Netflix’s Hidden Gem: The Movie Disney Missed, Now a Fan Favorite After YouTube Release

    Nimona was nearly discarded permanently in 2021.

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    Oscar candidate Nimona, one of Netflix’s best animated films, may have recently gone viral on YouTube following an unexpected, limited-edition, free distribution on the platform, but back in 2021, the movie was all but abandoned.

    On February 19, the film—which is nominated for this year’s Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature—went up for free on YouTube for a week. In that time, co-director Troy Quane tweeted that it had received 3 million views.

    But Nimona nearly didn’t have a release at all. The rights to Stevenson’s graphic novel were purchased by 20th Century Fox Animation in 2015, with plans for a 2020 release and production by Fox subsidiary Blue Sky Studios. But Disney’s 2019 acquisition of Fox put a wrench in the plans. After the merger, Nimona’s release date was rescheduled to 2021 and then 2022. However, in February 2021, Disney announced that Blue Sky Studios would be closing, and Nimona was removed off Disney’s original release plan.

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    But in April 2022, word leaked out that Netflix will distribute the film in 2023, and that Annapurna Pictures had acquired the film. Directors Bruno and Quane were brought in; they had already worked on the story of the movie. Nimona debuted in June 2023 at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival before becoming available on Netflix later that same month.

    The film centers on Ballister Boldheart (voiced by Riz Ahmed), a disgraced knight who is falsely accused of a crime he did not commit and is set in a futuristic medieval setting. Unfortunately for Ballister, Nimona (Chloë Grace Moretz), a cunning, shape-shifting creature that he has been trained to destroy, is the only one who can assist in proving his innocence. With a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it was well-received by reviewers and received accolades for its portrayal of the LGBT community.

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    Nick Bruno and Quane codirect the film, which is based on ND Stevenson’s graphic novel of the same name. RuPaul, Indya Moore from Pose, and Frances Conroy from Six Feet Under are among the cast members.

    Netflix continues to stream Nimona, despite its removal from YouTube. To add more to your watch list, see our selections of the top Netflix films.

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