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Feature FilmInternet Video

Netflix Picks Up U.S. Rights to Paramount’s ‘Little Prince’

Netflix has confirmed that it will premiere Mark Osborne’s The Little Prince via its streaming service in the United States, just days after Paramount Animation confirmed it was dumping the film from its theatrical release schedule.

Paramount had planned to release the film in the United States tomorrow, March 18. For reasons that remain unknown — though plenty of rumors are flying around — Paramount opted not to release the film stateside.

The Little Prince, based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 novella, won the César Award last month for France’s best animated feature of 2015. With nearly $90 million in global box office gross, it is France’s most successful animated feature export of all time. Paramount Pictures handled the film’s release in France.

Netflix has not yet confirmed when it will premiere the film, but is expected to do so sometime this year.

While the film’s lack of theatrical release in the United States is certainly disappointing, especially for a feature reputed to have cost around $80 million to make, the dynamics of feature film consumption are rapidly changing, and the film has a shot of reaching a potentially larger audience through Netflix than through traditional theatrical distribution.

As I pointed out to a commenter earlier today, the stigma is easing on the distinction between theatrical and non-theatrical releases for feature animation, and the various VOD models should eventually mature into a reliable alternative to theatrical distribution.

Think about it this way: Five years ago, it would have been unthinkable for Netflix to pick up a major animated feature for exclusive online domestic distribution; ten years ago, it would have been impossible because Netflix didn’t even offer a streaming service yet. Online feature film distribution is a young and rapidly-evolving space, and it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

  • Marc Hendry

    Excellent! I think things will continue to go this way as home TVs get better and cinemas get more expensive. Glad the film isn’t completely dumped

  • Ahhh Netflix is my hero!!!

  • Joe G

    By any chance will it be eligible for an Emmy?

  • Alex Hartsell

    I don’t know, there are some Netflick Documentaries that were nominated for Best Documentary Feature. So I think Netflick could get it in the Oscars race for Best Animated Feature, because of it’s director. Also films like Regular Show and some of the Tinkle Bell movies got in the race for Best Animated Feature and they started on TV or DVD even though they were never nominated.

    • ea

      DC/WB should do the same for their animated films. Imagine The Killing Joke going against Disney/Pixar at the Oscars.

      • Inkan1969

        That’s what Disney used to do with their “Tinker Bell” movies.

  • AmidAmidi

    I would bet confidently that Netflix will qualify the film for the Academy Awards by doing a qualifying theatrical run, before launching it on their streaming platform.

    • Inkan1969

      Like I said above, I hope it’s more than a qualifying release. At least something on the level that “Boy and the Beast” and “Anomalisa” got.

    • KW

      Didn’t they try that with Beasts of No Nation and the Academy said it wasn’t qualified?

      • Callum J

        BoNN did qualify, it just wasn’t nominated.

  • ea

    I think it’s pretty hypocritical of the Academy to mandate theatrical screenings when most of its members watch the films on DVD anyway.

    If/when movie theaters die out, are the Oscars going to disappear as well?

  • Marc Hendry

    Disney will take it anyway

  • Callum J

    Netflix often give their movies a very limited theatrical release, so it can be nominated at the Oscars.

  • Shane

    It’s quite sad that a film like Norm of the North gets released but The Little Prince doesn’t. What a shame. I would’ve seen this movie twice and was looking forward to it. I guess paramouny needs to save to release another borefest like Sponge out of water (where the trailers lied to the whole audience, being only 3d for the last minutes of the film).

    • Somewhere_Outside

      The trailers lying to the audience about the 3D being the last third of the film was the best thing about it. Are you saying that you’d rather have seen most or all of the movie done in a live-action environment? If so, you and I have very different priorities when it comes to watching SpongeBob. ;)

  • Barrett

    Direct to video/streaming/whatever is only acceptable to me for things that are high quality now that home theater setups and high def streaming are commonplace. In the 90s, I hated it when films I was interested in were released direct to video, because the home video experience, even with a 32 inch tube TV with surround sound setup, just couldn’t compare to the theater. VHS also looked like crap, even on it’s “high quality” setting.

    In a world where a 46″ widescreen HD LCD is a “starter set” and HD video is accessible on a moment’s notice (no going to Blockbuster to rent or buy a cassette) it’s finally tolerable to see something with a cinematic scale on home video for the first viewing. Doesn’t mean it sucks any less that The Little Prince got the rug pulled out from under it for no good reason by Paramount. Canadians are getting to enjoy watching the film there this weekend, while us Yanks have to wait for it to show up in our “queue.”