Interactive cartoons have been around since at least the early Eighties, when Don Bluth made Dragon’s Lair, but entries in the genre remain few and far between. Netflix’s upcoming Cat Burglar is the latest addition to the category and it looks like good fun, with a classical twist.
What is Cat Burglar?
The project is billed as “classic cartoon craziness meets interactive trivia.” The goal of the viewer is to help Rowdy Cat break into a museum, get past Peanut the Security Pup, and steal a priceless artwork. It takes around ten to fifteen minutes to get through a viewing of Cat Burglar, but there’s dozens of different routes a viewer could take and over an hour-and-a-half of animation to discover, meaning that each time you watch it, you’ll have a different viewing experience.
Has Netflix ever done this before?
The streamer has been experimenting with interactive experiences for the last few years, and has created well over a dozen projects, both live action (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Escape the Undertaker) and animated (Boss Baby: Get That Baby!, Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal, Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile).
What distinguishes Cat Burglar from the pack is its length. It’s noticeably shorter than many of Netflix’s other interactive releases because it’s intended to play like a classic theatrical short. Netflix is promoting it as “Tex Avery inspired,” and judging from the trailer, they’ve done a commendable job of recreating the general feel of a 1940s Avery-directed MGM cartoon.
Who is behind the project?
Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker created Cat Burglar. Animation veteran Mike Hollingsworth, supervising director and producer on Bojack Horseman and Tuca & Bertie, is supervising director on the project. Hollingsworth co-wrote the project with James Bowman, animation director of Tuca & Bertie.
Other key credits: Russell McLean (Bandersnatch) is interactive producer, Avner Geller (visdev at Dreamworks Animation) is art director; Christopher Willis (Disney Mickey Mouse) composed the music, and animation was created by Dublin’s Boulder Media. Voices are James Adomian (Rowdy Cat), Alan Lee (Peanut), and Trevor Devall as the museum director.
Where to watch
Cat Burglar premieres globally on Netflix Tuesday, February 22.