Big Hero 6 and Bolt co-director Chris Williams will make his solo feature directorial debut at Netflix with Jacob and the Sea Beast, an original cg animated feature that he also wrote.

The film tells the epic story of a charming seafarer who sails into uncharted waters and discovers an unlikely ally in a sea monster. Netflix expects the feature film to be released in 2022.

Jacob and the Sea Beast is the kind of story I’ve always wanted to take on,” Williams said in a statement this morning. “It’s a tale of high adventure where our hero leaves the known world and ventures out into uncharted waters. As it turns out, I’m doing the same thing. I’m grateful for the opportunities provided by my former creative home and am excited to leap into a new environment. I feel a great energy at Netflix, as amazingly talented artists from a wide variety of backgrounds are coming together to build something new.”

Melissa Cobb, vice president of kids & family at Netflix, added in a statement: “Chris is one of the most talented filmmakers working in animation today and his distinct voice comes through in this touching tale of ancient hunters who struggle to capture a beautiful, mythical sea creature on the high seas. His is precisely the kind of grand, adventure-filled story with smart and nuanced characters that we look for in family animated projects at Netflix.”

Williams is the latest major figure at Walt Disney Animation Studios to leave the company for creative opportunities elsewhere. Other key people who have left in the last few years include Hyrum Osmond, head of animation on Moana, and Lino DiSalvo, head of animation on Frozen, both of whom decamped to On Animation Studios; Nathan Greno (co-director, Tangled) to Skydance Media; Feast director Patrick Osborne to Blue Sky Studios; Inner Workings director Leo Matsuda sold projects to Dreamworks Animation; Paperman director John Kahrs went freelance, most recently working for Google Spotlight Stories; and Tangled animation supervisor Clay Kaytis is directing Netflix’s upcoming live-action film The Christmas Chronicles.

Chris Williams photo courtesy Netflix. Photo by Stephanie Girard.