Source: Netflix

The cohort of filmmakers with Netflix Animation projects in the Annecy showcase

Animated duos Wallace and Gromit, and Asterix and Obelix were among the highlights from the Next on Netflix presentation at Annecy film festival this afternoon, to a packed audience of animation aficionados.

A 90-minute session was hosted by producer and Casarotto Ramsay & Associates managing director Anna Higgs.

Higgs welcomed guests including Aardman’s Nick Park and Merlin Crossingham, to talk about Wallace & Gromit: Vengeance Most Fowl, which the duo have co-directed and will be released in the UK on Christmas Day on BBC One, alongside a global winter rollout on Netflix.

The Annecy veterans received a rapturous reception from the crowd, and presented a world-first clip from the upcoming film. As well as the titular duo, characters included returning popular villain Feathers McGraw, shown doing pull-ups on a bar in prison; and a new character Norbot, a smart gnome that can complete tasks and is Wallace’s latest invention.

The team, including Park himself, acted out the full film in a “live-action” version, which helped guide the animators.

“We don’t want the animators to copy it and it be realistic. We can just point out the bits we want, how big and small the gestures – trying to get the gags to land before we shoot it,” said Park.

French animation stalwarts Alain Chabat and Fabrice Joubert received a positive reception to a first clip from upcoming series Asterix & Obelix: The Big Fight, landing on Netflix in 2025. “It’s been a fantastic journey so far, but we are not done yet – which is good news,” said Chabat, who is creator of the series and co-director with Joubert.

Shrek co-director Vicky Jenson was present to showcase her upcoming feature Spellbound, with a voice cast including Rachel Zegler, John Lithgow, Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem. The film will launch on Netflix on November 22, 2024; it has previously been under the Paramount Pictures and Apple banners, until producer Skydance Animation ended its Apple deal and signed a multi-year pact with Netflix in October last year.

Jenson presented a sneak peek from the film, which sees princess Ellian go on a quest to save her parents, the rulers of the kingdom of Lumbria, who have turned into monsters via a mysterious spell. “You know me for a modern take on a fairytale I did 20 years ago [Shrek],” said Jenson. “This is more of a fairytale take on a modern story.”

Snyder’s Gods

Higgs also welcomed showrunners Zack Snyder and Deborah Snyder, Xilam Animation’s art director Slimane Aniss and executive producer Jay Oliva for a discussion on their upcoming series Twilight Of The Gods, which launches on Netflix on September 19 this year.

“It came as the animated idea in its genesis,” said Zack Snyder. “It’s awesome that it was Norse, and gods and scale and insanity. We were in the right area as far as being animated – it was a natural fit.”

It is a first fully animated project for Snyder since 2010 feature Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. “The process before shooting – storyboarding and layout – I like that part of the process when I make a live-action film,” said Snyder. For animation, “it’s an amazingly pure straight from brain-to-animation process.”

Further clips in the Netflix showcase included The Twits, the first animated feature in the streamer’s deal with the Roald Dahl estate, based on Dahl’s novel about a nasty couple who run an idiotic amusement park. Margo Martindale, Johnny Vegas, Natalie Portman and Emilia Clarke are among the voice cast.

A separate work-in-progress showcase was held yesterday (Tuesday 11) for Simon Otto’s That Christmas, written by Richard Curtis, which tells a trilogy of stories from Curtis’ children’s books. Produced by Locksmith Animation, the film will launch on Netflix in December 2024.

There was significant applause in the room for two further projects: Shannon Tindle’s feature Ultraman: Rising, which has its world premiere this evening in Annecy before debuting on Netflix this Friday; and the second season of steampunk action-adventure Arcane, which has Hailee Steinfeld and Ella Purnell among its voice cast.

A Wallace & Gromit exhibition featuring select puppets from Aardman’s new film is being held in the main Bonlieu venue at Annecy.