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Taika Waititi has exited as the director of Netflix’s stop-motion animated movie Bubbles, which tells the story of Michael Jackson‘s longtime chimpanzee, and Collider has confirmed that Netflix has pulled out of the project as well.
Cartoon Brew broke the news, reporting that scheduling conflicts with WB’s Akira forced Waititi to exit Bubbles, and with the director no longer involved, Netflix also decided to step away. An individual familiar with the streaming service’s thinking told Collider that “Taika didn’t have the bandwidth to devote to it, and since he was the big draw, it didn’t make sense to continue with another director. The producers are figuring out next steps.” Pre-production had been well under way at Dan Harmon‘s Starburns Industries, which produced the Oscar-nominated feature Anomalisa and referred all press inquiries regarding Bubbles to Netflix.
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According to Cartoon Brew, roughly two dozen people working on the film’s puppets and animation tests have already been let go, adding that some who were laid off recently turned down work on other stop motion projects for Netflix, including Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio and Henry Selick‘s Wendell and Wild.
Netflix acquired Bubbles for a reported $20 million back in 2017 and its executives were excited by the idea of working with Waititi, who was red-hot coming off of Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok. According to Cartoon Brew, Waititi’s exit prompted Netflix to get cold feet, though there may be another reason behind the streamer’s decision to pull the plug.
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