Charlie Kaufman’s (animated) existential ode to overcoming fears is finally here.
“Orion and the Dark,” written by Kaufman and adapted from a YA novel, follows anxiety-ridden elementary schooler Orion (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) as he tries to cope with being afraid of the dark — which actually becomes a physical entity played by Paul Walter Hauser. The Dark whisks Orion away to a land filled with all of his fears, including clowns, fireworks, and ghouls. A “Monsters Inc.”-style movie, Orion befriends the things he is afraid of most, and conquers his anxiety.
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Animator Sean Charmatz marks his feature directorial debut with the DreamWorks and Netflix film, based on Emma Yarlett’s novel of the same name. Variety previously reported that a Werner Herzog cameo could be in the works for the animated film.
Peter McCown produces the film with Walt Dohrn and Bonnie Arnold serving as executive producers. “Orion and the Dark” is released ahead of Disney/Pixar sequel “Inside Out 2,” which also has a character devoted to adolescent anxieties…literally named Anxiety and voiced by Maya Hawke.
The trailer for “Orion and the Dark” debuted during Netflix’s Geeked Week programming, which also saw updates on “Stranger Things 5” and more upcoming streaming projects for the platform.
Kaufman formerly spoke out about collaborating with Netflix, saying, “The reason something like Netflix attracts filmmakers is because there’s nowhere else to make those things. It’s infuriating to me when people say Netflix is ruining movies because — no, movies ruined movies, studios ruined movies, and that’s the truth.”
Kaufman also was announced in 2020 to be penning “The Memory Police” adaptation for Amazon Studios with Reed Morano directing. Morano made history as the first woman to win the Primetime Emmy for Best Director for the pilot of “The Handmaid’s Tale” back in 2017. Morano also is attached to helm Nicole Kidman’s “Pretty Things” adaptation.
“Orion and the Dark” is just one of many Kaufman adaptations of others’ work, including “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” for Netflix, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” and the meta “Adaptation” inspired by Susan Orlean’s “The Orchid Thief.”
“Orion and the Dark” premieres February 2 on Netflix. Check out the trailer below.
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