Netflix has bought the US rights to The Little Prince, after Paramount suddenly and mysteriously dropped the animated film just a week before it was scheduled to be released in the country (today, March 18). Netflix has not yet said when Americans can expect to see the film on the streaming service, but at least it has found a home.
Based on the beloved French children’s novella of the same name, The Little Prince debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last year, where it drew rave reviews. Since then, it has been released in several countries, grossing about $100 million in ticket sales. Its star-studded voice cast includes Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Giamatti, Marion Cotillard, Ricky Gervais, James Franco, Benicio del Toro, and Paul Rudd.
Paramount has not explained why it decided to pull the acclaimed film from its schedule—but that hasn’t stopped the internet from speculating. It’s possible that the distributor was worried that the delicate French children’s story, along with the film’s unique stop-motion visuals, wouldn’t play well for American audiences. Or perhaps Paramount didn’t think the film could compete with Disney’s Zootopia, which has dominated the US box office since early March.
Whatever the reason, Netflix is apparently not concerned. That’s not surprising, given the company’s spending power: It will spend $6 billion on content in 2016 alone.
The streaming service has quickly developed a reputation as a savior of TV shows that have little in common other than being beloved by niche audiences. It brought back the cult sitcom Arrested Development in 2013 after it was cancelled by Fox seven years earlier. It saved Degrassi after TeenNick ended the show’s 14-season run. It bought the rights to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt after NBC reportedly had no idea what to do with the Tina Fey-created comedy. It has revived other cancelled shows, like The Killing and Longmire, and has rebooted several others, including Gilmore Girls and Full House.
The Little Prince, though, is the first major film that Netflix has rescued. It fits perfectly into the company’s content acquisition strategy, which is to maximize customization and cater to countless different types of audiences.
The streaming service, it seems, is our cultural safety net. Other streaming services, like Hulu, have gotten in on the rescuing too. The physical world’s loss is the internet’s gain.