In front of always enthusiastic Annecy festival crowds, directors Sergio Pablos and Kris Pearn shared work in progress clips, concept art and production notes on their highly anticipated Netflix animated features, Klaus, and The Willoughbys. Klaus will premiere on the streaming giant this holiday season, while The Willoughbys is set for a Spring, 2020 release.
In Klaus, a film Pablos has been working on since 2010, a young Scandinavian postman named Jesper, voiced to hilarious extremes by Jason Schwartzman, gets the chance to make his mark when he’s tasked with bringing the postal service to a contentious village in the cold north, where he meets a mysterious, white-bearded toymaker named Klaus.
Netflix’s first original animated feature, Klaus is a true passion project for Pablos, best known as the co-creator of Illumination’s Despicable Me. The production started and stopped a number of times before finding its home with Netflix. The film has been produced entirely in Madrid, Spain. In their presentation, Pablos and his art directors, Szymon Biernacki and Marcin Jakubowski, shared how the film finally came together visually after the introduction of new technology that allowed the traditional, hand-drawn animation to be lit in ways never before achieved.
Klaus is produced by Jinko Gotoh (The Little Prince, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part), Gustavo Ferrada, and Marisa Román. In addition to Schwartzman, the voice cast includes J.K. Simmons (Klaus), Rashida Jones (Alva), Joan Cusack (Mrs. Krum), Norm Macdonald (Mogens) and Will Sasso (Mr. Ellingboe).
The Willoughbys tells the story of four children who, after being abandoned by their selfish parents, must learn how to adapt their old-fashioned values to the contemporary world in order to create a new and modern family. The film, Netflix’s second original animated feature, employs a highly stylized CG animation style and is currently in production with BRON Animation in Vancouver. Written and directed by Pearn (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2), the film is based on the acclaimed book by Newbery Award-winning author, Lois Lowry. The cast includes Ricky Gervais (Cat), Maya Rudolph (Nanny), Will Forte (Tim), Martin Short (Father), Alessia Cara (Jane), Jane Krakowski (Mother) and Sean Cullen (The Barnabys).
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-at-Large of Animation World Network.