The Sea Beast director Chris Williams signed an overall deal with Netflix in late 2022, and is now developing two feature projects for the streaming service.
Here’s what has been announced:
- Williams is working on a sequel to The Sea Beast, which last year became the streamer’s most viewed original animated feature (based on the viewership of the film in its first 28 days of release, which is Netflix’s de facto viewership measurement period). The sequel reunites back monster hunter Jacob Holland with Maisie, who is now his adopted daughter. It is still undecided whether the starring monster, Red, will appear in the sequel.
- The second feature is an original fantasy film. Williams described the film as such to The Hollywood Reporter:
Tonally, it would be between Lord of the Rings and Princess Bride. It’s like Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings where you have a history that leads up to the point where the story begins, and it’s a huge world with multiple events going on outside the story being told. But at the same time, I want to have fun with some of the conventions that Princess Bride did. It’s not parody and it’s not making fun of it, but it has a perspective that is light and refreshing.
- Williams is actively developing both films, but he doesn’t know yet which one he’ll direct first. “They are both growing organically and the goal is for one of them to take the commanding lead,” he said. “Right now, though, I’m going back and forth. The intention is to ultimately make them both.”
- Williams was upbeat about his experience making an animated feature for Netflix:
I felt so supported throughout the making of Sea Beast, even though it was a massively ambitious movie. That represents a financial investment and risk, and they were always cool letting me making the movie I wanted to make. I always value people’s opinions and I will always listen to what anyone has to say. But they never forced my hand and they never made me do anything other than let me do the movie I wanted to make. … The business model is fundamentally different [at Netflix]. If you’re at Pixar or Disney, you make one or two movies a year. And all the eggs are in that basket, so there’s a lot of concern and consternation about that one thing. And when you’re working on it, it’s a conscious thing and it’s also an unconscious thing. You feel that nervousness. If it doesn’t succeed, it can be an existential problem.
- Prior to joining Netflix in 2018, Williams spent 25 years at Disney, where he worked as a story artist and eventually directed Bolt and Big Hero 6 and co-directed Moana. Williams told THR that leaving Disney was a “very difficult decision” and that he had “reached a point where I didn’t want to nudge the boundary, I wanted to leap over it.”