John Lasseter’s Skydance Animation has released new details about its much-anticipated 2024 release, Spellbound. A star-studded voice cast has been announced, as have details about the movie’s plot and music.
Spellbound tells the story of Princess Ellian, a young girl in the magical kingdom of Lumbria. Ellian must reverse the spell that has split her kingdom into two. The terrible spell has turned her father and mother, Lumbria’s king and queen, into monsters. She must manage the kingdom on her own and grapple with terrible threats.
The animated film is directed by Academy Award-winner Vicky Jenson, who won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature for Shrek. It’s slated for release on Apple TV+ in 2024, but no specific date has been announced.
The film stars Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) as Ellian. The voice cast is packed with talent, including Oscar nominee John Lithgow, Jenifer Lewis, and Nathan Lane in leading roles. Academy Award-winners Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem and six-time Emmy nominee Tituss Burgess also lend voices to the cast.
Eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken created the original score and original songs for the production.
Spellbound is the second animated feature for Skydance Animation, which John Lasseter helms. It follows Luck and the short Blush from the studio. It is considered the studio’s most ambitious production to date under Lasseter, who previously created Pixar and headed animation there and at Disney.
It’s also Jenson’s first animated feature in two decades, following 2004’s Shark Tales and Shrek (2001), which won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Most of the animation work is being done out of Skydance Animation’s Madrid unit. The fantasy kingdom of Lambria is inspired by the Moorish arches and domed roofs of ancient Spanish architecture.
The project was initially titled Split and announced in July 2017, shortly after Skydance Animation’s launch. Skydance had announced earlier in 2017 a partnership with Ilion Animation Studios, the Madrid-based group that now is Skydance’s European division.
Paramount Pictures was slated to distribute the film in 2019. The film went through several changes and pushed-back release dates, and the title was changed to The Unbreakable Spell before landing on Spellbound.
Apple TV+ acquired the film in December 2020. Zegler’s casting was announced in April 2022 with most of the remaining voice cast announced in June 2022. Menken announced he was working with John Lasseter on the project in April 2020.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, production was completed remotely.
Lasseter has been one of the leading visionaries in animation for decades. He began his career as an animator at Disney and soon realized the potential of digital animation. He later worked freelance on several early computer-aided features before becoming one of the founding employees of the Pixar Graphics Group.
It was at Pixar where Lasseter made a major name for himself in producing some of the most popular and beloved animated features of all time. He produced all of Pixar’s early films and directed Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, Cars and Cars 2.
Lasseter has won two Academy Awards, one for Animated Short Film for Tin Tin. The other was a Special Achievement Award for Toy Story. He has been nominated four other times; for Animated Feature for Monsters Inc. and Cars, for Original Screenplay for Toy Story, and Animated Short for Luxo, Jr.
When Disney purchased Pixar, Lasseter was named chief creative officer for both Pixar and Walt Disney Feature Animation. He was hired to head Skydance Animation in January 2019.