The family friendly film was initially scheduled to release in cinemas on June 4. But Sony Pictures, the studio that originally backed “Vivo,” has opted to forgo a theatrical release and instead licensed the project to Netflix. It’s unclear when it will debut on the streaming service.
Sony Pictures will retain all rights in China, along with home entertainment and linear television rights everywhere else, following periods of exclusivity on Netflix.
Netflix recently signed a lucrative deal with Sony, which gives the streamer exclusive U.S. rights to the studio’s theatrical releases in the first pay TV window. In addition, Netflix has a first-look deal with Sony’s offerings. However, the pact doesn’t commence until 2022 so it doesn’t include the sale of “Vivo.”
“Vivo” was directed by “The Croods” filmmaker Kirk DeMicco and co-directed by Brandon Jeffords. Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the book for Miranda’s “In The Heights,” has co-written the screenplay with DeMicco.
The animated musical adventure follows a unique kinkajou (a.k.a. a rainforest “honey bear,” voiced by Miranda), who spends his days playing music to the crowds in a lively Havana square with his beloved owner Andrés. Though they may not speak the same language, Vivo and Andrés are the perfect duo through their common love of music. But when tragedy strikes shortly after Andrés receives a letter from the famous Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan), inviting her old partner to her farewell concert in Miami with the hope of reconnecting, it’s up to Vivo to deliver a message that Andrés never could: A love letter to Marta, written long ago, in the form of a song. Yet in order to get to the distant shores of Miami, Vivo will need to accept the help of Gabi (newcomer Ynairaly Simo) — an energetic teen who bounces to the beat of her own offbeat drum. The voice cast also includes Zoe Saldana, Brian Tyree Henry and Nicole Byer.
“Bringing Vivo to life has been an incredible artistic journey. I couldn’t ask for better creative partners than Kirk, Quiara, Alex and the entire team at Sony Animation,” Miranda said. “I’m so excited Vivo will have a home at Netflix, where kids of all ages will be able to enjoy the film’s songs and adventures again and again.”
Netflix has been growing its slate of animated films, including “SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run,” “The Mitchells vs The Machines” and “The Willoughbys.” The company’s VP of original animation Melissa Cobb praised “Vivo” for celebrating “the universal language of music to families around the world.”
“‘Vivo’ is full of comedy and heart. We’re excited to introduce families to the incredible cast of characters led by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who lends his voice to a lead animated feature role for the first time,” Cobb said.
“Vivo” isn’t the first movie musical from Miranda that skipped theaters in favor of streaming. The live-recorded version of “Hamilton” was supposed to play on the big screen, but instead debuted on Disney Plus last July.
Cinemas won’t be entirely devoid of Miranda’s creative offerings. “In the Heights,” an adaptation of his first Broadway show, is arriving in theaters on June 11.
Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.