Fans of animated musicals are eagerly awaiting the latest new release from Skydance Animation, called Spellbound. This is yet another John Lasseter film that Apple Original Films has eagerly collaborated on to bring to Apple TV+ in 2024. The exact date for release is still unknown, but some of the most enticing tidbits about the film have leaked out and are being shared here.
At its heart, Spellbound is a fairy tale. It takes place in a kingdom named Lambria, where there lives a king, a queen, and their daughter, Ellian. Ellian’s life is happy, and her parents lavish love and attention on her. Of course, like all great movies, the heroine’s world is soon torn. One day, a spell is cast on the King and Queen. They completely change, and instead of doting on Ellian, they behave like monsters, not even knowing or recognizing their daughter. Ellian is distraught. The running of the kingdom is left up to her, plus she must handle her parents’ erratic behavior, all while trying to figure out how to break the mysterious spell.
The Voice Talent
Like other John Lasseter movies, Spellbound is rich with talented voices. Some of the best-known names in Hollywood clamor to be considered for a voice role in Lasseter’s films. Spellbound is no exception, and the voice talent is a veritable who’s who of celebrity-dom. It boasts Javier Bardem, Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, John Lithgow, Nathan Lane, Jenifer Lewis, André De Shields, Tituss Burgess, and the list goes on. Notably, the voice talent for Princess Ellian is Rachel Zegler. Fans will remember her from Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, where her talents were swiftly noticed. However, even before she rose to fame in West Side Story, she was already plucked to play the role of Ellian.
The music in a John Lasseter film is arguably a role unto its own, and Spellbound is no exception. The film has several original songs composed by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Glenn Slater. A big opening number sets up the story and draws the audience in. Rachel Zegler also sings a beautiful ballad in her role as Princess Ellian, where she expresses how sad she feels about the loss of her parents as she knows them to be, and the sadness of having to say goodbye to her old, idyllic life. At the Annecy Animation Festival, Rachel Zegler gave a preview of this song and one other, thanks to the movie director, Vicky Jenson. Judging by the reaction of the audience, the ballad number has everything it takes to be a breakout hit.
Skydance Animation has a unit based out of Madrid, Spain, which is where the majority of the animation for Spellbound is being done. The location of Madrid has heavily influenced the look of the movie and the Kingdom of Lambria, in particular, with similar domed roofs and Moorish arches from ancient Spain. The characters promise to be enchanting as well, based on previous projects completed by Skydance Animation.
Apple has a multi-year contract with Skydance Animation, and Spellbound is one of the releases under that contract. While the release date is still a closely guarded secret, Apple has already been teasing audiences with promos for the film. Fans can expect another John Lasseter success in line with his previous successes that have won children’s hearts the world over, such as Toy Story, Cars, Frozen, Finding Dory, and many more. It’s becoming more clear that John Lasseter is continuing his trail of successes with the new animated musical, Spellbound.