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.


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.