It’s the start of something new for producer, director, and choreographer Kenny Ortega who inked a multi-year overall deal with Netflix.
Ortega is known for the High School Musical franchise, which earned him a Primetime Emmy and Directors Guild of America Award. He has also directed and choreographed international hits including Disney’s Descendants trilogy, Newsies, and Hocus Pocus, and choreographed classic films including Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Pretty in Pink, among others.
Truman Alfaro will serve as Ortega’s development executive.
To begin, Ortega will direct and produce Auntie Claus (working title), a film, and the original series Julie and the Phantoms, which he will also executive produce. Auntie Claus is a musical based on the book series of the same name by Elise Primavera. The story follows a young girl determined to get to the bottom of why her eccentric, Christmas-loving Aunt disappears every Christmas. It will be adapted by Tiffany Paulsen (Holidate, Nancy Drew).
Julie and the Phantoms is a musical comedy series in development based on an International Emmy Award-nominated Brazillian television series. Julie is a teenaged 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 executive producers on the series, with George Salinas and Jaime Aymerich of Crossover Entertainment, as well as Hugo Janeba and Joao Tikhmiroff of Mixer Entertainment. Jason La Padura and Natalie Hart (High School Musical and Descendants trilogies) are now casting the titular roles.
“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 Ted Sarandon, CCO, Netflix.