Why was Nimona canceled by Disney? Explained

A still from Nimona (Image via Netflix)
A still from Nimona (Image via Netflix)

Nimona was released on Netflix on June 30, 2023, and following an extremely positive word of mouth, the film has been popular among the audiences. Based on the graphic novel of the same name by ND Stevenson, Nimona is directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, starring the voices of Chloe Grace Moretz and Riz Ahmed.

The story of Nimona sees a former knight named Ballister Boldheart (Ahmed) framed for the murder of Queen Valerin. He seeks the help of a shapeshifter named Nimona, who he was originally sworn to destroy. Audiences love the story, but before the film hit Netflix, it was originally canceled during its already-turbulent development.

Nimona was originally canceled by Disney when Blue Sky Studios shut down


It's hard to imagine a film like this getting canceled, but it actually almost didn't make it onto the screens. The comic on which the film is based was originally released as a webcomic back in 2015, and its film rights were acquired then by 20th Century Fox, who wanted to adapt the book as an animated feature film.

Fox was quick to assign Blue Sky Studios, the Fox-owned animation studio, to the job. So the production began, with Patrick Osbourne hired to direct the film. However, in 2019 the famous Walt Disney and 20th Century Fox merger happened. Disney took over Fox, and the film's production took a massive hit.

The movie, which had already suffered many delays, was finally shelved by February 2021 after almost being 75% completed. At the same time, COVID also hit the world, and the entirety of Blue Sky Studios was shut down as well - a move described as heartbreaking by director Osbourne and writer ND Stevenson.

Following the film's cancellation, an anonymous employee from Blue Sky released a statement to BuzzFeedNews expressing how the film's shelving affected them.

""[That] is heartbreaking because we are not only losing our jobs, we’re losing our family, our workplace, we’re losing the closure of being able to send Nimona out into the world, where it could change kids' lives," the statement read.

Reports about how the movie featured some heavy queer elements that reportedly made Disney uncomfortable also began to emerge. In a Business Insider article, former Blue Sky staff members talked about how there was "pressure" from Disney originally to leave out these elements and that a "weird" atmosphere at the studio was created.

If released the way it was originally, it would have been the first film to include a gay kiss in a mainstream Disney film. The main character herself had gender-fluid elements that created a diverse character. Disney would then receive criticism from mainstream media for this.

Thankfully, a year later, the project was revived once again, with Annapurna Pictures picking up the project. Chloe Grace Moretz and Riz Ahmed were cast, and the film was finally released on Netflix in 2023.

The film retained all of the comic's original LGBTQ+ elements, and if the audience and critical response are anything to go by, then the film certainly did live up to the comic. The revival of Nimona is undoubtedly a win considering the journey it went through just to get released.

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Edited by Shreya Das
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