As filmmaker J. Chris Wall sees it, the current media environment has plenty of content for older family members and younger families but very few titles that the whole family can watch together. And if you're wanting something in the fantasy genre – specifically, an episodic television series – the scarcity of content is even more dramatic.
That's one reason Wall is passionate about his groundbreaking project from Angel Studios, the animated series The Wingfeather Saga. Based on the bestselling fantasy book series by singer/author Andrew Peterson, it tells the story of the fictional Igiby family in their battle against evil and the dark overlord Gnag the Nameless.
Wall, the series' showrunner, says it has elements of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Peterson and Wall are executive producers.
Season 1 launched Friday, Dec. 2, at Angel.com and on the Angel app. It is the most successful crowdfunded animated family series in media history.
"We all love The Mandalorian. But The Mandalorian is maybe a little aged up and not for the little ones," Wall told Christian Headlines. "And maybe then there's the one that's really fun for the little guys, but the parents are kind of left in the cold."
The Wingfeather Saga, Wall said, gives families a kid-friendly fantasy "chapter-by-chapter story" that is rare in the modern entertainment realm.
"We're sitting in this wonderful family-viewing space where we hope that families of all ages will gather around chapter by chapter and talk about what's going to happen next and what are we going to see in this next episode? What's going to happen next season as we journey through the story?" Wall said.
It stars Jodi Benson (The Little Mermaid), Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Henry Ian Cusick (Lost, The 100), among others.
Wall is a veteran of family entertainment, having produced Veggie Tales and The Slugs & Bugs Show. The Wingfeather Saga includes solid messages about identity, family and purpose, he added.
In order to attract older viewers, Wall said, the series includes "a certain amount of peril and real stakes," but "we're not going to be gratuitous with it."
The series is planned for seven seasons.
Photo courtesy: ©Angel Studios, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.