Netflix has signed a multi-year overall deal with Disney’s High School Musical director Kenny Ortega and is fast-tracking his first two projects. Ortega is currently directing and producing a Christmas film entitled Auntie Claus (working title) and and original series Julie and the Phantoms.
Truma Alfaro (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Descendants trilogy) will serve as Ortega’s development executive on both family focused projects.
Auntie Claus is a musical based on the popular book series of the same name by Elisa Primavera. It involves a young girl determined to figure out why her Christmas-loving Aunt disappears every year during the holiday. It is being adapted by Tiffany Paulsen (Nancy Drew).
Julie and the Phantoms, meanwhile, is a musical-comedy series based on a Brazilian TV show. The titular character finds her passion for music with the help of a band of three teen boys who have been dead for 25 years. Dan Cross and David Hoge (The Thundermans) are serving as showrunners and exec producers. Other EPs include George Salinas and Jaime Aymerich of Crossover Entertainment, as well as Hugo Janeba and Joao Tikhmiroff of Mixer Entertainment.
Beyond the High School Musical franchise, Ortega also directed and choreographed Disney’s Descendants trilogy and Hocus Pocus. He also choreographed classic films Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink.
This is the latest in a raft of overall deals Netflix has been signing with former Disney creators, including locking in Doc McStuffins creator Chris Nee to write and produce new animated and live-action series; and the Coco and Toy Story 3 producer Darla Anderson to develop and produce new animated and live-action feature films and series.