Among the new animated movies set to release on Netflix in 2024 is Ultraman, a new entry in the long-running Japanese superhero franchise. Here’s everything we know about who’s behind the project and where it is in development.
Note: This article was first published in June 2023 and has been updated to reflect new information.
Variety first announced this new animated feature film in May 2021. Alongside the initial announcement came a first look at the upcoming movie:
This isn’t the first time Netflix has delved into the Ultraman IP, with the streaming service being the exclusive home to the anime series that ran between 2019 and 2023 across three seasons, the final of which arrived in May 2023.
What to Expect from Netflix’s Ultraman Movie
Here’s what you can expect from the upcoming movie according to the official Netflix synopsis:
“Ultraman follows baseball superstar Ken Sato as he returns to his home country of Japan to pick up the mantle of Earth-defending superhero Ultraman. He soon finds more than he bargained for when he’s forced to raise the offspring of his greatest foe. Ken must go on a heroic journey, balancing parenthood, his estranged father, and the relentless Kaiju Defense Force to rise beyond his ego and discover what it truly means to be Ultraman.”
In an AMA on Twitter in July 2023, director Shannon Tindle revealed several key points about what we can expect from the new Netflix movie:
- There’ll be easter eggs for existing fans of the property but the “primary goal is to create something that everyone can connect with.”
- Beyond Ultraman itself, inspiration for the movie came from, “Manga, Tohoscope films, Godzilla, the film Moneyball, my wonderful team.”
- Parenthood would be a key theme throughout that “sometimes messy relationships between parents and children.”
- Teased a potential sequel suggesting that he’s got “more ideas”.
What Studios Are Working on Netflix’s Ultraman?
Netflix’s internal animation division is working on the project alongside Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in partnership with Tsuburaya Productions.
Operating since 1975, Industrial Light & Magic is behind some of the biggest movies in the past few decades not least Star Wars and Marvel projects. For Netflix, ILM has notably worked on the limited series Lost Ollie and The Sandman.
Tsuburaya Productions has been in business since the mid-1960s working primarily on the Ultraman IP over those years. They’ve produced over 40 various TV and movie entries in the world of Ultraman, both live-action and animated.
Who’s working on Netflix’s Ultraman movie?
Shannon Tindle serves as the director of the project, having previously released the excellent limited series Lost Ollie for Netflix with ILM. Tindle previously served as writer and character designer on Kubo and the Two Strings and worked in various positions on hits like Caroline, Turbo, and Megamind.
Speaking about the movie when it was first announced, Tindle said, “What began as an original story inspired by my love for Eiji Tsuburaya’s Ultraman somehow became an actual Ultraman film thanks to the incredible trust of the team at Tsuburaya Productions, and the support of the folks at Netflix Animation. We’ve assembled an all-star team and I can’t wait to share our unique take on Ultraman with the rest of the world.”
The director stated in late 2022 that the original idea for the movie that will release on Netflix will have taken “23 years” to get off the ground in total. The director said he originally wrote “a film inspired by Ultraman and developed it at another studio. When we parted ways, Netflix came along and asked if I’d like to adapt the original idea into an Ultraman film.”
John Aoshima will serve as co-director on the project, having first started as “Head of Story”. Before working on this project, the animation veteran worked on titles like Netflix’s Maya and the Three, Kubo and the Two Strings, DuckTales and Gravity Falls.
Both directors spoke about their passion for the project at the 2021 Tsuburaya Convention:
Tindle is writing on the project alongside Marc Haimes, who previously collaborated on Kubo and the Two Strings.
Tom Knott, Sean M. Murphy, and Lisa M. Poole are producers of the project.
Scot Blackwell Stafford will serve as the composer on the movie.
Of course, all animation projects ultimately require an army of people working on various stages of development and production. While by no means an extensive list, here are some of the people we’ve found working on the Ultraman feature film:
- Sunmin Inn as Art Director
- David Figliola as Previs Lead
- Rie Koga as Head of Story and Storyboard Artist
- Keiko Murayama as character art director
- Mark Anthony Austin as Previs Artist
- Michelle Shi as Creature TD
- Tim Adams as ILM Compositor
- Vinicius Favero as ILM Creature Modelleer
- Hayden Jones as ILM Visual Effects Supervisor
- Mathieu Vig as ILM Animation Supervisor
- Sean M. Murphy as ILM Visual Effects Producer
- Stefan Drury as ILM Executive Visual Effects Producer
- Jimmy Hieu Do as ILM Jr Motion Capture Technical Director
- Mandy Mok as ILM Lead Animator
- Julien Lasbleiz as as ILM Sequence Lead / Senior Lighting Artist
- Minako Tomigahara (Tomi) as Visual Development Artist
- Cristina Fabular as Production Coordinator
We showed a sneak peek of the film at work today. This is me surrounded by our brilliant creative leadership team. We also have a brilliant production team. #Ultraman #Netflix pic.twitter.com/iad2YIkjn4
— Shannon Tindle (@ShannonTindle_1) May 24, 2023
Who is cast in Netflix’s Ultraman movie?
Beyond the director’s doggo, no cast members have been announced as of yet.
However, Variety originally reported that the “plan is for a mix of Japanese and Western stars, coupled with a large number of below-the-line talent from Japan.”
When will Ultraman release on Netflix?
In April 2023, Netflix updated us with a broad 2024 release date for the movie as part of their animation 2023-24 slate reveal. Tindle has since clarified that the movie is aiming for Summer 2024 release date.
Other movies announced for a 2024 release included Thelma the Unicorn, In Your Dreams, and Saving Bikini Bottom.
The movie’s director is very active on Twitter and continuously posts behind-the-scenes insights into the movie’s creation.
Our first score spotting session on Ultraman! pic.twitter.com/hKyEKsKTJV
— Shannon Tindle (@ShannonTindle_1) April 26, 2023
In April 2023, for instance, the director shared, “We are 90% animated and 50% lit” adding that he also met with an “incredible potential collaborator.”
In July 2023, Tindle took to Twitter to share that they had “wrapped animation” on the new movie.
We have officially wrapped animation on Ultraman. To say I’m emotional is an understatement. I’ve worked with many of these animators since Ollie. The entire team brought their A-game EVERY DAY.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you @ILMVFX and the amazing Tony Fucile.
— Shannon Tindle (@ShannonTindle_1) July 6, 2023
We’ll keep you posted on all things Ultraman in the months and year to come as we lead up to its release date. Are you looking forward to checking out Ultraman on Netflix? Let us know in the comments.