Netflix wants to dominate the animation landscape, and they’re working with some of Disney’s top talent to do just that.
Netflix recently announced that they want to produce six animated feature films per year from a variety of studios around the world, and the goal is to knock Disney out of the top spot.
Over the Moon is being released to Netflix later this month, and if the art style looks familiar to Disney animation fans, it’s because it’s being spearheaded by the legendary Glen Keane.
While Keane needs no introduction to fans of Disney animation, the general moviegoing public will know those expressive eyes from classic films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.
Over the Moon also features another Pixar-Disney alum in the co-pilot’s seat, John Kahrs.
The film is getting generally positive buzz, with The Guardian saying it was “more Disney than Disney.”
Watch your back, Disney; here comes Netflix in Hollywood studio mode, flexing its ambition with an animated family fantasy adventure about a sunny, 13-year-old girl called Fei Fei who flies to the moon in a homemade rocket.
It seems that Netflix is getting deathly serious about animation, the genre that literally built The Walt Disney Company. In addition to the announcement of the animation ramp up, Netflix has recently signed a lease on a massive “animation compound” in Burbank… Disney’s backyard.
And I fully expect them to keep poaching Disney talent as the company aggressively moves into this space.
Also remember, Pixar legend John Lasseter is still out there prepping multiple productions for Skydance, after being ousted from Disney for fairly nebulous reasons.
Lasseter almost single-handedly ushered in a golden age of 3D animation at Pixar and Disney, and he’s working for “the enemy” now.
The thing is, a lot of Disney vets might be more than up for a change of pace as Disney isn’t the company it once was. Innovation has given way to endless sequels and remakes, and the most creative of Disney’s staff is probably feeling stifled.
But steel sharpens steel, and this push into animation can only make other studios like Disney and Dreamworks up the quality of their output to stay in the game.
The question is, however, who will come out on top? Could Disney lose serious ground to Netflix the way they did to Don Bluth in the 1980s?
Either way, it’ll be a good time to be an animation fan. The pandemic could have the unintentional side effect of ushering in another “golden age” of animation on streaming platforms, as animated productions keep moving forward when live-action productions have been forced to shut down.
Grab some popcorn.