Last March, Netflix announced a new Asterix series coming to the streamer in 2023. It will be based on “Asterix and the Big Fight” and will have Alain Chabat as its showrunner. Chabat wrote and directed the live-action movie, “Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra,” in 2002. (It is, of course, not available anywhere to stream, rent, or purchase digitally.)
Netflix made the announcement by cutely repurposing the original “Asterix and the Big Fight” announcement page.
It will be a 3D animated production, which is the fancy way of saying they’re animating it in the computer. Rig up a bunch of models, let the animators be puppeteers, and then add textures, lighting, and atmosphere to make it look fancy.
I think that’s the best way to go with Asterix. The live-action movies that I’ve seen have their charms, but animation is what Asterix looks and feels best in.
A couple more details came out in an article from BFMTV.com this week.
The series will run five half-hour episodes.
The article indicates it will start streaming in 2024. If true, that’s pushing the series back from its initial 2023 planned release. I wouldn’t doubt that it is possible and likely probable. COVID restrictions and general production difficultie could for this for any series these days.
Netflix isn’t giving out a firm date, either:
An animation studio in Toulouse, France named “TAT” will be doing what translates out to “graphic design” for the show. I’m not entirely sure what that means — will they be doing the design work, but not the animation? Are they a concept studio? Or is this just a terminology thing and they are the animation studio for the series?
You can’t take translations too seriously here. There are specific terms for jobs like this that just don’t literally translate for Google.
Whatever it is, this is creating a hiring boom for TAT. Their website is asking for applications to fill 60 roles for the production of “Asterix” and three other feature films they’re working on.
The article also says that Netflix worked with Albert René Editions to narrow the list of studios down to 3, which they presented to Chabat. He picked TAT.
One Other BD Connection
There’s a companion article to this one with a look back at “Mission: Cleopatra” on its 20th anniversary. A couple of interesting points:
Alan Chabat initially met with producers in 1999 because he wanted to adapt one of two Spirou stories for the big screen, “Shadow of the Z” or “Z Is For Zorglub“. They basically told him he was out of his mind and they couldn’t possible make those movies. I wonder if their answers would be different today, given further advancements in special effects.
Chabat wound up making the Asterix movie, instead. He also would years later direct and star in a Marsupilami movie (“Houba! On the Trail of Marsupilami”) which is available on Amazon Prime for streaming.
Dear Netflix, Give Me the Asterix Movies! Love, Augie
If Netflix becomes the home of Asterix, they should go grab the rights to all the previous movies for their service, starting with “Mission: Cleopatra,” which they can advertise as being “From the Director of Netflix’s Asterix” now.
Most of the Asterix movies — including 8 of the last 9! — aren’t available on any streaming services in America at all. Discs need to be imported from other countries, for goodness’ sake.
It’s time for Netflix to step up and fill this cultural gap!
One Other Asterix Media Update
“Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom” (formerly titled “The Silk Road”) is a live action movie currently in production. It takes our favorite Gauls all the way to China, even if COVID issues kept them from filming there.
Shooting finished in August 2021.
It is currently scheduled for a February 2023 release.
I am not expecting to see this get an American release, either.
Variety describes it like this:
“The movie will revolve around the only daughter of the Chinese Emperor Han Xuandi, who escapes from the grips of a rogue prince and runs off to Gaul, seeking help from two valiant warriors, Asterix and Obelix, who have gained superpowers thanks to a magic potion.”
Also, Cleopatra is played by Marion Cotillard, who you might remember as Talia Al Ghul in “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”, Christopher Nolan’s last movie in that trilogy.
There was never even a Blu-ray release for “Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion.”
They have it better in Canada, but the United States gets nearly nothing.
I have to imagine that this is part of Netflix’s plans. I’d hope they’d want to grease the wheels a bit and add these movies in advance of the new limited series, just to raise interest. On the other hand, I could also see them saying they want their Asterix to be the initial impression of the character for their viewers. In that case, they’re better off only spending money on the movies if they need something to keep people going until the second series is ready.