Often, Netflix doesn’t announce its new projects until shortly before their release. It has the luxury of making surprise releases for an audience that is always hungry for new content. Today, though, the streaming company announced a four-year plan for upcoming animated series, which brings it more in line with traditional animation studios like Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks. Because the lead time on animated projects is so lengthy, most of the big studios publicize their release plans years in advance. Now, Netflix is following suit.
The plans read like a who’s who of successful animators, directors, and executive producers who have worked on everything from The Little Mermaid to Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. “The programming is designed to meet the tastes of every member of the family — from preschoolers to kids to parents and their children together so that families everywhere can find something that fits their unique DNA,” Netflix’s press release says. Given the press release’s statistics — it says 60 percent of all Netflix users watch some sort of family-oriented content every month — an increased focus on making that content seems in line with Netflix’s original content goals.
The roster includes Maya and The Three (2021), an animated series about a warrior princess where Jeff Ranjo (Moana) is the head of story; My Father’s Dragon (2021), a 2D animated movie written by Meg LeFauve (Inside Out) where a youngster tries to find a mythical beast; Go! Go! Cory Carson (2019), an animated show based on toys for preschoolers, with Alex Woo (Wall-E, Ratatouille) and Stanley Moore (Finding Dory, Monsters University) acting as executive producers; Kid Cosmic (2020), a show produced by Craig McCracken (The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) where a child has his dream of becoming a superhero come true; Trash Truck (2020), an animated series executive produced by Glen Keane (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast) where a kid with an overactive imagination has a trash truck as a best friend; and The Willoughbys (2020), a stylized film written by Kris Pearn (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2) where abandoned children have to adapt to the modern world.
These new shows and films join a wider list of already-announced productions that include Jacob and the Sea Beast (2022), a CG film written by Chris Williams (Moana, Big Hero 6, Bolt), Klaus (2019); a 2D movie written by Sergio Pablos (Despicable Me); Mighty Little Bheem (2019), a preschool series coming from Rajiv Chilaka (Chhota Bheem); and Pinocchio (2021), an animated film by Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water).
Netflix also recently announced that it will debut some features in movie theaters ahead of their online release dates in an open attempt to legitimize its film releases for industry awards. Between these two announcements, it seems that the company is slowly adopting standard film industry practices in a growing attempt to refocus and rebrand itself as an entertainment conglomerate that can compete with traditional studios.