Netflix reveals new details on animated titles with Skydance

FILE PHOTO: Netflix logo shown on building in Los Angeles

By Danielle Broadway

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Netflix on Thursday shared new details about upcoming animated films “Spellbound” and “Pookoo,” which were made in partnership with Skydance Animation.

“Spellbound” is about Ellian, the young daughter of the rulers of Lumbria, and she has a secret…a mysterious spell has turned her parents into monsters,” said “The Lion King” actor Nathan Lane during the streaming platform’s “Netflix on Netflix Animation” preview in Los Angeles.

Ellian summons the mysterious Oracles of the Sun and Moon to come to help her break the spell.

The film is directed by Vicky Jensen, whose credits include the DreamWorks Animated film, "Shrek." She is joined by Academy Award winning composer Alan Menken known for working on countless Disney hits, including “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Actors Rachel Zegler, Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, John Lithgow, and Jenifer Lewis will also voice in the film, which will be released on the service on November 22.

The new animated releases signal Netflix's increased investment in such family friendly content as well as adult content, which have been found to help retain subscribers. It's also consistent with the company's broad programming strategy of creating something to satisfy all tastes.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos last year said the company planned to increase its spending on animated content in 2024, because it is among the most re-watched on the service.

Feature films like "Leo" and "The Sea Beast" were successful with subscribers, motivating Netflix to add more, including another installment of "Arcane," based on the online multi-player game "League of Legends" as well as another installment of the "Wallace & Gromit" films.

Additionally, Netflix highlighted its TV slate at the preview event, including the final season of "Big Mouth" and news that Timothy Olyphant will serve as the voice for the Terminator in the upcoming title "Terminator Zero."

“Pookoo” is the second film produced under a multi-year agreement with Netflix and Skydance. The movie, which is still in development, 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.

“Tangled” director Nathan Greno will be taking the lead for “Pookoo,” along with other animation veterans “Toy Story producer John Lasseter and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” producer Mary Ellen Bauder.

The film scheduled for release in 2025.

Lasseter, Disney's former chief creative officer and the creative force behind Pixar Animation Studios, will guide production of the films. He left Disney in 2018, following allegations of unwanted workplace hugging.

Lasseter began working at Skydance Animation in 2019 after taking a leave of absence from Disney in 2017.

(Reporting by Danielle Broadway; Editing by David Gregorio)