A jaw-dropping revelation: Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has teased the streamer’s plans to release six animated movies a year at some point in the near future. While the streamer has had some achievements in the animation category in the past, including scoring an Oscar nomination with the 2019 animated movie I Lost My Body, Netflix still hasn’t quite made a name for themselves in animation on par with their name-brand recognition in other areas, like original TV programming. So, what’s really going on here?
Let’s start with Sarandos’ comments to Variety in a recent interview on being selected to receive Variety’s Vanguard Award. While speaking with the trade publication, Sarandos turned his gaze toward Netflix’s future. In doing so, he teased ambitions for the streamer to churn out six animated original movies a year. And if you think I’m exaggerating, read Sarandos’ comments for yourself:
“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.”
Sarandos voicing a desire to do what no other major studio — Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, and so forth — is doing right now is admirable. And while I can appreciate that ambition, what Sarandos is hoping to achieve is, frankly, unfathomable. There is a reason we only get one, maybe two animated movies from major studios these days: Animated movies take a hella long time to make. We’re talking two years minimum if you want to achieve, say, what Pixar’s achieved (that’s still a tight turnaround) over the years. It’s a high bar to set when Netflix has a relatively limited footprint in original animated movies to date. Plus, does “six movies a year” hint at Netflix’s dream of creating animated franchises? Are we talking six one-off originals? And what kind of workforce are they hoping to assemble because we’re talking a hell of a lot of people to make six animated movies — unless Netflix plans to put it all on the shoulders of one team which is just as unfathomable.
If Netflix can hit this goal and churn out six movies a year which succeed in quality as well as quantity (something the streamer currently struggles with), then perhaps my skepticism will be relieved. But until then, I’ll be watching curiously from the sidelines.
Netflix’s next big animated movie, Over the Moon, hits the streamer on October 23. For more, check out our favorite animated movies you can watch on Netflix now.
Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.