Skydance Animation has found a new home at Netflix, ending a distribution deal with Apple Studios that the studio signed in 2021. It included Skydance’s CG-animated feature film Luck, which premiered on Apple TV+ last year.
However, an upcoming animated series, The Search for WondLa, is still headed to Apple TV+, according to The Hollywood Reporter – THR. And parent company Skydance Media will continue its partnership with Apple for live-action features. The first project on Netflix is the feature Spellbound (pictured above) scheduled for next year.
This news fits with Netflix’s new animation strategy, which appears to be shifting from in-house productions, and towards third-party acquisitions. Last week, the streamer cut jobs at its in-house animation studio and hit stop on two projects, this even after winning Netflix its first best animated feature Oscar for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and a primetime Emmy for Arcane.
Skydance Animation is a Santa Monica based animation studio that is a division of Skydance Media, founded in 2017. Skydance Media itself was founded by David Ellison in 2006. His sister Megan also founded a successful studio, Annapurna Pictures, established in 2011. They are powerhouses in film, with deals worth hundreds of millions and winning awards.
Netflix says animation is still important to its future programing. In a financial report it released this week, the streamer spoke of animated films and TV series as a major part of its programming—a view that was echoed by co-CEO Ted Sarandos in an earnings interview: “There’s a lot of appetite for animated features, and we’re committed to this part of the business.”
Both streamers have existing relationships with Skydance Media, so the change in studio isn’t new territory. Netflix has released Skydance’s The Adam Project, Heart of Stone and The Old Guard, along with the series FUBAR, Altered Carbon and Grace and Frankie. Apple+ has Foundation, The Big Door Prize (a fantasy comedy), and the feature Luck.
Spellbound is an animated musical with an all-star cast directed by Vicky Jenson (Shrek) from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast), Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin with music composed by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast), who wrote the songs with longtime collaborator Glenn Slater (Tangled). Produced by Skydance Animation, the film features the voices of Rachel Zegler (West SIde Story), Nicole Kidman (Aquaman), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), John Lithgow (3rd Rock), Jenifer Lewis (Cars), and Nathan Lane (Lion King). Set in the world of magic known as Lumbria, the story follows Princess Ellian (Zegler), a young girl who must break the spell that has divided her kingdom in two.
A first look at Spellbound. (Not related to the Hitchcock classic from the 40s)
Official summary and Trailer
“Spellbound follows the adventures of Ellian, the tenacious princess who must go on a daring quest to save her family and kingdom after a mysterious spell transforms her parents, the King and Queen of Lumbria, into monsters.”
Work on Spellbound began in 2017, and its release has changed several times. It looks like 2024 now. Future Skyadance films include Ray Gunn, directed by Brad Bird and an untitled Jack and the Beanstalk project directed by Rich Moore.
David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.