Fans of John Lasseter will be happy to hear that he’s hard at work producing Spellbound, the second movie from Skydance Animation, the animated division of up-and-coming production studio Skydance Media.
John Lasseter was the famed film animator, producer, director, screenwriter, and voice actor for those who don’t know. He was the renowned head of the Pixar animation firm before he was named Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2006.
John Lasseter rose to fame in these capacities as the creator of the critically and financially successful animated motion pictures A Bug’s Life, Toy Story, Cars, Toy Story 2, and Cars 2. More than 100 additional Pixar and Disney projects, such as Monsters Inc., Beauty, and the Beast, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, WALL-E, Ratatouille, Up, Tangled, Toy Story 3, Frozen, Cars 3, and Finding Dory, also featured him as a producer or executive producer.
Due to his exceptional writing, conceptualization, and animation abilities, John Lasseter was named the chief of Skydance Animation in 2019. Before a recent agreement with AppleTV+, Skydance funded and released its films through Paramount, including Star Trek Beyond, Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol, Top Gun: Maverick, and Annihilation.
The Spellbound Story
The whole narrative of Spellbound has yet to be discovered. Still, according to the plot summary that’s been made public so far, “Spellbound tells the story of Elian, a teenager who comes of age by utilizing her magical powers to defend her family when the opposing forces of light and darkness threaten to divide her kingdom.”
Skydance has released one picture from the next movie, which depicts Elian between a pair of magical monsters, with mountains and a fantasy landscape in the background across a meandering river. It’s unknown who or what triggered these opposing forces to threaten Elian’s kingdom. It’s uncertain whether she’s linked to these monsters (could they be Elian’s parents? Have they changed from human forms into otherworldly beings?).
Other characters’ names that have been made public provide additional clues about the plot. These include a queen and king figure (presumably Elian’s parents), two heavenly oracles, and two royal ministers. Will Elian get advice from these latter figures on preserving her kingdom? These are all yet-to-be-answered questions.
The Spellbound Crew and Cast So Far
The story is being written by Elizabeth Martin, Linda Woolverton, and Lauren Hynek, who worked on the animated pictures The Christmas Ball, The Lion King, and Mulan, respectively. Rachel Zeglar from West Side Story will provide Elian’s voice. At the same time, Javier Bardem will portray King Solon, Nicole Kidman will portray Queen Ellsmere, John Lithgow will portray Minister Bolinar, Jenifer Lewis will portray Minister Nazara Prone, André de Shields will portray The Oracle of the Moon, and Nathan Lane will portray The Oracle of the Sun. Vicky Jenson, famed for helming the beloved Shrek, will direct the movie.
Alan Menken, who won Tony and Academy Awards for his work on Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, and both Aladdinfilms, will write the music and songs for the movie. With Menken aboard, the soundtrack is anticipated to be in high demand.
Spellbound, which had previously gone under the names The Unbreakable Spell and Split, was supposed to be out in 2019. Still, due to delays, Luck (also produced by John Lasseter) became Skydance Animation’s first feature to be released following the 2021 short Blush. In August, Luck made its AppleTV+ debut.
Additionally, Spellbound will debut on AppleTV+, most likely in late 2023 or 2024. It’s a much-anticipated opportunity for the Academy Award-winning Lasseter to once again display his unique, magical talents for his adoring fans.