago, Netflix Animation laid off 30 employees as it reassessed its efforts under head Karen Toliver.
“It’s a very long cycle of development and production, sometimes it can take a decade to deliver a really great animated feature film,” said Netflix co-chief Ted Sarandos on an earnings video on Wednesday, speaking about the Skydance Animation pact. “That deal helps us to complement the work that we’re doing,” adding “there’s a lot of appetite for animated features and we’re committed to that part of the business.”
Outside of animation, Skydance and Netflix have worked together on a multitude of projects, including action films The Old Guard and The Adam Project as well as series like FUBAR and Grace and Frankie.
Nathan Greno is represented by Verve and attorney Rob Szymanski.