'Orion and the Darkness' in development at DreamWorks Animation

‘Orion and the Darkness’ in development at DreamWorks Animation

Logo text

Dreamworks Animation announced on Tuesday during the Annecy International Animation Festival that the production of Orion and the Darknessan animated film written by Charlie Kaufman, will arrive on Netflix in 2024.

Based on the book by Emma Yarlett, the story follows Orion, an anxious little boy voiced by Jacob Tremblay, who is afraid of the dark. Then, the literal embodiment of his worst fear—”The Dark” (voiced by Paul Walter Hauser)—visits him to prove there’s nothing to fear during the night. Orion must decide if he can learn to accept the unknown and embrace the joy of life.

Related stories

“It has the Charlie Kaufman stuff in it,” producer Peter McCown said of the Oscar-winner’s offbeat story, whose writing credits include Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Anomaly AND Synecdoche, New York.

The filmmakers aimed to give Orion – which is set outside Philadelphia in the 1990s – an illustrated look, hand drawn “with warmth and texture”. Characters include Dark’s “entities”: “Sleep”, a character modeled after an old teddy bear; Don’t worry, that’s a mouse; the worrying Insomnia; shapeshifter Dreams; and “Foley’s Last Artist” Unexplained Noises.

Sean Charmatz — a DWA storyboard artist Trolls around the world – makes his directorial debut with the film. It is produced by McCown and produced by Bonnie Arnold (the How to train your dragon trilogy) and Walt Dohrn.

Orion and the Darkness

Orion and the Darkness


Orion and the Darkness

Orion and the Darkness


(from left) Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) and Grandmamah (Jane Fonda) in DreamWorks Animation's Ruby Gillman Teenage Kraken, directed by Kirk DiMicco.

(from left) Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) and Grandmamah (Jane Fonda) in DreamWorks Animation’s “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken,” directed by Kirk DeMicco

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

DWA also presented a look at production and character design Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, which will have its world premiere on Thursday in Annecy before its theatrical release on June 30. “Maybe the krakens just need to show who they really are,” said director Kirk DeMicco (The Croods, Alive) of the concept. “We believe they are the protectors of the ocean, not the bad guys.” In the story, mermaids are presented as the sirens that sink ships.

DeMicco, along with producer Kelly Cooney and co-director Faryn Pearl, said their lead character is a teenage kraken princess trying to fit in school — and has a Jane Fonda-voiced grandmother to offer her wisdom. The filmmakers wanted Ruby to be relatable, feminine, powerful, and for her to have “ballet quality” as well. For the scenography, Ruby’s village is inspired by a coral reef.

“He’s a fish out of water in both worlds (above and under the sea),” DeMicco said. “He has to accept who he is. … It’s about belonging.

Later this week during the festival, DWA plans to screen a work-in-progress of the first 25 minutes of Trolls unitefollowed by a presentation hosted by co-director Dohrn, producer Gina Shay and co-director Tim Heitz.

In the film – to be released November 17 – Poppy (Anna Kendrick) learns that her current boyfriend Branch (Justin Timberlake) once performed in a boy band (sound familiar?) with his brothers, voiced by Eric André, Daveed Diggs, Kid Cudi and Troye Sivan. Trolls Band Together includes five new original songs from Timberlake. In the film, Branch has to gather the members of the band ‘BroZone’ and perform perfect harmony to free his brother Floyd (Sivan), who is imprisoned. The villains Velvet and Veneer are voiced by Amy Schumer and Andrew Rannells.

Annecy lasts until Saturday.

Trolls unite

Trolls unite

DreamWorks animation