The Mitchells vs The Machines (Courtesy of Netflix)
At one point, Sony changed the name from “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” to “Connected,” but it has reverted back to its original title. Sony had planned to release the film theatrically before Netflix acquired worldwide rights. The deal, which excludes China, was reportedly hammered out for more than $100 million. Neither company has confirmed the production budget, but price tags for animated films generally range anywhere from $50 million to $100 million.
Mike Rianda wrote and directed the film with Jeff Rowe. “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is about an everyday family’s struggle to relate with each other while technology rises up around the world. The film centers on Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson), a creative type who gets accepted into her dream film school. Before she begins college, her dad (Danny McBride) decides that driving her to school is the perfect opportunity to bond as a family one last time. But as they unplug and hit the road, technology threatens their trip — and the Earth. The voice cast also includes Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre, Olivia Colman and Doug the Pug. Will Allegra and Louis Koo Tin Lok executive produced the film, while Kurt Albrecht served as a producer.
Netflix has not announced a release date for “The Mitchells vs. The Machines,” a film that Rianda calls “a very personal movie about my very weird family.”
“I’m so thrilled that everyone at Netflix has been totally in sync with us creatively and are just as excited about the movie as we are,” he said. “Not only because it’s an original story with a creative visual style that we’re extremely proud of, but also so I can prove to my friends that this five-year journey wasn’t an elaborate delusion on my part.”
Lord and Miller, whose film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” won the Oscar for best animated feature, had previously worked with Netflix on the one-season adult animated series “Hoops” starring Jake Johnson.
“We are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm Netflix has expressed for this movie with this acquisition and grateful to everyone at Sony for making a great picture with us and finding a big way to bring it to audiences,” Lord and Miller said in a statement. “We’re really proud of the film we all made together, plus we understand our subscription fees are waived in perpetuity as part of the deal? We’re not lawyers but it does sound right to us.”
Netflix has been an active buyer during the pandemic, acquiring traditional studio movies such as Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Paramount’s “SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run” internationally and another Sony animated title “Wish Dragon.” In recent years, the streamer has made a concerted effort to ramp up kids and family programming.
“We want Netflix to be the place where families can come and enjoy stories together,” Netflix’s VP of Original Animation Melissa Cobb said. “And while we know no two families are the same, we think the Mitchells will immediately endear themselves to yours. It’s an honor to work with Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Mike Rianda to bring this incredibly special film to members around the world.”
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Variety's Rebecca Rubin contributed to this post.