Sony Pictures Animation’s Connected, a promising feature from first-time director Mike Rianda, was starting to look like a casualty of Covid. As other films danced around the 2021 calendar in search of a safe release date, Connected went quiet.
Now the film has found a home — and a new title. It will be released later this year on Netflix, the great refuge for theater-skeptic studios who lack their own big streaming platform. The film will come out as The Mitchells vs. The Machines, which was its original working title.
Rianda is a former writer and creative director of hit Disney series Gravity Falls. His directorial debut tells the story of a dysfunctional family that draws inspiration from his own upbringing. He wrote the film with Jeff Rowe (who also co-directs). The synopsis is as follows:
The Mitchells vs. The Machines is an original animated comedy about an everyday family’s struggle to relate while technology rises up around the world! When Katie Mitchell, a creative outsider, is accepted into the film school of her dreams, her plans to meet “her people” at college are upended when her nature-loving dad Rick determines the whole family should drive Katie to school together and bond as a family one last time.
Will Allegra and Louis Koo Tin Lok executive-produced the film, while Phil Lord and Chris Miller produced alongside Kurt Albrecht. Lord and Miller have a strong relationship with Sony’s animation unit — they won the studio an Oscar in 2019 by producing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. They also wrote and directed its 2009 feature Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and executive-produced its 2013 sequel.
The cast of The Mitchells vs. The Machines includes Danny McBride, Abbi Jacobson, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman, Blake Griffin, and Doug The Pug.
Rianda said in a statement:
This is a very personal movie about my very weird family. I’m so grateful to all the incredible artists that poured their love and passion into this project to make it a reality, and to everyone at Sony who believed in us and were on board to make a different kind of animated movie. I’m so thrilled that everyone at Netflix has been totally in sync with us creatively and are just as excited about the movie as we are! Not only because it’s an original story with a creative visual style that we’re extremely proud of, but also so I can prove to my friends that this five-year journey wasn’t an elaborate delusion on my part.
Lord and Miller added:
We are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm Netflix has expressed for this movie with this acquisition and grateful to everyone at Sony for making a great picture with us and finding a big way to bring it to audiences. We’re really proud of the film we all made together, plus we understand our subscription fees are waived in perpetuity as part of the deal? We’re not lawyers but it does sound right to us.
Last week, Netflix unveiled its slate of animated films for 2021. It includes another heavyweight acquisition, Wish Dragon, which Sony co-produced with various Chinese companies. In Netflix’s earnings call this week, chairman and co-CEO Reed Hastings reaffirmed the streamer’s commitment to animation: “We’re very fired up about catching [Disney] in family animation, maybe eventually passing them.”