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Animation as a medium has gained tremendous boost during the pandemic. With constraints on live-shooting to contain the spread, animation has saved the day for many.
Netflix co-founder, chairman and co-CEO Reed Hastings revealed at a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, that the streaming platform wishes to surpass The Walt Disney Company in family animation.
Speaking about the diverse programming slate and the area Netflix still needs to master, Hastings said, “We want to beat Disney in family animation. That’s going to take a while. I mean, they are really good at it. We’re both very focused on building out our animation group and, you know, it’s a friendly competition. We both want to do incredible stories for consumers and we want to be able to raise the bar in that area. We know that they will be a challenger and a competitor for the next 50 years.”
In July 2020, Hastings stated in the Q2 earnings call that the streaming colossal is focusing on more animated titles. Netflix Chief content officer Ted Sarandos who was promoted as the co-CEO in the earnings call by Hastings, mentioned, “We [Netflix] have been in talks with a number of animation creators/producers since 2019″, to take on its rival Disney+ which boasts of a humongous library of classics as well as new-age animated titles.
After Sarandos’ promotion, Netflix also named Indian-American Bela Bajaria as the head of a new global television division, to oversee all of its scripted and unscripted shows, including animation. With this, Cindy Holland, who had been with the streamer for more than 18 years as one of the key members of the streamer’s original programming strategy, would step down in October.
Hastings also added that the streaming giant has a long way to go in bringing fantasy stories similar to the likes of Disney and others. “The thing that many studios are able to do is create great franchises. We’re making great progress on that with Stranger Things and other properties, but compared to Harry Potter and Star Wars, we’ve got a long way to go. I can’t see us [buying a] chain or expanding in the theatrical, rather we want to really focus on internet entertainment and try to just continue to improve our series, our films to make them the best in the world.”
Netflix already has new animated announcements almost everyday with new/upcoming titles like Over the Moon, Jurassic Park: Camp Cretaceous, Horrid Henry’s Gross Day Out, Pokémon Journeys: The Series, Glitch Techs, and several others. Its BoJack Horseman is one of the most widely acclaimed adult animated series.
In India too, Netflix is looking out for more home-grown animated content with Indian animation creating a mark for itself in the industry. Netflix India Content VP Monika Shergill commented, “We have recently launched 17 local Originals and among them we have Bombay Rose, animated feature film by Gitanjali Rao. It clearly indicates that animation is on our radar, especially with the phenomenal success of Mighty Little Bheem which was viewed and enjoyed by 27 million plus US households as well as across the world, as it was territory agnostic. We have a talented vertical inhouse at Netflix India for family and kids entertainment, and they are making a lot of animation titles and have partnered with a lot of local creators. Great ideas are always welcome at Netflix and we would love to explore more of animation.”
With all these efforts and strategies, it’s now a matter of time to see if Netflix is able to overtake Disney in animation in the future.