‘The Little Prince’ Picked Up By Netflix

Movie lovers can breathe a sigh of relief as one of the most highly-anticipated films of the year — the animated version of the much-loved French book, The Little Prince, will be screened, albeit on a small one.

Paramount Pictures quietly dropped the theatrical release of The Little Prince from its schedule to the dismay of all film lovers everywhere, but the U.S. internet television network Netflix has taken up the animated adaption of the much-loved 1943 French classic by Antoine de Saint Expury, presumably for release on its network later this year.

The film was scheduled to be released in the U.S. today, but its distributor, Paramount, inexplicably dropped the film just a week ago, despite fantastic press, glowing preview reviews including wowing its audience at Cannes, and a very successful trailer that’s been viewed more than 3 million times since its release in April, 2015.

The screen adaption of the children’s book classic was already being hailed as a success. The CGI and stop motion feast for the eyes has been praised by critics for its beauty. It won France’s Cesar Award for best animated film last month and was rolling along nicely with the momentum of a promisingly successful international run, with The Hollywood Reporter reporting it to be grossing a stunning $100 million already so far. That’s excluding the considerable markets of the U.K., Australia, Scandinavia, and Spain, where it is yet to be released. Paramount’s French arm has already released the film in France to much acclaim and such barnstorming box-office success that it was announced officially as the highest-grossing animated film in France to date. In a film-loving population like France, that’s a big deal.

It’s not without its stars, too. A French and American collaboration, The Little Prince features the vocal talents of Hollywood heavyweights Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Ricky Gervais, and Benicio del Toro.

It details the tale of an aviator stranded in the desert who tries to explain the world to a young prince fallen to Earth from an asteroid. A tiny little thing, it captures the hearts of both children and adults alike as its allegorical nature allows for a deeply insightful reading.

The director, Mark Osborne (MORE, Kung Fu Panda), was reportedly reluctant to take on the iconic tale, calling it “too precious and too important to the people who read it” to make a big Hollywood movie out of such a small intimate book, until he had an epiphany about how to tell it.

“I realized there was this incredible opportunity to tell a story about how powerful the book can be in somebody’s life,” he told Animation Magazine in a feature on how the film was made, and he went back to the estate holders with the idea to tell a larger story in the more blockbuster-esque CGI style, but the book itself in the more crafty, artisan style of stop motion. “That idea never got shot down.”

Osbourne announced the news of the dropping in a series of tweets last week.

“Many thanks to everyone for the outpouring of love and support in these strange times. As it turns out, the much anticipated U.S. release of this special and unique film will have to be anticipated just a little bit more.”

The Oscar-nominated director hinted that there would be an announcement of a U.S. release, and it’s still unclear as to whether Netflix will release it in cinemas. The mysterious silence surrounding the sudden dropping of the film from Paramount’s schedule may have something to do with a legal agreement binding the parties to secrecy, speculates Screen Crush.

Multiple inquiries to the filmmaking team of Mark Osbourne and his producers, Dimitri Rassam and Aton Soumache, were reportedly “met with stoney silence” according to Deadline, seeming to confirm a backroom legal agreement.

Watch the trailer for The Little Prince here.

[Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images for Santa Barbara International Film Festival]