The move at least assures U.S. auds will get to see the animated adaptation of Antoine Saint-Exupery’s classic, even if on a smaller screen than the producers may have originally intended and indeed told international buyers when pre-selling the film. The promise of a wide domestic release through a studio had been a key part of the producers’ pitch to investors and buyers when the ambitious film was being put together. Wild Bunch handled international sales, scoring very impressive numbers, but the Paramount deal was done directly through the producers.
Paramount’s decision to drop the film came out of blue and left both the director Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda) and producers Dimitri Rassam and Aton Soumache surprised. Multiple inquiries to the filmmaking team were met with stony silence, the consequence perhaps of a legal binding not to disclose the film’s future destination.
The Little Prince, which premiered last year out of competition to respectable reviews, has performed well in its native France and other international territories, earning $100 million to date. The film boasts a stellar voice cast, including Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco and Benicio del Toro. Paramount’s French arm released the film in France.
It remains to be seen what impact the Netflix move will have on Rassam and Soumache’s attempts to put an arguably even more ambitious animated project in Playmobil. That project, based on the popular children’s toy range, also brings with it the promise of wide domestic distribution, albeit indirectly through co-financier Cross Creek’s, which has a relationship with Universal.