Netflix has become an unexpected hub for animated television, and now the streaming giant is looking to become the premiere place for animated feature films as well. Following the success of its first two animated films Klaus and The Willoughbys, with the former getting nominated for an Oscar, Netflix is gearing up to release six original animated feature films a year. That’s triple the amount of major animation studios like Pixar or Disney, which often release two films a year.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos revealed in an interview with Variety that the Netflix animated movies strategy is to release six original features a year — more than any other major animation studio:
“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, which no major studio has ever done, on top of the very healthy slate of animated series.
The way we think about those things is not to say, ‘Well, how do we do it like someone else has done it?’ Because 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.”
No other animation studio releases six animated features a year, with the biggest studios like Pixar and Disney averaging two films a year at most. But those more frequent releases also often coincide with a dip in quality, which will likely be the biggest issue for Netflix. Though as we’ve seen with Netflix’s release strategy of original titles, which exceed 700 original shows and movies each year, that probably isn’t a major concern for the streamer.
Netflix released its first original animated feature, Klaus, to critical acclaim and awards love last year. This year it will up the number to two: the April release The Willoughbys and the upcoming Over the Moon. But the numbers will start to escalate dramatically over the next few years, with Cartoon Brew reporting that Netflix may reach its six-films-per-year goal by early 2022.
The films from its forthcoming slate should be a clue: Netflix has announced high-profile projects like Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Adventure, Guillermo del Toro’s long-gestating Pinocchio, Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon, and Henry Selick’s Wendell and Wild. Cartoon Brew reports that even more features will be announced down the line with more women filmmakers and up-and-coming directors.
While Netflix came out of the gate strong with Klaus (which honestly deserves to be celebrated as new classic) and kept things going with the mostly okay The Willoughbys, so it hinges on Over the Moon on whether the streamer has promise as a premiere animated film studio. While the six-films-a-year number raises a bit of a red flag and suggests that Netflix’s continued strategy will prioritize quantity over quality, as long as they continue to give a platform to great filmmakers who maybe wouldn’t get the green light anywhere else (del Toro’s Pinocchio alone is enough to keep me subscribed) then maybe it will work out for the streamer.
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