After months of rumors, Apple has finally confirmed that it has signed Skydance Animation to an overall deal for both film and television, which means that controversial genius John Lasseter will be returning to Apple decades after founding Pixar with Steve Jobs.
This deal has been in the works for some time, ever since Apple acquired Skydance Animation‘s upcoming movies Luck and Spellbound, though a new theatrical-quality animated TV series is also an important element. The tech giant has given a two-season order to The Search for WondLa, which is based on the beloved book series by Tony DiTerlizzi.
The book follows a young girl named Eva Nine who has never walked outdoors, seen the actual sun, or met another living person until she’s forced to run for her life when a marauding huntsman destroys her underground home. Desperate to find someone else like her, she possesses a single clue that gives her hope: a crumbling picture of a girl, a robot, an adult, and one word — “WondLa.”
The Apple Original series will be written and executive produced by showrunner Lauren Montgomery, with Chad Quant, DiTerlizzi, and Gotham Group also serving as executive producers.
As for Luck and Spellbound, the former is directed by Peggy Holmes and written by Kiel Murray, while the latter is directed by Vicky Jenson and written by Lauren Hynek, Elizabeth Martin and Linda Woolverton. The embattled Lasseter, who left Pixar amid a cloud of accusations involving unwanted touching and promoting a “boys club” atmosphere at the company, made it a point to work with female writers and directors when he was given another chance by Skydance Media boss David Ellison and Skydance Animation president Holly Edwards. Lasseter serves as head of animation at the company, and he and Ellison will serve as producers on all feature films, as well as executive producers on series.
Both Luck and Spellbound focus on young female protagonists as well. Luck centers around the unluckiest girl in the world, who after stumbling upon the never-before-seen world of good and bad luck, must join together with magical creatures to uncover a force more powerful than even luck itself. Meanwhile, Spellbound is described as an animated musical about a young girl who sets out to break the spell that has divided her kingdom in two.
The original score for Spellbound hails from Oscar winner Alan Menken, with lyrics by Glenn Slater. Chris Montan serves as executive music producer on Spellbound.
These three Skydance Animation projects join the Golden Globe-nominated Wolfwalkers, Snoopy in Space and DWA‘s Doug Unplugs among the animated offerings available on Apple TV+. The streamer will soon release the Russo brothers‘ drama Cherry starring Tom Holland, and it recently picked up CODA, which was the best movie I saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Apple is also developing a Fraggle Rock reboot that sounds exciting.