Abandoned by Paramount, “The Little Prince” Ends Up at Netflix
French thinker Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s popular novella The Little Prince uses the story of a young boy and a grounded pilot as a portal to hidden worlds of profound emotion, conjuring loneliness, sadness, and helplessness from simple language and potent symbols. And so it was weirdly fitting when, a mere week before the film adaptation’s scheduled release, Paramount abruptly dropped it from their slate and pulled it from theaters. Not unlike le petit prince himself, Mark Osborne’s animated rendering of the beloved story was abandoned and left to float around in the vast expanse of the film marketplace. This story has a more straightforwardly happy ending than de Saint-Exupéry’s, though — Netflix has now picked up the rights to the film.
Carving out a small crumb of their staggering $6 billion content budget in 2016, Netflix has nabbed the rights to The Little Prince with plans to give the film a release through their online-streaming platform, though whether that will accompany a theatrical release has yet to be determined. Deadline notes that everyone involved has kept very tight-lipped about the behind-the-scenes causes for this huge shake-up, speculating that legal agreement may have bound the salient parties to secrecy. So there’s really no telling how or why this all happened, leaving a big question mark on what sounded like a project with plenty of appeal.
Though French, The Little Prince is still widely read, and the producers wrangled an all-star cast of voice talent to lend their familiar tones to the characters, including Jeff Bridges, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Benicio del Toro, Paul Giamatti, Albert Brooks, and Ricky Gervais. Add in some fantastical visuals to ravish parents and children alike, and this shouldn’t be a hard film to sell. Hopefully, someday soon, this will all be explained.