Longtime collaborators John Lasseter and Alan Menken will once again combine forces for an upcoming animated film.
The two Academy Award winners will be collaborating on the forthcoming Skydance Animation feature known as “Spellbound.”
Menken and lyricist Glen Slater have teamed up to create several original songs for the upcoming movie. Director Vicky Jenson recently announced Menken’s participation and played excerpts from the soundtrack at the Annecy International Film Festival.
“Spellbound” features a star-studded voice cast, including Rachel Zegler, Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, John Lithgow, Jenifer Lewis, Tituss Burgess, and Nathan Lane. It tells the story of a magical kingdom that has had an evil spell cast upon it and the heroic efforts of a princess, voiced by Zegler, to save the day.
John Lasseter, head of animation for Skydance, is one of the film’s producers. Lasseter and Menken have crossed paths before. John Lasseter served as an executive producer for “Tangled.” The film featured Menken’s song “I See the Light,” which earned an Oscar for Best Song nomination.
The unveiling event that took place at the film festival featured two pieces by Menken. One is a rousing opening number that sets the stage for the story. The other is a heartstring-tugging ballad sung by Zegler.
Jenson is herself an Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature (“Shrek”) in 2001. She also directed “Shark Tale” in 2004.
About Alan Menken
Alan Menken has won eight Academy Awards by penning music for some of the biggest animated hits. He also won a Tony Award, 11 Grammy Awards, and a Daytime Emmy Award. He is one of only 18 people to have achieved an EGOT as the winner of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards.
In April 2020, Menken announced that he was working on a project with Lasseter and Skydance Animation.
He graduated from New York University and worked in a variety of musical outlets. His work involved writing commercial jingles, arranging, and songwriting for “Sesame Street,” serving as a vocal coach and accompanying ballet and modern dance.
He joined the Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) Musical Theatre Workshop and created works that could be used in Broadway shows. He composed music for multiple musical revues, including several that appeared Off-Broadway.
Menken collaborated with playwright Howard Ashman to write “Little Shop of Horrors,” which eventually landed on Broadway and was made into a 1986 feature film. A song from that film won Menken his first Oscar nod.
“Little Shop of Horrors” got Menken a job writing the music for Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” which signaled the so-called Disney Renaissance. Menken won two Oscars for his work on the film, for Best Song (“Under the Sea”) and Best Score.
He went on to compose the scores for several of Disney’s biggest hits—“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” “Newsies,” “Pocahontas,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and “Hercules.”
He has regularly composed songs or scores for television and Broadway.
About Skydance Animation
Skydance Animation was founded in 2017 and is based in Los Angeles. Its first film, “Luck,” was released on Apple TV+ in 2022.
In 2019, Skydance hired John Lasseter, former head of Pixar and Disney Animation, as head of animation. It formed a multi-year partnership with Ilion Animation Studios in Madrid, now the site of Skydance’s European operations.
Lasseter is a legendary leader in animation. His work as director and/or producer has led to some of the most popular and successful animated features of all time. Among his works are “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Toy Story 2,” “WALL-E,” “Finding Nemo,” “Cars,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” and “Frozen.”
“Spellbound” will be released on Apple TV+ in 2024, though no specific release date has been announced.