Wendell & Wild: Everything We Know So Far

Director Henry Selick has delighted and terrified multiple generations of kids — along with more than a few adults, no doubt — with his stop-motion animated fantasy movies "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Coraline." He's also the director behind the well-liked "James and the Giant Peach" and "Monkeybone," which may be the most bizarre $75 million comedy you've never seen. Now, after years of working on films that fell apart in pre-production like "The Shadow King" and a big-screen take on "Coraline" author Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book," Selick is coming back with "Wendell & Wild." An original project, the stop-motion horror-comedy combines Selick's talents with those of Keegan-Michael Key and his "Key & Peele" co-creator-turned-Oscar-winning filmmaker, Jordan Peele, in more ways than one.

Will "Wendell & Wild" prove to be an inspired match of twisted creative styles? Only time will tell, but it certainly has a lot going for it on paper. Here's a rundown of everything we know about the movie so far.

When and where to watch Wendell & Wild

Stop-motion films are not only labor-heavy and expensive, but they've usually made far less money at the box office than other types of animated movies, as evidenced by a quick rundown of the numbers at Box Office Mojo. It's why stop-motion animation studio Laika has struggled to stay afloat financially since it released "Coraline" in 2009, in spite of all the love its films have gotten from critics since then. Similarly, Aardman Animations saw its 2018 stop-motion prehistoric comedy "Early Man" bomb in theaters before entering a working relationship with Netflix, starting with "A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon."

Netflix is also behind "Wendell & Wild," a film it formally acquired in March 2018, nearly two-and-a-half years after the news broke that Selick, Key, and Peele were teaming up to make it. The movie is now set to begin streaming on the service in October 2022, or about two months before another long-developing stop-motion film, Guillermo del Toro's "Pinocchio," makes its debut on the global streaming giant. For all the valid criticisms one could make of Netflix, I do appreciate the role it's playing in keeping the art of stop-motion animation alive and thriving.

What we think Wendell & Wild will be about

The film's synopsis describes "Wendell & Wild" as a story about the titular duo, a pair of "scheming demon brothers" who get pulled into "a brilliantly bizarre and comedic adventure like no other" after convincing a 13-year-old named Kat to summon them to the Land of the Living. It's a premise that hints at a lot more strangeness to come, like the reverse-insect-squishing-cream gag seen in the movie's teaser trailer. Having Key and Peele involved as co-writers will surely help in that respect, given how darkly comical their "Key & Peele" skits could get. (To mention nothing of Peele's solo scripts for "Get Out," "Us," and the upcoming "Nope.")

Speaking at the 2020 Annecy International Animation Film Festival (via Variety), Selick explained that Peele, in particular, played a major role in shaping the final version of the story for "Wendell & Wild":

"I reached out to [Peele] and talked about the idea for the project, and meeting and getting to collaborate with him as well as Keegan-Michael Key, has been a dream come true for me. 'Wendell and Wild' was an old idea for me, and Jordan wanted to come on as more than just voice talent. He wanted to collaborate, to be a producer, to work on story and writing, and the project has changed in so many good ways as a result of working with him."

What we know about the Wendell & Wild cast and crew

Joining Key (Wendell), Peele (Wild), and "This Is Us" alum Lyric Ross (Kat) in the "Wendell & Wild" cast are Angela Bassett ("Black Panther") as Sister Helley, Ving Rhames (the "Mission: Impossible" films) as the demon Buffalo Belzer, relative newcomer Sam Zelaya as Raul, Seema Virdi ( who's also a storyboard artist on the movie) as Sloane, Tamara Smart ("A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting") as Siobhan, Ramona Young ("Never Have I Ever") as Sweetie, and voice acting icon James Hong ("Turning Red") as Father Bests. Other cast members include Natalie Martinez, Tantoo Cardinal, Gabrielle Dennis, Igal Naor, David Harewood, Maxine Peake, and Gary Gatewood.

Behind the camera, Selick directed "Wendell & Wild" from a script he co-wrote with Key, Peele, and Clay McLeod Chapman ("The Boy"), based on Selick's screen story. The movie further reunites Selick with composer Bruno Coulais, who joined forces with the Children's Choir of Nice to produce the beguiling music for "Coraline" and, more recently, crafted the similarly magical score for "Wolfwalkers." (As you can surely tell, I'm a fan of his work.) Other noteworthy crew members include director of photography Peter Sorg, who served as a lighting cameraman on "Coraline" all those years ago.