Editors note: Deadline’s Read the Screenplay series debuts and celebrates the scripts of films that will be factors in this year’s movie awards race.
The generation gap has inspired many an animated movie. From Ariel defying her father to explore dry land to Moana leaving her family’s island, animated movies often appeal to rebellious kids. The Netflix original The Mitchells vs. the Machines understands the gap but offers some hope for harmonious families.
Katie Mitchell (voice of Abbi Jacobson) is a film buff who wants to go to film school. Her father, Rick (Danny McBride), doesn’t quite understand her passion and takes the family on one last bonding trip before Katie leaves. The Mitchells picked the right time to go camping, because computers and robots take over the world. That leaves the Mitchell family as humanity’s last hope, and also forces father and daughter to work through their issues.
Sony Pictures Animation came to writer-director Mike Rianda while he was working on the Disney series Gravity Falls. Rianda based the Mitchells on his own family, especially his outdoorsman father who was clueless when it came to technology. Rianda hired Jeff Rowe, whom he knew from CalArts and also worked on Gravity Falls, to co-write and co-direct.
Sony Animation veterans Phil Lord and Chris Miller joined the production when they saw a rough cut. The Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs directors and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse producers became producers of Mitchells too. The film was titled Connected until Netflix acquired it from Sony Pictures and changed it to Rianda and Rowe’s preferred name.
Animation embellishes the script’s visual styles, from Katie’s movie productions to the tech world of the robots. Artists also added Easter eggs for film buffs to spot all over Katie’s bedroom. All of that is based on the story at the heart of the film, which begins with the screenplay.
Click below to read Rianda and Rowe’s script.