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[Annecy] Netflix Preview 'Orion and The Dark' 'Chicken Run 2' and More

This week is the Annecy International Animation Festival. Many of the biggest names in animation are there to share their future and in-production projects. Among them- Netflix.

Netflix's presentation has been a big deal for a number of years now. This year's panel was entitled From Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget to Blue Eye Samurai- See What's Next @ Netflix. This year's panel takes place after a monumental year for animation at Netflix, winning an Oscar, a BAFTA and several Emmys.

Announced earlier in the week at the DreamWorks Animation Panel, was Orion and The Dark which is a co-production between Netflix and DWA. Based on the book of the same name by Emma Yarlett, the film's screenplay is penned by acclaimed screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Anomalisa).  It features a young boy named Orion (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) who encounters the literal embodiment of his worst fear, "The Dark" voiced by Paul Walter Hauser. Orion must learn if he can open himself to the unknown and embrace the joy of living.

The film is targeting, a hand-drawn, illustrated look, and takes place outside Philadephia in the 90s. Sean Charmatz, storyboarder on Trolls World Tour, makes his directorial debut on the film. Peter McCown is a producer, and Bonnie Arnold and Walt Dohrn are executive producers.

The panel kicked off with a look at the coming-of-age musical comedy Leo. It featured an introduction by directors Robert Marianetti. Robert Smigel and David Wachtenheim. 

"It’s been a long journey for us, from making cartoons for grownups on Saturday Night Live to directing an animated musical about a class pet," the directors said" but we’re thrilled to be here in Annecy to share it. Leo is voiced by Adam Sandler and of course, it's silly and funny but it’s also about honest emotions and situations that every kid (and parent) experiences in elementary school. We hope people of all ages will relate to it."

Then the panel moved onto the upcoming series Blue Eyed Samurai, co-created by Michael Green and Amber Noizumi. Executive Producer Erwin Stoff and supervising director and producer Jane Wu  shared the visions for the story about a mixed-race swordmaster who lives in disguise while seeking revenge in Edo-Period Japan.

Stoff said. "Animation has always been a great medium for storytelling and Annecy is the best global stage to introduce audiences to Blue Eye Samurai. Michael Green and Amber Noizumi have assembled a tremendously talented team of artists and actors to bring their spectacularly creative and distinct vision to life."

Wu added "With Blue Eye Samurai, we are setting out to tell an ambitious new story and we can't wait for audiences around the world to be introduced to this emotionally grounded animated drama with a live-action attitude."

Taking next to the stage was Sam Fell, Peter Lord and Leyla Hobart of Aardman, producers of the eagerly anticipated Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget. They laid out their vision to the sequel of the biggest grossing stop-motion film of all time, and exclusively announced the film's release date is Friday, December 15.

Director Fell says "We’ve poured every bit of technical and creative know-how we’ve learned over 40 years of filmmaking into her. She’s a chip off the old block from an amazing predecessor – we love her to bits and are so excited to show her to the world."

Lord added "It’s wonderful to be returning to Annecy, the greatest animation festival in the world. I came here years ago with Nick Park when we co-directed our first movie Chicken Run. We both felt that there hadn’t been nearly enough truly memorable chicken heroes in movies, and we set out to correct that injustice with our film. Since then, it’s been amazing to watch those characters become beloved by audiences all over the world. Well, now they’re making their return in Dawn of the Nugget – a thrilling new chapter which I’m delighted to say is being directed by the equally amazing Sam Fell. For all of us, humans and chickens alike, the adventure continues.”

Throughout the panel audiences were also treated to exclusive extracts from Exploding Kittens, a new adult animated comedy with Tom Ellis and Lucy Liu, family action comedy The Monkey King, Pokemon Concierge, Mech Cadets and Big Mouth.

The panel looked ahead to the world premiere of Nimona that was taking place that night, and the making-of-session that was to take place on Thursday.

Nimona directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane spoke of their excitement at being at the festival."After a long journey, full of unexpected twists and unforeseen turns, we are all so excited to be able to share Nimona with the world and to finally talk about the challenges and joys that went into bringing this film to life! There's no better place we could imagine unveiling the film than right here in Annecy, at the preeminent animation festival in the world. Surrounded by like-minded people who love animation and the art behind creating cinema with this medium makes the Annecy audience a dream to share our creative journey with. We know once you meet Nimona, you’ll love her as much as we do!!"