In a move that just about everyone saw coming, Sony has sold Hotel Transylvania: Transformania to a streaming service — in this case, Amazon Prime Video.
There’d been speculation that Sony Pictures Animation‘s new sequel would land at Netflix since the streamer had already released SPA‘s recent movies The Mitchells vs. the Machines and Vivo, but Amazon made a strong push for Transformania in an effort to build out its own animation catalogue.
Transformania is expected to be the “final chapter” of the Hotel Transylvania franchise, and it brings back most of its voice cast, including Selena Gomez, David Spade, Steve Buscemi, Kathryn Hahn, Andy Samberg, Keegan-Michael Key, Jim Gaffigan, Molly Shannon, and Fran Drescher. However, Adam Sandler and Kevin James won’t be reprising their voice roles, as Brian Hull will now provide the voice of Dracula, while Brad Abrell will voice Frankenstein.
Variety broke the acquisition news, reporting that Amazon shelled out $100 million for the movie, give or (s)take. That’s a lot of dough for a sequel without two of the franchise’s biggest stars but it may just be worth it since Transformania is part of an established franchise that has grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide over the past decade. Kids won’t even know that Sander and James were subbed out, or should I say, dubbed out, for this sequel.
We may see more of these kinds of streaming deals for animated movies, as children under 12 have yet to be vaccinated, and kids are, of course, the target audience for those titles. Transformania had been slated for theatrical release on Oct. 1, but given the rise in COVID-19 cases due to the more contagious delta variant, concerned executives at Sony had little choice but to sell the sequel to a streamer.
Sony is utterly fascinating as a company. It was actually way out in front when it came to streaming — Crackle predates Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, etc. — and yet Sony remains the only major studio without its own streaming sibling. As a result, the studio has sold off many movies with dicey theatrical prospects during this pandemic, such as Greyhound (Apple TV+), An American Pickle (HBO Max), Fatherhood (Netflix), and Cinderella (Amazon), which will debut on Prime Video on Sept. 3.
As for Transformania, Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska directed from a script by Amos Vernon, Nunzio Randazzo and Genndy Tartakovsky, the latter of whom executive produced the sequel alongside Gomez and Michelle Murdocca. Sony will reportedly retain rights to home entertainment, linear TV and Chinese exhibition, according to Variety.