Netflix commissions new animation from Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon

Nora Twomey, Oscar nominee for ‘The Breadwinner’, will direct ‘My Father’s Dragon’

Nora Twomey of Cartoon Saloon. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Nora Twomey of Cartoon Saloon. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill


Netflix has commissioned Cartoon Saloon, the world-beating Kilkenny-based animation house, to produce a new feature entitled My Father’s Dragon. Nora Twomey, who received an Oscar nomination earlier this year for Cartoon Saloon’s The Breadwinner, will direct the adaptation of Ruth Stiles Gannett’s much-admired children’s novel.

“To have the kind of creative encouragement Netflix are providing is an incredible opportunity for our filmmaking team,” Twomey said. “We are all so excited to bind our skills together and begin My Father’s Dragon.”

First published in 1948, the book concerns a young boy who attempts to rescue a dragon from the remote Wild Island. It has remained a favourite of American educators ever since.

The experienced Meg LeFauve, Oscar-nominated for her work on Pixar’s Inside Out, is to write the screenplay. Alan Moloney and Ruth Coady of Parallel Films, the company behind Mary Shelley and The Siege of Jadotville, will co-produce with Cartoon Saloon.

The news was included in Netflix’s announcement of six new animated releases. Among the flashiest projects in the studio’s current slate is Guillermo del Toro’s much-anticipated take on Pinocchio.

Riding high after his Oscar win for The Shape of Water, the Mexican director will use stop-motion animation for his adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s 19th century novel. That film is expected to arrive (and surely compete against My Father’s Dragon for more Academy Awards) in 2021.

Netflix also announced Maya and the Three, a fantasy directed by Jorge Gutierrez, who delivered the eye-popping The Book of Life in 2014. Go! Go! Cory Carson is a pre-school series from Kuku Studios in California.

Henry Selick, director of Nightmare before Christmas, returns with the intriguing Wendell & Wild. Fans of the Powerpuff Girls will be happy to hear that Craig McCracken, creator of that delightful show, is producing a new animated series entitled Kid Cosmic.

“We’re trying to take the Netflix philosophy of empowering creators and bring that into the animation space,” Melissa Cobb, in charge of children and family programming at Netflix, told Variety. “We’re not focused on creating a singular brand identity. We want to produce a broad range of content that appeals to kids and families all over the world.”

Now able to boast three Oscar nominations for best animated feature – The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea also competed – Cartoon Saloon is comfortable in such exalted company. The company has also had success with such TV shows as Skunk Fu! and Puffin Rock.