Soon, fans at home can stream a film featuring an on-screen gay romance the Walt Disney Animation Studios abandoned back in 2019. Moviemaking is a process that requires a lot of creative development, from the initial concept to the final product.
Of course, for a studio as successful as Disney’s, with its now century of animation experience, animators and writers will often carefully hone a story for months, or even years, before getting it right, meaning many storylines for some of our favorite Disney films underwent extreme changes before making it to the big screen. For example, Disney began attempts at developing both “The Snow Queen” and “The Little Mermaid” short stories for feature-length animated films as far back as the mid-20th century before abandoning the concept.
In fact, it wouldn’t be until the 1980s for Ariel and the mid-2010s for Anna and Elsa that storytellers would hit upon the right combination of the original inspiration and unique adaptation to produce now award-winning, blockbuster, revolutionary films like The Little Mermaid (1989) and Frozen (2012). Such as, did you know that in original drafts for the storyline of Frozen, Anna and Elsa weren’t sisters, and Elsa was a cold-hearted blue villain more reminiscent of Eartha Kitt’s Yzma?
Plus, Disney would abandon whole films like 1994’s The Kingdom of the Sun and 2005’s Rapunzel Unbraided in favor of their final counterparts, The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), Enchanted (2007), and Tangled (2010)!
However, this new film is actually not a Disney concept at all but a storyline in development at Blue Sky Studios, famous for family favorites such as the Rio and Ice Age franchises. Indeed, the computer animation studio had already begun work on NIMONA, directed by Patrick Osborne and starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed & Eugene Lee Yang, by the time the Walt Disney Company acquired it through a merger with 20th Century Fox.
Unfortunately, Disney executives made the decision to scrap the in-progress production before ultimately closing down Blue Sky and absorbing all its animators. Even so, it seems the story of NIMONA, based on a graphic novel series of the same name, prevailed!
Specifically, Annapurna Pictures created an animation division headed by former Disney executives, Robert Baird and Andrew Millstein, and resumed work on NIMONA. According to information released by DiscussingFilm via Twitter, viewers can stream the finished movie on Netflix this year:
NIMONA, the animated film Disney scrapped after closing down Blue Sky Studios, has been revived by Netflix & releases in 2023.
The cast includes Chloë Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed & Eugene Lee Yang.
— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) January 2, 2023
According to an article from Vulture, the Nimona movie is set “in a techno-medieval world unlike anything animation has tackled before.” Moreover, the main characters are a knight named Ballister Boldheart, and his unlikely companion, Nimona, “a shape-shifting teen who might also be a monster he’s sworn to kill.” Interestingly, a former employee on the project alleges that part of the reason why Disney chose to delay the film’s completion, originally set to release in 2020, was the onscreen romance between Boldheart and his male love interest, Ambrosius Goldenloin.
At the time, Disney faced pressure from conservative audiences in the US and censorship laws in overseas markets alike which led to the removal or minimization of LGBTQ+ storylines in many of their films. Even so, the animation studio just included a similar representation in its 61st film, Strange World (2022), to recognizable success, which makes us wonder what the original Blue Sky version could have accomplished if it allowed to premiere back in 2019.
Still, lucky fans can now experience the story of Nimona when the Annapurna Animation film launches on Netflix in 2023.