"Back to the Outback" "Back to the Outback"

Netflix’s animated feature slate for 2021 isn’t exactly jam-packed for now, but it has just welcomed a new title: Back to the Outback, a road-trip comedy starring a snake, a koala, a thorny devil lizard, and assorted other antipodean beasts. The film, which is directed by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps, will be released globally next fall.

Here’s the synopsis:

Tired of being locked in a reptile house where humans gawk at them like they’re monsters, a ragtag group of Australia’s deadliest creatures plot a daring escape from their zoo to the Outback, a place where they’ll fit in without being judged for their scales and fangs. Leading the group is Maddie, a poisonous snake with a heart of gold, who bands together with self-assured thorny devil lizard Zoe, lovelorn hairy spider Frank, and sensitive scorpion Nigel.

But when their nemesis — Pretty Boy, a cute but obnoxious koala — unexpectedly joins their escape, Maddie and the gang have no choice but to take him with them. So begins a hair-raising and hilarious road trip across Australia, as they are pursued by a zookeeper Chaz and his adventure-seeking mini-me.

And here are the details:

  • Knight is an experienced editor who has worked on The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and the Kung Fu Panda trilogy; she was nominated for an Annie Award for her work on Kung Fu Panda 2. Cripps, who is also the screenwriter, co-wrote the live-action drama Penguin Bloom, which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival this year.
  • The voice cast is packed with high-profile Australian actors and comics. It includes Isla Fisher, Tim Minchin, Eric Bana, Guy Pearce, Miranda Tapsell, Angus Imrie, Rachel House, Keith Urban, Celeste Barber, Wayne Knight, Aislinn Derbez, Diesel Cash La Torraca, Lachlan Ross Power, and Jacki Weaver.
  • Animation is by Reel FX, which is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and also has studios in Hollywood and Montreal. Its filmography includes Scoob!, Uglydolls, The Book of Life, and Paramount Animation’s forthcoming Rumble.
  • Daniela Mazzucato, a veteran Dreamworks production manager, is producing. The executive producers are Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) and Greg Lessans, who developed the story with Cripps.
  • Last month, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos revealed that the company is aiming to start releasing six original animated features a year — an unheard-of number in the industry. It is unlikely to hit that target next year, but sources inside the company have told Cartoon Brew that it intends to get there in 2022.

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