If you have kids – or were a fan of The Little Prince when you were young – you might have noticed the stunning trailers for the recent French film that was to be released in the United States today. If the dazzling stop motion/3D animated trailer piqued your interest, you’ve likely also noticed that The Little Prince is absent from every US movie theater’s schedule for this weekend. Unfortunately, the film’s theatrical release was cancelled just days before it was set premiere in theaters. Fortunately, audiences can soon catch the film when it moves to a much smaller screen.
Based on the beloved novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince is directed by acclaimed writer/animator/director Mark Osborne; the creative mind behind Kung Fu Panda, as well as both SpongeBob SquarePants movies. While the film is not a direct adaptation of the novella, it features the aviator from the book as he relates the tales of the little prince to his overworked, uptight young neighbor. Despite the objections of her mother, the young girl discovers a world of beauty and adventure. When the aviator becomes ill, the girl embarks on her own adventure to find the little prince.
The English language version of the film features an all-star cast, including Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Ricky Gervais, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotiallard, and Benicio Del Toro. Since The Little Prince was released in France last summer, it has receive France’s Cesar Award for Best Animated Film, as well as becoming the country’s must successful animated film abroad of all time; even surpassing 2003 Oscar-nominee The Triplets of Belleville.
So why, despite the film’s tremendous success, did it suddenly get pulled from American theaters? That’s because – despite numerous promises, deals, and contracts to promote and release the film – Paramount Pictures suddenly decided not to. While the decision perplexed expectant audiences, it astounded The Little Prince’s cast, crew, and financiers. Many of the financial backers of the film participated on the condition that Paramount would distribute the film for a wide, US theatrical release, which will now not happen. That means people that were expecting to earn box office revenue from the movie are now left in the lurch.
However, that doesn’t mean the cast and crew will earn nothing from the American release of the film; or that The Little Prince won’t have his chance in the sun. Netflix bought the rights to the film, which means members will be able to enjoy the film right from their homes; and probably very soon. With the film already complete and (presumably) ready for distribution, it should be available on Netflix in the near future. However, the heartwarming, visually brilliant film won’t reach as wide an audience as it would in theaters, and the filmmakers will earn far, far less than their ambitious effort is worth.