Netflix will finance and distribute Coraline director Henry Selick’s stop-motion animated movie Wendell and Wild, featuring the voices of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key. It’s a good time to be in the Key & Peele business. Having just won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for his directing debut Get Out, Peele is riding high. His former partner on Comedy Central’s hit sketch show Key & Peele Key has headlined the Netflix series Friends from College and popped up in a variety of roles in the past few years, including voicing a role in the upcoming live-action remake of The Lion King.
We first heard about Wendell and Wild back in 2015, the plot of which follows “two scheming demon brothers who must face their arch-nemesis, the demon-dusting nun Sister Helly, and her two acolytes, the goth teens Kat and Raoul.” The offbeat – yet generally palatable – humor of Key & Peele felt like a natural fit for the kind of stop-motion universe director Henry Selick (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas) is capable of conjuring up.
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Now, Deadline reports that Wendell and Wild has found a financial backer and distributor in the form of streaming behemoth Netflix. The screenplay is being written by Jordan Peele and Clay McLeod Chapman, based on an original idea by Selick. Simon & Schuster is reportedly set to publish a children’s book connected to the film by Selick and Chapman. The film’s characters are being designed by the Argentinian artist and filmmaker Pablo Lobato.
Having permanently altered the way we watch our movies and TV at home – to the point of forcing the rest of the industry to play catch up – Netflix’s film and television production efforts paid off earlier this year when the streaming outlet won an Oscar for Bryan Fogel’s documentary Icarus. Netflix’s ambitious plans for 2018 are apparently just the beginning, with the company eyeing a partnership with Barack and Michelle Obama for original programming and landing high-profile stars like Keanu Reeves for upcoming projects.
As diverse as Netflix’s original projects have been, stop-motion animation is the one area they have yet to explore. Wendell and Wild will be the company’s second such project in the works, having previously won the rights to the Black List script Bubbles – a stop-motion project about Michael Jackson’s pet chimp, to be co-directed by Mark Gustafson and Thor: Ragnarok‘s Taika Waititi.
Even before Peele’s Oscar win, news of his next career move was an attention getter. This highly-anticipated re-team with Key – albeit in stop-motion form – sounded like a fun project from the beginning, with the imagination of Selick sure to sync up with the duo’s sensibility in intriguing ways. Now with Netflix behind them, we can safely assume a degree of creative freedom that the filmmakers might not enjoy elsewhere, even with Peele’s Oscar win. There is no word on what kind of distribution we can expect for Wendell and Wild, but a family-friendly rating would mean a wide release, presumably followed quickly by a debut on the streaming platform.
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