Netflix has released the first trailer and announced the voice cast for Glen Keane's Over the Moon. The animated musical centers on Fei Fei (newcomer Cathy Ang), a young girl from China who builds her own rocket ship to prove the existence of a legendary moon goddess known as Chang’e. She eventually blasts off with her pet rabbit and rambunctious brother-to-be, Chin (Robert G. Chiu).
Fei Fei's parents are voiced by John Cho and Ruthie Ann Miles, with the supporting characters played by Sandrah Oh, Ken Jeong, Robert G. Chiu, Phillipa Soo, Margaret Cho, Kimiko Glenn, Artt Butler, Irene Tsu, Clem Cheung, and Conrad Ricamora.
"Every child grows up in China knowing the tale of Chang’e and believing that she lives on the moon," producer Peilin Chou said in a statement. "There is even a national holiday centered around it — the Mid-Autumn Festival. [EP Janet Yang] came up with the idea to tell a modern day version of this legend through the eyes of a little girl named Fei Fei. I loved the idea of bringing the tale of Chang’e to a global audience in a contemporary, fresh and unique way. Our film features a Chang’e that you have never seen before."
"I feel like this movie was made for me. I always wanted to take part in bringing Asian stories to the screen, and I felt so honored to be able to tell this story about a young girl living in modern-day China. There’s so much about this character that resonates with me," added producer Gennie Rim.
Check out the trailer:
The film, which can trace its roots back to 2015, seems to have a Coco-ish vibe, embracing a rich culture and mythology as Fei Fei enters Lunaria, a fantastical world based firmly in celebrated Asian folklore. Our heroine's never-say-quit determination to reach outer space may have something to do with the fact that her father is about to remarry after the death of her mother. It's all but assured that this cosmic adventure will help Fei Fei come to terms with feelings of loss and grief.
"Walt Disney was always talking about the ‘plausible impossible.’ And I thought, 'A 13-year-old girl building a rocket to the moon? I don’t know,'" Keane admitted. "But as I was reading it, I got to the page where Fei Fei’s rocket launches and then it runs out of power and starts falling back, like they're going to die. And I thought, 'Yes! Now I believe it. But you've got to save them somehow!' I was suddenly invested. It was when that beam of light hit them and the moon lions leapt onto the page that I knew I had to direct this movie."
This is the director's feature debut after his decades-long tenure as a Disney animator. His past credits include Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, Treasure Planet, and Tangled.
During pre-production on Over the Moon, he toured ancient Chinese water towns, Wuzhen and Nanxun, alongside production designer Céline Desrumaux (The Little Prince). The latter took plenty of photos, so the animators would have plenty of reference material when bulding Fei Fei's hometown.
"If the audience is going to believe in the story that you’re telling — you have to believe it," Kean explained. "In order to create a movie that feels like the Wizard of Oz, where you start someplace that’s real, then travel to some fantastic world, you have to start with what’s real."
For the look of Lunaria, Keane suggested that Desrumaux check out the iconic album cover for Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Going off that, "she set out to create Lunaria as a place where everything is a light source, illuminating from within and stemming from Chang’e — as opposed to Earth, which is all reflected light," says the release.
Audrey Wells (The Hate U Give screenwriter sadly passed away from cancer in 2018) penned the script and the songs were written by Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield, and Helen Park. They reportedly took inspiration from KPop, Queen, Tina Turner, Eminem, Lady Gaga, John Williams, Beyoncé, and Katy Perry. Steven Price (Gravity) composed the original score.
"There has never been a time when this film has been more relevant, or perhaps when the world needed it more," Chou continued. "The themes of Over the Moon, which Audrey portrayed with passion and integrity, are all about opening your heart and learning to accept new things. It tells us that in challenging or difficult times, the answer to almost anything is always love."
Over the Moon lands on Netflix this fall (a specific date has yet to be confirmed).