Netflix Shows Off Massive “No Guardrails” Animation Slate with ‘Terminator,’ Zack Snyder’s ‘Twilight of the Gods’

Four years ago, Rebel Moon filmmaker Zack Snyder and producing partner and wife Deborah Snyder met with Netflix executives to discuss possibilities in animation.

The medium was growing fast inside the company, as fast as its subscriber base. One exec threw out the idea of doing something with Norse mythology. Zack Snyder, who had spent much of his career making movies with grand mythological overtones, took to it. Partnering with storyboard artist and animation director Jay Oliva, the Snyders eventually came up with a love and revenge story titled Twilight of the Gods.

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“We pitched them an outline; they had a few notes but they let us have free reign,” Deborah Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter at a Netflix animation event Thursday. “They had no guardrails, no limitations.”

That lack of guardrails or limitations may be the best way to describe the free-wheeling, anything and everything goes ethos that has overtaken Netflix’s animation arm. The company, which has been crowned victor of the streaming wars, unveiled a firehose of new and upcoming animation titles Thursday, ranging from shows for pre-schoolers, teens and adults, in styles and tones ranging from cute and glossy to lush and dark.

Timothy Olyphant, star of FX’s Justified, will voice the killer Terminator robot in Teminator Zero, which hails from The Batman II writer Mattson Tomlin and hits Aug. 29. Natalie Portman, Emilia Clarke, Margot Martindale and Johnny Vegas are lending their voices to The Twits, an adaptation of the Roald Dahl story being directed Phil Johnston, the director of Ralph Breaks the Internet.

Hayley Atwell, Kal Penn and LeVar Burton were revealed to be part of the English voice cast of The Imaginary, the Japanese fantasy property debuting on the service July 5.

And the Wallace & Gromit movie got a title and cast, with the new feature called Wallace & Gromit: Vengeance Most Fowl starring Ben Whitehead, Peter Kay, Lauren Patel, Reece Shearsmith, Diane Morgan, Adjoa Andoh, Muzz Khan and Lenny Henry. The tsunami begins with the feature Ultraman, based on the popular Japanese franchise and directed by Shannon Tindle, which hits June 14.

For Netflix, animation is no longer a bet, but a vital piece of its business. About 130 million Netflix households, out of almost 270 million subscribers, watch animation every month, per the company’s metrics. Anime generated over one billion views across 190 countries in 2022. Their preschool hits CoComelon, CoComelon Lane and Gabby’s Dollhouse generated 650 million views combined in 2023. And its top movies from the last two years, Leo and The Sea Beast, had 29 million views in their first five days, topping Disney+ top movie of 2023, Elemental, which had 26.4 million, the company boasts.

“When most people think about animation, they think about Saturday morning cartoons, or G-rated movies,” said the presentation’s host, Christopher Sean. “But animation is so much more than a kids’ genre. It’s a way to tell all kinds of stories for all kinds of audiences.”

Deborah Snyder underscored the point that many companies or channels tend to silo the type of animation they make, or perhaps have a particular style. Netflix’s breadth is wide, allowing for the creative freedom.

“In animation you can do things that you can’t afford to do in live action, “ she said. “You can stylize them in any way you can imagine them to be. There’s a lot of possibilities for creativity.”

For a taste of the smorgasbord, check out the sizzle that Netflix released below.

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