High School Musical franchise filmmaker Kenny Ortega has signed a multi-year overall deal with Netflix with his first two projects being a feature musical adaptation of Elise Primavera’s book series Auntie Claus, and the original series Julie and the Phantoms.
Ortega will direct and produce Auntie Claus (working title) which follows a young girl who is determined to get to the bottom of why her eccentric, Christmas-loving Aunt disappears every Christmas. Tiffany Paulsen will adapt (Holidate, Nancy Drew).
Julie and the Phantoms, which Ortega will executive produce, is a musical comedy series based on an International Emmy Award-nominated Brazilian television series. Julie is a teenage girl who finds her passion for music and life with the help of a high-concept band of three teen boys (The Phantoms) who have been dead for 25 years. Julie, in turn, helps them become the band they were never able to be. Dan Cross and David Hoge (The Thundermans, Pair of Kings) will serve as showrunners and EPs on the series, with George Salinas and Jaime Aymerich of Crossover Entertainment, as well as Michel Tikhomiroff and João Daniel of Mixer Entertainment. Jason La Padura and Natalie Hart (High School Musical and Descendants trilogies) are now casting the titular roles. Truman Alfaro will serve as Ortega’s development executive.
“Throughout the course of his career, Kenny Ortega has inspired generations of artists and audiences alike. That he has chosen to make Netflix his creative home to work on both feature films and series is thrilling. We can’t wait to see what he brings to Netflix to delight musical-loving families and audiences around the globe,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.
“As a fan of Netflix and their dynamic range of high quality content, I am thrilled to begin a creative relationship with the company. I’m super excited about the projects we already have in development and the shared enthusiasm I feel from the company. l look forward to this new Netflix collaboration with the highest hopes,” said Ortega.
Ortega’s work as a producer, director and choreographer have earned him three Primetime Emmys: two for Outstanding Choreography (High School Musical, XIX Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony) and one in the Variety/Music/Comedy Program Directing category (XIX Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony). He is also a two-time DGA award winner in the Children’s Program section for High School Musical and Descendants. Ortega directed and choreographed international hits including the Descendants trilogy, Newsies, and Hocus Pocus, and choreographed classic films including Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Pretty in Pink, among others. When Disney’s High School Musical 3 made its jump from TV to the big screen, the feature surprised opening to $42M at the domestic B.O. and racking up close to $252M globally off an $11M budget. Ortega directed the Michael Jackson doc about the pop legend’s final concert, This Is It, which grossed over $261M at the worldwide box office.
Ortega is represented by Paradigm and Barry Littman at Hanson, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller and Gellman.
Dan Cross, David Hoge and Crossover are represented by Paradigm and Darren Trattner at Jackaway , Tyerman, Wertheimer, Austen, Mandelbaum Morris and Klein.