Netflix Loses Gore Verbinski's New Animated Movie, Will Be Shopped Elsewhere

It has been more than a decade since Pirates of the Caribbean and The Ring director Gore Verbinski made Rango, his Academy Award-winning animated feature starring Johnny Depp. Now, he's shopping around Cattywumpus, his next animated feature, after it was dropped by Netflix, where it was in development. The change comes as the U.S. animation industry is reeling from layoffs and cancellations at Netflix and HBO Max. Given the long and often expensive nature of animation development, it isn't uncommon for movies to be fairly deep into production, and for things to go completely sideways.

Likely because they want to stay in good graces with a filmmaker whose movies have grossed nearly $4 billion over the years, Netflix gave the creative team the green light to shop Cattywumpus around. Whether the project will end up getting made is up in the air at this point.

Since Cattywumpus was an original concept and not an adaptation, little is known about the project. It is reportedly set in space, and stars cats, presumably in the vein of the talking, humanoid lizard in Rango.

Deadline, who first reported on the Cattywumpus move, reports that Netflix cut loose more than 50 animators in May as part of about 150 total layoffs following slow growth that led to a steep decline in the company's stock price. In addition to the layoffs and cancellations, Netflix has shaken up management in their animation team VP of animation production operations Bruce Daitch left the company, with VPs Melissa Cobb and Gregg Taylor changing their roles with Netflix to become producers. Karen Toliver, another former VP, was promoted to lead the film animation team.

Upcoming projects in the animation space from Netflix include Henry Selick's Wendell & Wild, My Father's Dragon, Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, Thelma the Unicorn, Nimona, Ultraman, I, Chihuahua, and Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.