Former Disney Composer Alan Menken Signs Onto Skydance Animation’s “Spellbound” Feature Film

Even though Skydance Animation was only founded in 2017, it has still made waves in the entertainment industry despite its young age. It did so first by hiring John Lasseter – the genius behind some of the most groundbreaking films in the history of animation like “Toy Story” and “The Incredibles,” among others. It saw the release of its first feature film, titled “Luck,” in 2022. Apple Studios distributed it.

It seems poised to make an impact again with the impending 2024 release of “Spellbound.” While little is known about the project, its director Vicky Jenson recently confirmed that musical legend Alan Menken would contribute new songs for the film.

Skydance Animation and John Lasseter Bring “Spellbound” to the World

“Spellbound” is set in a fantasy world known as Lumbria. Ellian, a young girl, is tasked with breaking an unfortunate spell that has split her kingdom. The all-star voice cast includes Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem and notable names like John Lithgow, Nathan Lane, and Rachel Zegler, to name a few.

As was true with the first film that Skydance Animation developed in partnership with John Lasseter, much of the “Spellbound” production has been shrouded in secrecy. That’s why it was such a big deal when the film’s director announced that it would be a musical and feature original songs by composer Alan Menken.

One of the earliest hits in Menken’s long and storied career came in 1986 when he helped compose songs (with lyrics by Howard Ashman) for the film “Little Shop of Horrors,” directed by Frank Oz. He acted in the same capacity on some of the biggest hits of the late 1980s and early 1990s, including but not limited to ones like “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas,” and “Hercules,” just to name a few.

He even composed a notable song for the film “Captain America: The First Avenger,” which allowed him to get in on the ground floor of the renowned Marvel Cinematic Universe.

One of the new songs that Alan Menken has composed for “Spellbound” is said to be a ballad. It’s a number designed to pull directly at the audience’s heartstrings, which he has proven to be an expert at over the years.

Regarding “Spellbound” itself, it has been reported that most animation is being completed outside of the Skydance Animation Madrid location. Here, a bevy of talented artists, animators, and other creative professionals have already spent time developing the unique look of the fantasy kingdom. According to the director, it has been inspired by ancient Spain’s architecture.

About Skydance Animation

Skydance Animation made international headlines in 2019 when it hired John Lasseter as its new Head of Animation. In addition to the films mentioned earlier, Lasseter was directly involved in the productions of “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc,” “Finding Nemo,” “Ratatouille,” “WALL-E,” and others. Animation as a creative medium would look significantly different without his contributions.

In addition to John Lasseter, it should be noted that many other animation industry titans are developing projects with Skydance Animation. One of the most notable is Brad Bird, who became a legend via his work at Pixar and was one of the original creatives behind “The Simpsons.” He has had a project called “Ray Gunn” that was in development for years that finally seems ready to become a reality thanks to Skydance Animation.

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