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Netflix Reveals Animation Release Slate for 2021

Streaming giant announces projects from Aardman, DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon, and Sony Pictures Animation, among others, set for release this year.

There’s plenty of animation coming your way via streaming giant Netflix, who today revealed a slate of animated specials, limited series, and features they plan to release in 2021. With their recent 170,000 square foot Burbank studio lease in hand and new deals with anime studios and properties, the streaming giant continues to bet big on animated fair for all audiences.

Here’s a breakdown of today’s 2021 release reveal:         

A Winter’s Tale from Shaun the Sheep

Director: Steve Cox
Writer: Giles Pilbrow based on a story by Giles Pilbrow, Mark Burton
Producer: Richard Beek

Prolific U.K. studio Aardman has a number of projects in the works with Netflix, including a Chicken Run sequel announced last summer as well as this new 2021 Christmas short announced last year. In this new 30-minute animated special, the world’s favorite sheep stars in his very own winter’s tale. Shaun's seasonal excitement turns to dismay when a farmhouse raid to get bigger stockings for the Flock inadvertently leads to Timmy going missing. Can Shaun get Timmy back before he becomes someone else’s present? Prepare for a ‘Santastic’ adventure as everyone learns the true value of Christmas! The special will premiere on Netflix in the US, Latin America, Spain, CIS, and Greece late next year. The BBC will premiere the film in the UK. 

Back to the Outback

Directors: Clare Knight, Harry Cripps
Writer: Harry Cripps
Producer: Daniela Mazzucato
Voice Cast: Isla Fisher, Tim Minchin, Eric Bana, Guy Pearce, Miranda Tapsell, Angus Imrie, Rachel House, Keith Urban, Celeste Barber, Wayne Knight, Aislinn Derbez, Diesel Cash La Torraca, Lachlan Power, and Jacki Weaver

This animated feature film comedy adventure marks the directorial debuts of filmmakers Clare Knight and Harry Cripps. Daniela Mazzucato produces, and Weed Road Pictures’ Akiva Goldsman and Greg Lessans are executive producing. The animation and imagery are being produced by ReelFX.

Tired of being locked in a reptile house where humans gawk at them like they’re monsters, a ragtag group of Australia’s deadliest creatures plot a daring escape from their zoo to the Outback, a place where they’ll fit in without being judged for their scales and fangs. Leading the group is Maddie (Isla Fisher), a poisonous snake with a heart of gold, who bands together with a self-assured Thorny Devil lizard Zoe (Miranda Tapsell), a lovelorn hairy spider Frank (Guy Pearce), and a sensitive scorpion Nigel (Angus Imrie). But when their nemesis — Pretty Boy (Tim Minchin), a cute but obnoxious koala — unexpectedly joins their escape, Maddie and the gang have no choice but to take him with them. So begins a hair-raising and hilarious road trip across Australia, as they are pursued by a zookeeper Chaz (Eric Bana) and his adventure-seeking mini-me (Diesel Cash La Torraca). Directed by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps, and also featuring the voices of Rachel House, Keith Urban, Celeste Barber, Wayne Knight, Lachlan Power, and Jacki Weaver, Back to the Outback is an animated adventure that proves just because something’s different, doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful.

Maya and the Three

Director: Jorge Gutiérrez
Creator / Showrunner: Jorge Gutiérrez
Co-Executive Producer: Silvia Olivas
Head of Story: Jeff Ranjo
Production Designer: Paul Sullivan

This past October, Netflix announced an expanded original content development partnership with Jorge Gutiérrez (The Book of Life, El Tigre), the Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated animator, painter, writer, and director, and his production company Mexopolis; the new deal calls for Gutierrez to write, direct, and produce new animated films, series and interactive projects across preschool, kids & family and adult animation. 

Maya and the Three is an animated limited series created, written, and directed by Gutiérrez. Set in a mythical Mesoamerican inspired world, a warrior princess embarks on a quest to recruit three legendary fighters to help save the world of men and gods. Silvia Olivas (Elena of Avalor) is co-writer and co-executive producer, Jeff Ranjo (Moana) is head of story, and Paul Sullivan (The Book of Life) is production designer.

The Loud House Movie 

Director: Dave Needham
Writers: Kevin Sullivan, Chris Viscardi
Produced By: Nickelodeon
Voice Cast: Asher Bishop, Michelle Gomez, David Tennant, Grey Griffin, Jill Talley, Brian Stepanek, Jessica DiCicco, Liliana Mumy, Cristina Pucelli, Nika Futterman, Lara Jill Miller, Andre Robinson, Cat Taber, Katy Townsend, Carlos PenaVega, and Izabella Alvarez

Back in 2019, Nickelodeon and Netflix inked a multi-year deal to produce original animated features and TV series for kids and families. The deal called for the two companies to develop content based on Nickelodeon’s library of characters as well as new IP, expanding upon a relationship that already saw Netflix stream the animated specials Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling and Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus earlier that year. Projects based on The Loud House and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were said to be in development.

In Nickelodeon’s The Loud House Movie, the biggest family on television goes on the biggest Loud family vacation ever! The adventure follows the Loud family to Scotland where they discover that they are descendants of Scottish royalty. The family quickly indulges in the most wish-fulfilling high-life ever when they discover their ancestral home is a castle.

Wish Dragon

Director: Chris Appelhans
Writer: Chris Appelhans
Producers: Aron Warner, Chris Bremble, Jackie Chan
Voice Cast: John Cho, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jimmy Wong, Constance Wu, Will Yun Lee, Jimmy O’Yang, Aaron Yoo, Bobby Lee, and Ronnie Chieng

Way back in 2016, AWN talked with director Chris Appelhans about his new film, which at the time, marked the first foray into animated features by Chris Bremble’s Chinese VFX studio, Base FX. In 2018, Jackie Chan and Constance Wu joined the English voice cast, with Sony Pictures Animation on board for international distribution. SPA announced their involvement with the film during their 2019 Annecy festival production slate reveal.

In Sony Pictures Animation’s Wish Dragon, Din, a working-class college student with big dreams but small means, and Long, a cynical but all-powerful dragon capable of granting wishes, set off on a hilarious adventure through modern day Shanghai in pursuit of Din's long-lost childhood friend, Lina. Their journey forces them to answer some of life's biggest questions – because when you can wish for anything, you have to decide what really matters.

Robin Robin      

Directors: Dan Ojari, Mikey Please
Writers: Dan Ojari, Mikey Please, Sam Morrison
Producer: Helen Argo
Voice Cast: Gillian Anderson, Richard E Grant, Bronte Carmichael, Adeel Akhtar

Dan Ojari and Mikey Please are at the helm of a stop-motion holiday musical animated special, the first ever produced at Aardman. When her egg fortuitously rolls into a rubbish dump, Robin is raised by a loving family of mice. As she grows up, her differences become more apparent. Robin sets off on the heist to end all heists to prove to her family that she can be a really good mouse – but ends up discovering who she really is.

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie    

Directors: Ant Ward, Andy Suriano
Writers: Tony Gama-Lobo, Rebecca May
Produced By: Nickelodeon
Voice Cast: Ben Schwartz, Omar Benson Miller, Brandon Mychal Smith, Josh Brener, Kat Graham, Eric Bauza, and Haley Joel Osment

Back in early 2019, Nickelodeon announced two new animated features in production based on The Loud House and their reimagined 2D animated series, Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which had debuted in 2018. In Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie, the Ninja Turtles are faced with their greatest challenge yet when a mysterious stranger arrives from the future with a dire warning. Leo is forced to rise and lead his brothers, Raph, Donnie, and Mikey in a fight to save the world from a terrifying alien species…the Krang!

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans

Directors: Johane Matte, Francisco Ruiz Velasco, Andrew L. Schmidt
Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman
Producers: Guillermo del Toro, Marc Guggenheim, Chad Hammes, Dan Hageman, and Kevin Hageman
Voice Cast: Emile Hirsch, Lexi Medrano, Charlie Saxton, Kelsey Grammer, Alfred Molina, Steven Yeun, Nick Frost, Colin O'Donoghue, Diego Luna, Tatiana Maslany, Cole Sand, Nick Offerman, Fred Tatasciore, Brian Blessed, Kay Bess, Piotr Michael, James Hong, Tom Kenny, Angel Lin, Amy Landecker, Jonathan Hyde, Bebe Wood, Laraine Newman, Grey Griffin, and Cheryl Hines

Last August 7, Netflix announced Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro and DreamWorks Animation were continuing to expand their ambitious Trollhunters world and partnership with a brand-new animated feature, Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans, set in the Emmy Award-winning Tales of Arcadia world, coming to Netflix in 2021; that was the same day del Toro’s final Tales of Arcadia chapter, Wizards, premiered on the streaming giant.

In DreamWorks’ Trollhhunters: Rise of the Titans, Arcadia may look like an ordinary town, but it lies at the center of magical and mystical lines that makes it a nexus for many battles among otherworldly creatures including trolls, aliens, and wizards. Now the heroes from the hit series Trollhunters, 3Below and Wizards, team-up in their most epic adventure yet where they must fight the Arcane Order for control over the magic that binds them all.

Arlo the Alligator Boy

Executive Producer / Director: Ryan Crego
Supervising Producer: Blake Lemons
Composer: Alex Geringas
Voice Cast: Michael J. Woodard (Arlo), Mary Lambert (Bertie), Michael "Flea" Balzary of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Ruff), Annie Potts (Edmee), Tony Hale (Teeny Tiney Toney), Brett Gelman (Marcellus), Jonathan Van Ness (Furlecia), Haley Tju (Alia), Jennifer Coolidge (Stucky) and Vincent Rodriguez III (Ansel Beauregard)

The past November, Netflix announced a new 2D animated movie musical, Arlo the Alligator Boy, to be followed-up by a 20 x 11 min. series, I ️️Arlo, both from creator Ryan Crego (Adventures with Tip & OhPuss in BootsShrek Forever After).

Upon learning that he is from New York City, a wide-eyed boy, who is half human and half alligator, decides to leave his sheltered life in the swamp and search for his long-lost father. The animated musical movie, Arlo the Alligator Boy, will launch Arlo’s journey as he meets a group of misfits who quickly become his new family. Once Arlo’s adventure lands him in New York City, the series will kick off as he and his newfound crew set up shop in an abandoned seaside neighborhood and help bring it back to life. 

Source: Netflix

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.