Skydance Animation, led by John Lasseter and President Holly Edwards, is switching its distribution home from Apple Studios to Netflix. Under this new arrangement, Skydance Animation will exclusively release its animated films directly to Netflix for several years, and the studio’s existing slate will also move exclusively to the streaming platform. The first film to make the transition will be “Spellbound,” featuring Rachel Zegler and Tituss Burgess, which is now set for a 2024 release on Netflix, followed by “Pookoo” in 2025. Upcoming projects include “Ray Gunn,” directed by Brad Bird, and an untitled Jack and the Beanstalk project directed by Rich Moore. The agreement with Netflix doesn’t seem to include theatrical releases.
While the animation deal is changing, Apple and Skydance will continue their partnership on live-action films and series, including productions involving Mark Wahlberg and Anya Taylor-Joy. Both streaming platforms have existing relationships with Skydance Media.
This shift comes at a time when Netflix’s own animation division is reorganizing and seeking output deals to maintain a robust offering of kids and family content. The collaboration between David Ellison’s Skydance and Apple had been a lucrative deal, and it included both animation and live-action films. However, “Spellbound” didn’t fit Apple’s expanding narrative slate, leading to its move to Netflix. The terms of the original deal were reported to be among the most generous for a producer in the streaming era, guaranteeing Skydance two films per year with significant budgets.
This move represents a significant change in the streaming landscape, with Netflix securing exclusive rights to a prominent animation studio. It demonstrates the fierce competition for high-quality content between major streaming services.