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Feature FilmInternet Television

BREAKING: Netflix Will Produce Sergio Pablos’ 2D Feature ‘Klaus’

Who saw this one coming? Netflix has become the first major American entertainment company in quite a few years to fund a decently-budgeted hand-drawn animated feature.

The internet streamer announced this afternoon that they have acquired global rights to Klaus, which will mark the directorial debut of veteran animator (and Despicable Me co-creator) Sergio Pablos.

The quirky holiday comedy tells the (non-canon) origin story of how a desperate postal worker inadvertently invents Santa Claus.

“How is it possible there’s no story about the origin of Santa Claus?,” Pablos said in a Netflix statement. “He’s one of the most well-known and loved characters in the world! We felt this was a story that needed to be told and that there was no better way than with animation.”

Pablos, who came up with the original story, also wrote the screenplay with Zach Lewis and Jim Mahoney.

Concept art from "Klaus."
Concept art from “Klaus.”

Voice cast is headlined by Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, J.K. Simmons, and Joan Cusack.

Tanguy Olivier, Gustavo Ferrada and Marisa Roman are producers, and Jinko Gotoh (The Lego Movie Sequel, The Little Prince) is executive producer. Sergio Pablos’ SPA Studios is producing the film in Madrid, Spain, with Atresmedia Cine. Toon Boom Harmony will provide “strategic technological support.”

Netflix is planning a Christmas 2019 release.

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If you’ve been keeping up with the development of Klaus, then you know that this is not going to be a standard hand-drawn animated feature. Pablos and his crew are using digital tools to re-imagine a fresh, best-of-both-worlds approach to 2D that combines the organic charm of drawing with the volumetric lighting and texturing that viewers commongly expect from computer animated films.

The Klaus animation test [watch below], which debuted on Cartoon Brew back in 2015, caused a big stir in the community, and now with additional years of development behind the technique and Netflix’s backing, Klaus could be destined to be something very special.

  • I am so happy to hear about this!!! LOVED the Klaus tests and cannot wait to see a feature in that style!

  • Metlow Rovenstein

    Interesting, but not surprising. Netflix has taken quite a few risks, like starting the streaming service. Hopefully this film will be great when it’s released.

  • Mesterius

    But… will it get a theatrical release then? or just go straight to Netflix’s streaming service?

  • Sandro Cleuzo

    I am impressed by Netflix and can only say Congratulations for taking a risk in hand drawn animation, you have my respect for that.

  • PinataPower

    Great news! Cant wait to see it.

  • Dante Panora

    I legit think this movie could be the start of the revival of 2-d hand drawn animated films in America. Or at least, netflix would be willing to finance more 2d animated films like this. I don’t know if this films success on netflix would serve as much of a sign for animation studios that releae their movies in theatres.

    Maybe streaming sites like Amazon and that upcoming Disney streaming service will be the home for 2d films in America again. Hey maybe one can pick up that damned Hullabaloo movie!

    • mick

      I agree. No matter what happens regarding it’s release, on telly, in theatres or where ever, this is a big step in the right direction

      • Mesterius

        The film getting made is good news, but I AM still disappointed that it will apparently not be released to theaters. I wanna see hand-drawn animated features back on the big screen in Hollywood.

        • Jon Turner

          I wouldn’t lose hope on that happening just yet. Netflix COULD potentially still show this theatrically.

          • Mesterius

            Is theatrical releases even remotely a part of Netflix’s business plan? I’d love to see them expand to theatrical distributution just for this film, but what are the chances?

          • Barrett

            They dabbled with it about ten years ago, they had a division called “Red Envelope Films” that put out movies in cinemas. I think it folded due to unprofitability at least 6-7 years back. of course, things change, and with universal digital projection in virtually all U.S. theaters, they might put their toe back in that water.

    • Dylancaufield1

      Im still waiting for the Paperman style movie Disney promised.

      • diggy

        When did Disney promise a Paperman style movie?

        • Mesterius

          Once upon a time, Moana was intended to be made in the Paperman style. Before that, Moana was intended to be made as a hand-drawn film. Don’t trust everything Disney promises.

        • Dylancaufield1

          They didnt promise, but they said they where working making a movie with the style on it.

      • Barrett

        I would certainly go see a “Paperman” style Disney feature, but if one never gets made, I won’t exactly be crying in my Corn Flakes. “Paperman” was an interesting experiment, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it in more short films, but to me it felt kind of weird and contrived as an aesthetic for a long-form story. I prefer really good 3D or really good 2D, the weird approach of “Paperman” is kind of an “uncanny valley” of animation mediums.

  • Pencil

    YESYESYESYESYES thank you Netflix!

  • johnny bijos

    “How is it possible there’s no story about the origin of Santa Claus?,”
    Actually, it´s already been told twice in animation – The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1985 and 2000) inspired by the book of the same name by L.Frank Baum.
    But still, will be a awesome movie!!

    • Also Rankin Bass made the stop motion Santa Claus is Coming to Town, which is also an origin story.

    • Ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi

      And Disney’s Santa Clause in 1994
      And Santa Claus: The Movie in the 80s

      ….shall I go on?

      • Barrett

        I don’t think either of those are really “origin stories”, though Santa Clause presented a unique premise of how Santa could be “eternal.”

  • John O’Connell

    Just get’s better and better. Good luck to Sergio Pablos and crew. Does this means it will not be released in theaters? Would they produce it and release it both in theaters and on Netflix? Hope it gets all the attention it deserves.

  • Cameron Ward

    This is just awesome. I can’t wait for this film to come out. I know some will scowl at it not being “official traditional 2D animation”, but in the end, it’s 2D animation, and it’s going to be awesome.

    • mick

      Who? Who in the name of all that is just would scowl at anything to do with this? Only a madman bent on destroying joy would even THINK about a scowl. Put your fears aside Cameron this is wonderfilled and nothing but positivity will come from it

      • Cameron Ward

        Oh trust me, you wouldn’t believe how many people hate when 2D these days is not done by hand, paper, and so on. it’s annoying.

        • Mesterius

          Just like when people complain about CGI not being done on computers. Completely missing the big picture.

  • J.S

    Excellent news!

  • TalonsofIceandFire

    Awesome to hear. I am looking forward to seeing this movie become a reality.

  • Gabi Vallu

    why we love netflix? … this is a BIG reason!

  • Googamp32

    Wow! I guess streaming really IS the future!

  • ToonBoom_Animator

    Netflix is booming for animation lately! This is exciting stuff.

    Don’t forget that they’re also producing Channing Tatum’s “America” movie which is a 2D feature being done entirely in the United States.

    I think Netflix could bring back a revival for 2D Animation if they play their cards right.

  • Benjamin De Schrijver

    Wonderful, thrilling news. I cannot wait.

  • I’ve been waiting for Klaus for what seems like forever now, so that Christmas 2019 release gets me going! Maybe Dragon’s Lair and Hullabaloo could get picked up by Netflix too. Maybe.

  • mick

    This is the start of something… the highly misguided rubbish made rampant CGI that was the polar express will be but a footnote. THIS film is a return to what could be deemed ‘classic’… I am very happy right now

  • Eissom

    You can’t see it, but I’m getting up from my chair and clapping my hands while nodding in approval.

  • Derpy Pirate

    So this won’t be released in theaters? Darn it. :(

    Ah well. Who knows? Maybe the success of a 2D-animated film on Netflix will convince theatrical companies to start showing 2D-animated films in theaters.

  • I think this a smart move on Netflix part. A good change of traditional animated films getting back mainstream attention in the West.

  • John from Montreal

    I don’t know if people forgot about this but Cinesite in Montreal was originally supposed to co-produce the film. The company has lost the project sometime between during the last year so that’s why Klaus is now entirely produced in Spain. As someone from Montreal, I was really happy that a project like this would be made locally. I have no idea how or why this happened but my theory is bad management on Cinesite’s part according to what I heard from friends that works at that company.

  • Mooly Tooly

    Oh! Another Netflix Original!

    Joking aside I’m very happy this is being made. It’s wonderful to see such a beautiful film.

  • This is fantastic news. With Disney and other companies shifting to streaming services and the never-ending desire for content, the future could be great for those who step up to make unique content, standing out from all the other stuff.

  • Dinesh Shringirishi

    Amazing Work never seen before

  • Peter Anderson

    I am so happy to see that Netflix has picked this project up and is going to produce it, the trailer is fantastic and I feel that this will be a huge success world wide. I wish Sergio and all his team the greatest success with this.

    Best
    Peter A

  • Ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi

    This new form of 2D looks awesome. It’s almost a shame it was (do I dare say it?) wasted with a slapstick story.
    Yeah, I know this is just a teaser, but the animation overpowers the story.

    • Mesterius

      I have to agree. Can’t say I have been very engaged by what looks like the plot so far (or the main character’s problems).

    • GW

      It may have a slapstick beginning but it’s too early to tell how much of the whole movie’s plot is like that. I’d wait for at least a regular trailer that shows events further into the film. Despicable Me was pretty comedic most of the way through, so it’s possible, but the way the teaser ends on a scary note, it seems to suggest that there is more to it than that.

      For my own opinion, I have had unenthused reactions to a lot of recent animated film trailers, but this one interests me. For whatever reason, I can relate to the main character’s frustration.

  • Heidi Pearl

    I am sooooooo excited I have been following his work on youtube and now to see this just made my day. OMG thank you Netflix and thank you Sergio Pablos for making 2D works still. =)

  • Omar Momani

    I hope it’s the beginning of many 2d features on Netflix