It’s official: Apple’s soon-to-launch video service has acquired the rights to Tomm Moore and Cartoon Saloon’s next film Wolfwalkers. The news was confirmed by Deadline on Saturday evening, but Bloomberg first reported the negotiations between Apple and Cartoon Saloon last June.
Moore, who has directed the Oscar-nominated films The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, will co-direct the film with longtime collaborator Ross Stewart, who was the art director of The Secret of Kells, and co-directed with Moore the Cartoon Saloon sequence in the anthology feature The Prophet. “Since we came up with the idea many years ago it felt natural that we would co-direct this film together,” Moore told Cartoon Brew.
Wolfwalkers, writen by Will Collins (Song of the Sea), will be co-produced with Luxembourg’s Melusine Productions, and produced by Nora Twomey, Paul Young, and Stéphan Roelants.
It’s an idea that Moore has been developing for years. Wolfwalkers tells the story of 11-year-old Robyn Goodfellow, a young apprentice hunter who comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack of wolves. Her life changes though after she saves a native girl, Mebh, which leads to her discovery of the Wolfwalkers and transforms her into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.
Wolfwalkers will have a distinctive graphic look that reinforces the themes and values of its story. As seen in scenes from the trailer, the Puritans and English army are rendered in an ascetic woodblock style, while the wolfwalkers and wolves exhibit a freer, more expressive line style. “When we see the world from the point of view the wolves, it’s animated in charcoal with a very limited palette and color only where there are scents,” Moore told Cartoon Brew. “In contrast to the block print style in Kilkenny [Ireland] we have a much looser look to the forest — lots of ink splats and loose watercolors and scribbly pencil lines.”
Apple has still not publicly revealed plans for its streaming service, but it is now clear that the company will invest in both feature animation and series. It had previously announced that it will produce Central Park, an original musical animated series from 20th Century Fox Television written by Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, Grammy winner Josh Gad of Frozen fame, and Bob’s Burgers alum Nora Smith.
It’s no small news that Apple is entering the animation world considering that it is currently the world’s most valuable company, with a market capitalization of over $1 trillion dollars. Apple’s worldwide video division is headed by Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht.