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  • Chesirae Barbano

Netflix Embraces Animation

"The Willoughbys" (2020).

In a year of delayed live-action movies and shows, Netflix’s Co-CEO Ted Sarandos reveals the streaming giant’s intention to release six animated features a year. In an interview with Variety, he said “our animation ambition right now is not just to step up and be as big as someone who’s doing it today — we’re on a path to be releasing six animated features a year.”

Sarandos joined Netflix in 2000 as the Head of DVD Acquisitions and was promoted to Co-CEO in 2020. He is responsible for big multi-year production deals with Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy, and even the Obamas. In light of this ambitious goal for the company’s animation output, he said, “no one’s ever really done most of these functions at the scale that we’re doing, and the only way you could do that is to have a really trusted team, who will make decisions and take them seriously and own them.”

Traditional studios like Pixar and Dreamworks haven't had the output goal of six animated features in one year because the goal may reduce the opportunity to create franchises like Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda (CartoonBrew). Producing six animated features in a year brings up concerns about quality as animation features take years to produce. Animating 60 seconds to 90 seconds can take up to six to 12 weeks or more. Award winning Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse had one of the largest animation staff with 177 animators at one point and took 4 years to produce. Kung Fu Panda took about 4.5 years to make while Frozen 2 took about 4 years. Sources at Cartoon Brew have relieved these concerns, however, revealing that Netflix has been “rapidly putting animated features into production for the past three years” and “may reach the six-films-per-year goal as early as 2022.”

Netflix plans to diversify their animation output by employing multiple animation styles and studios. This new plan will add to the current slate of Netflix originals like The Willoughbys (2020), A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2020), and Klaus (2019). Netflix has already announced their plan to produce Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Adventure, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinnochio, Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon, and Henry Selick’s Wendell and WIld. in addition to the confirmed slate, the company’s unannounced slate is said to promote diversity with women directors and gives a chance to less established directors to make their mark on Netflix’s platform.


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