A new magical adventure is coming to Apple TV+ in the future. Their second animated feature, Spellbound, will follow Elian (Rachel Zegler) as she tries to save her kingdom and defend her family.
Deadline confirmed Rachel Zegler would voice the lead role in April. Additional cast members, including Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, and John Lithgow, were announced in June. The film will be directed by Vicky Jenson, with a script by Lauren Hynek (Mulan), Elizabeth Martin (The Christmas Ball), and Linda Woolverton (The Lion King, Maleficent). Jenson is known for her work as director on the long-time favorite Shrek.
Spellbound comes from Skydance Animation, a new division of Skydance Media. The parent company is known for True Grit, Annihilation, and Top Gun: Maverick. It formed its animation division in 2017, with its first film debuting in 2022 on Apple TV+. Here’s what to know about the animated feature so far.
Spellbound: The Plot
Very little is known about the plot so far, but the released logline gives a great picture of what audiences can expect from the animated feature:
Spellbound tells the story of Elian, a teenager who comes of age using her magical powers to defend her family when the opposing forces of light and darkness threaten to divide her kingdom.
A spell breaking her family’s kingdom in two makes for an incredible journey. Who cast the spell? Was it a ruler from a rival kingdom, a sorcerer slighted years earlier, or maybe even someone within the kingdom itself? Is saving the kingdom a rite of passage she needs to do before becoming the person she’s meant to be?
With a single image released, it looks like some magical creatures will appear. The way Elian is trying to grab them makes it look like they could be her parents. Have they been charmed into something else, and she needs to figure out how to counter the transformation? If so, how is it dividing the kingdom? Is something trying to take their power while they are indisposed?
The known character names also hint at the plot. Along with a king and queen, likely Eilan’s parents, there are two ministers and two oracles. Will the teen have to visit the oracles for guidance on how to save the kingdom? Could the ministers provide guidance as well?
Spellbound: The Cast
Rachel Zegler will voice Princess Ellian. The actress is known for her debut breakout role in West Side Story opposite Ansel Elgort. Since then, she’s signed on to play Snow White in Disney’s live-action version of the classic film, one of the leads in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, and will be in the forthcoming Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
Additional cast members include Nicole Kidman as Queen Ellsmere (Big Little Lies, Being the Ricardos), Javier Bardem (Dune, mother!) as King Solon, John Lithgow (Interstellar, Pet Sematary) as Minister Bolinar, Jenifer Lewis (The Princess and the Frog, Cars) as Minister Nazara Prone, Nathan Lane (Only Murders in the Building, Modern Family) as The Oracle of the Sun, André De Shields (Katy Keene, Uncoupled) as The Oracle of the Moon, and Jordan Fisher (To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, Work It) as Callan.
With portions of the cast announced just a few months ago, it’s unlikely interested audiences will see the film this year. It’s more likely that it will release in 2023 or 2024.
Everything Else We Know
Fans of Disney music should be on the lookout. Spellbound has snagged a big name to compose its music. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed in 2020 that Alan Menken, Academy and Tony-awarding winning composer, was attached to the project. Audiences will know his work from Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, and both Aladdins. He is set to compose the score and write original songs for the animated movie, so get ready to have a new soundtrack to add to your playlists.
Spellbound, originally announced as Split, was destined for a 2019 release. Several setbacks, including another name change to The Unbreakable Spell, caused the division’s second film, Luck, to become the first one released. The feature debuted on Apple TV+ in August to mixed reviews.
Luck and Spellbound are just beginning. Skydance Animation already had two more in production, likely with more on the way. The first is Pookoo comes from Nathan Greno, the director of Tangled. No details about the plot have been revealed. The second is Brad Bird’s Ray Gunn. Bird is known for his work on The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and The Iron Giant. The Wrap describes the project as “a retro-futuristic detective story.”
While you wait for Spellbound, take a trip through the decades with the best animated Disney movies over the years.