Netflix has just released the official trailer for their upcoming animated comedy, The Mitchells vs. The Machines. The film is produced by the dynamic duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, producers of the Oscar-winning animated feature, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The LEGO Movie. The film is written by former Gravity Falls scribes Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe, who also serve as director and co-director. It stars Rianda, Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Blake Griffin, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Charlyne Yi, Conan O’Brien, Sasheer Zamata, Elle Mills, Alex Hirsch, and Jay Pharoah. And Doug the Pug. Lord, Miller, and Kurt Albrecht produced the film; Will Allegra, Louis Koo Tin Lok executive produced.
The film features an ordinary family who find themselves in the middle of their biggest family challenge yet… saving the world from the robot apocalypse. Piece of cake. It all starts when creative outsider Katie Mitchell is accepted into the film school of her dreams and is eager to leave home and find “her people.” Her nature-loving dad insists on having the whole family drive her to school and bond during one last totally-not-awkward-or-forced road trip. But just when the trip can’t get any worse, the family suddenly finds itself in the middle of the robot uprising! Everything from smart phones, to roombas, to evil Furbys are employed to capture every human on the planet. Now it’s up to the Mitchells, including upbeat mom Linda, quirky little brother Aaron, their squishy pug, Monchi, and two friendly, but simple-minded robots to save humanity.
This past January, Netflix announced they’d purchased worldwide rights (outside of China) for the film, previously titled Connected, from Sony Pictures Animation in a deal reportedly worth more than $100 million. At the time of the deal, Rianda said, “This is a very personal movie about my very weird family. I’m so grateful to all the incredible artists that poured their love and passion into this project to make it a reality, and to everyone at Sony who believed in us and were on board to make a different kind of animated movie. I’m so thrilled that everyone at Netflix has been totally in sync with us creatively and are just as excited about the movie as we are! Not only because it’s an original story with a creative visual style that we’re extremely proud of, but also so I can prove to my friends that this five-year journey wasn’t an elaborate delusion on my part.”
Lord and Miller previously worked with Netflix on the animated comedy series, Hoops, starring Spider-Verse’s Jake Johnson. The critically panned show was canceled after one season. In 2019, the pair entered into a highly lucrative 9-figure development deal with Sony Pictures TV, as well as a first-look film deal with Universal. Last summer, they reunited with series co-creator Bill Lawrence and writer Erica Rivinoja to develop new episodes for Clone High, based on their iconic animated emo culture satire that originally aired on MTV in 2002.
Regarding the film’s move to Netflix, the producing duo said, “We are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm Netflix has expressed for this movie with this acquisition and grateful to everyone at Sony for making a great picture with us and finding a big way to bring it to audiences. We’re really proud of the film we all made together, plus we understand our subscription fees are waived in perpetuity as part of the deal? We’re not lawyers but it does sound right to us.”
Netflix continues to move aggressively in all areas of the animation space, including features. The Mitchells vs. The Machines joins acquisitions like the recently released Spongebob: Sponge on the Run (outside North America), as well as this year’s Wish Dragon. Those come on the heels of last year’s releases: Sergio Pablos’ Academy Award-nominated Klaus, Kris Pearn’s The Willoughbys, and Glen Keane’s Over the Moon. Features recently announced and in production include the upcoming comedy Back to the Outback, directed by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps; Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Adventure; Chris Williams’ The Sea Beast; Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild; Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon; Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio; Wendy Rogers’ The Magician’s Elephant; Minky Lee’s Witch Boy animated musical; and an Aardman Chicken Run sequel.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.