John Lasseter’s upcoming animated musical, appropriately called “Spellbound,” is already creating something of a buzz. Slated for a 2024 release on Apple TV+, the new film is the result of a collaboration between Skydance Animation and Apple Original Films. Here’s everything we know so far about the latest creative project from John Lasseter.
“Spellbound” is a musical fairy tale set in a magical kingdom called Lumbria. The plot revolves around a princess named Ellian. Ellian needs to somehow keep her family together after a mysterious spell is cast on her parents, the King and Queen of Lumbria. The spell has transformed them from doting parents into monsters that Ellian scarcely recognizes. Not only does poor Ellian have to deal with managing the kingdom while her parents are spellbound; but she also has to manage her parents, who have set their sights on destroying the castle. To add insult to injury, Ellian’s parents don’t even remember her name or that she is their daughter.
As is the case with many of the movies that John Lasseter has been associated with, “Spellbound” boasts an impressive voice cast, which is likely to draw in crowds to see the movie when it comes out. The cast includes Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman, who have expertly taken on the roles of the king and queen. John Lithgow also came on board, lending even more star power to the ensemble. Other notable members of the voice cast include Jenifer Lewis, André De Shields, Nathan Lane, and Tituss Burgess. The lead character, Princess Ellian, is voiced by “West Side Story” star Rachel Zegler. Interestingly, the production approached Zegler before she achieved fame in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.”
The music in “Spellbound” promises to be a special highlight for music enthusiasts. The movie boasts original songs by Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater. Director Vicky Jenson, known for her work on “Shrek” and “Shark Tale,” even treated audiences at the Annecy Animation Festival to a first listen of the new original songs, performed by Rachel Zegler. Specifically, the original songs include a big opening number setting the scene for the story and a nostalgic ballad in which the princess laments the loss of her parents as she knew them and her old life. The latter song, in particular, has the potential to become a breakout hit judging by the enthusiastic response from the lucky audience during the song preview.
“Spellbound” is a fairy tale with modern twists and turns, another John Lasseter trademark movie. As director Vicky Jenson puts it, “The journey of Ellian is difficult, of course, but not without a lot of fun.” With its unique plot, star-studded cast, and original music, “Spellbound” promises to keep audiences spellbound in 2024.
The animation for “Spellbound” is primarily being done out of Skydance Animation’s Madrid-based unit, which has influenced the look of the film’s fantasy kingdom backdrop of Lambria, inspired by the “architecture of ancient Spain with its Moorish arches and domed rooftops.””Spellbound” will be distributed by Apple under its multi-year deal with Skydance Animation. However, there is no news on the exact launch date or on whether the film will get a theatrical release as yet. As John Lasseter and Skydance Animation aim to stand out from the crowd of animated films, the success of “Spellbound” could be a significant milestone for the company that would put it leaps and bounds ahead of competing production companies.