John Lasseter and Skydance Animation: What’s Up Next in 2023?

Things have been going pretty well for John Lasseter, whose recent Blush (2021) and Luck (2022) releases at Skydance Animation were well-acclaimed. As the mind behind Pixar’s Toy Story Franchise, John Lasseter’s narrative power has kept him on his radar long after his affiliations with Disney Pixar. Blush is the pandemic-soothing wholesome content we need: an animated, cute love story that takes place in outer space, allowing us to reflect on ourselves (based on a true love story). Luck examines the life of a woman without much luck — until she receives a lucky coin from a cat that leads her on a wild adventure to another world.

Apple TV Plus Invests in Skydance Animation

Both of these Skydance Animation successes resulted from investment by Apple TV Plus. This network has further continued its investment in Skydance Animation and the notoriety that John Lasseter brings to the operation with more orders for 2023. Apple has announced an order of two seasons for The Search for WondLa, an animated show based on Tony DiTerlizzi’s book series. Additionally, they’ve invested in Spellbound and Ray Gunn.

Ray Gunn was originally penned by Brad Bird and Matthew Robbins in the 1990s but has gone through multiple iterations and title changes since. Described as “retro-futuristic,” Ray Gunn’s details are still hard to come by, but we know it’s in the works. This is a detective story that takes place in a futuristic city known as Metropia.

Spellbound follows the story of Princess Ellian, a girl struggling to make sense of her divided kingdom. This animated movie was created remotely due to the pandemic, but now it’s full speed ahead for Skydance Animation and John Lasseter. Now with merchandising in order, Spellbound is scheduled to be released in 2023, with a star-studded cast including Javier Bardem, Rachel Zegler, Jenifer Lewis, Nicole Kidman, and even John Lithgow.

Following the success of Luck (2022), it seems that John Lasseter’s career is back on track. He’s assembling new teams at Skydance Animation out of those who helped him create former successes. Disney alumni like Rich Moore are now part of Skydance after a short stint at Sony Pictures Animation — he’s the mind behind Zootopia and Wreck-It Ralph movies — plus he advised on hits like Moana, Frozen, and Tangled. Rich Moore is scheduled to work on Spellbound, bringing this Lasseter/Moore combo back into the game.

Additionally, Skydance Animation welcomes Alan Menken, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony (EGOT) champion to score Skydance features. And let’s not forget Brad Bird, who co-authored the original Ray Gunn Script. He worked with Lasseter on hits like The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2, and Ratatouille.

Predictions for Skydance Animation in 2023

We predict audiences will be enthralled by Spellbound, as they will be able to relate to the divisive nature of society in the movie. Spellbound will also include magical creatures and undoubtedly at least one hit song with Alan Menken on board. Trying to make sense of a chaotic world, kids need movies like Spellbound in their lives to help them navigate how to make good decisions when things get rough. With an all-star team assembled at Skydance, John Lasseter is sure to hit the mark with Spellbound, and we predict it will be the studio’s biggest hit in 2023.

While Ray Gunn might feel more niche, it will hit an interesting intersection: entertaining enough for kids, but genre-preferable for adults. If the studio can manage to master this balance, they’ll have a real winner!