Williams’ career with Disney began in 1998, where he worked for the story department on Mulan. He also worked on other features for the studio, including The Emperor’s New Groove and Brother Bear. In 2008, he co-directed Bolt with Byron Howard. He later co-directed Big Hero 6 and Moana with Don Hall. Williams also serves as executive producer with Jennifer Lee and John Lasseter on this year’s Ralph Breaks The Internet. He is a multiple Oscar nominee, having won one Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2015 with Big Hero 6.
Related: What’s Next in Netflix’s Future?
According to THR, Williams is now leaving Disney and heading to Netflix, where he will write and direct the animated film Jacob and the Sea Beast, a story about a sea explorer who befriends a sea monster. The movie will offer Williams his first shot at a solo credit as director. Williams said of the movie and the opportunity to work at Netflix:
“Jacob and the Sea Beast is the kind of story I’ve always wanted to take on. It’s a tale of high adventure where our hero leaves the known world and ventures out into uncharted waters. As it turns out, I’m doing the same thing. I’m grateful for the opportunities provided by my former creative home and am excited to leap into a new environment.”
Although Netflix has sealed its reputation as a world-class provider of original content for TV, it still hasn’t created many movies that could compete with bigger Hollywood fare. The company seems to want to focus on more quality movies, though, and this announcement proves that Netflix is serious about its future as a company that can provide films as good as its TV shows. The company had a successful year in 2018, with its TV shows winning Emmys, one of its documentary films scoring an Oscar and other projects earning awards at the Venice Film Festival. Netflix’s fans also love the company, with millions of people all over the world streaming content from Netflix servers. A recent report shows that Netflix continues to grow, too: the company plans on adding 27.4 million subscribers in 2018.
This year, Netflix released 67 original movies, with its romantic comedies becoming some of the most popular on the service. With Disney launching its own streaming service, Netflix’s relationship with Disney is now tenuous at best. It seems that Netflix understands it needs to continue to offer original content to viewers, with some of that content being first class movies. Jacob and the Sea Beast will offer an essential step in helping Netflix compete with Disney’s more family-friendly programming, and tapping a Disney employee to helm the project is a smart move to keep the company relevant for a future without Disney content.