Netflix sponsored a Little Prince float at the Rose Parade, the annual southern California New Year’s parade that has happened for 128 years.
The ambitious two-section float, titled “Soar Beyond Imagination,” celebrates the hybrid stop mo/cg French feature, which earned nearly $100 million in foreign theaters, but was distributed via Netflix’s streaming service in the United States. Director Mark Osborne, who also co-directed Kung Fu Panda, rode on the float with his son Riley, who was the voice of the Little Prince.
The float is a reminder that Netflix’s The Little Prince is still a contender for end-of-year film honors. The film entered awards season as a strong candidate, but has failed to generate traction, coming up empty-handed for the entire season. Even the Annie Awards locked the film out of major nominations for best film and director, a decision that, in my opinion, has much more to do with politics than the quality of the film, which is a first-rate production that belongs to be up there with the other nominees.
The politics of the film are complicated: The Little Prince is a French cg film that cost nearly $80 million to produce, making it one of the most expensive films ever funded in France. It played well internationally, becoming the most successful French animation export of all-time, and it also won France’s Cesar Award last year for best animated feature.
None of that matters in the United States though, where high-end cg that isn’t produced by a major American film distributor is seen as a direct threat to the industry. Paramount, which had originally been the planned American distributor, wasn’t a major investor in The Little Prince and had little to lose when they suddenly backed out of the release. Even though they had distributed the film in some key international territories, like France, they reportedly dropped the U.S. release because the French producers didn’t put up an additional, agreed upon $20 million for the U.S. prints and advertising budget.
Netflix stepped in at the last minute to save the day, and it’s great that they did, but for whatever reason, they’ve been unable to convince awards season voters of Little Prince’s merit as an animated film. Is it because it’s a French film? (Other leading foreign contenders like The Red Turtle have also been largely locked out of the awards season race in 2016.) Or is it because the film was originally released internationally in 2015 and isn’t considered new enough? Or is it that voters don’t want to recognize Little Prince as a theatrical feature because of the Netflix association (even though it was released theatrically in almost every territory outside of the U.S.). Whatever the reasons, the lack of mainstream discussion about the film has been disappointing because it was among the more unique features released last year.
Even if the film isn’t receiving the critical attention it deserves, at least Netflix hasn’t given up, as evidenced by today’s float. Below are some photos and videos of the float, along with the “ingredients” used to make it. The float even won an award, the Craftsman Trophy, for exceptional achievement in showmanship, floats longer than 55 feet.
Here’s the list of the materials used to decorate the float:
The Front Unit has clouds of blue iris, white carnations and white gypsophila. The neighbors plane is decorated in cranberry seed, silverleaf, ground orange lentil and onion seed. The asteroids consist of seeds, petals and fresh flower blooms. The Prince’s home planet is covered in pink, hot pink, lavender and white roses. The Rear unit is a garden of tulips, amaryllis, daffodils, hyacinth, daisys, and snapdragons. The large tree is a paper bark trunk with a canopy of magnolia branches. The old man’s home is a combination of lettuce seed, crushed walnut shells, poppy seed and pepper. There are accents of carnation petals, lunaria, cut statice and ground split pea.
— Lemon Oak Tree (@LemonOakTree) January 2, 2017