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Back To The Outback - What We Know So Far

Animated films have long focused their stories on adorable animals, and it's not hard to see why. Anthropomorphizing a creature allows children and adults to empathize with them while telling broadly accessible stories that can cross cultural boundaries. It has worked for numerous features in the past. Netflix's new animated movie, the family-friendly Australian-American film "Back to the Outback," also fits perfectly into this category.

With "Back to the Outback" coming soon to the streaming platform and not a trailer in sight, there are still questions that curious fans need to have answered before its debut. Chief among these questions are ones about the animated pic's release date, cast, and plot. With that in mind, let's dive in and take a look at when "Back to the Outback" will premiere on Netflix, which talented actors will lend their voices to the movie, and what the actual story is all about.

What is the release date of Back to the Outback?

The Netflix page for "Back to the Outback" currently lists a December 2021 arrival, which marks a slight shift from the initial release date. When the film was announced in November 2020, Deadline reported a fall 2021 release date for the family-friendly animated movie. At the time, this 2020 date gave audiences slightly over one year of turnaround between announcement and premiere. As winter draws near and other films on the Netflix slate start to debut, the specific date will likely be announced in the official "Back to the Outback" trailer.

A December release window for a film like "Back to the Outback" makes sense from a business perspective. Though family films arguably can work at any time of the year, debuting them in the summer and during the holiday season has become a tried-and-true method by studios. With "Back to the Outback" hitting Netflix near Christmas, the streaming giant is likely counting on families getting together to watch it — similar to Disney and Pixar putting "Soul" on Disney+ for the 2020 holiday season.

Who is in the cast of Back to the Outback?

According to the "Back to the Outback" IMDb page, the animated movie has assembled a strong cast of voice actors. The American-Australian production has enlisted the talents of performers recognizable to a global audience. The ensemble features talented actors and comedians such as Isla Fisher ("Wedding Crashers"), Guy Pearce ("Memento"), Eric Bana (2003's "Hulk"), Angus Imrie ("Star Trek: Prodigy"), Tim Minchin ("Californication"), and Miranda Tapsell ("The Sapphires"). 

The voice cast also includes "Thor: Ragnarok" actress Rachel House, who hails from New Zealand (like her frequent collaborator Taika Waititi) but has developed a prominent career in Australian film and theater productions. Other notable additions to the cast line-up include Wayne Knight ("Jurassic Park"), Jacki Weaver ("Bird Box"), and Australian country music star Keith Urban. His role is especially interesting due to the fact that it is his first credited acting role in a film (via IMDb). With all of the other talent in the movie's ranks, we will see if Urban's "Back to the Outback" performance leads to more acting work in the future.

What is the plot of Back to the Outback?

"Back to the Outback" tells a story that will appeal to children and adults alike. Per a Netflix press release (and via Deadline), the film focuses on a diverse ensemble of creatures, including a snake (Isla Fisher), a lizard (Miranda Tapsell), a spider (Guy Pearce), and a scorpion (Angus Imrie). The quartet is fed up with their lives in captivity, where they merely exist in the reptile house at an Australian zoo. Determined to make their way to freedom, the animals team up to escape and make their way to their natural habitat in Australia's Outback, hence the movie's title. Along the way, they find themselves stuck with their nemesis, an adorable koala (Tim Minchin), and pursued by a zookeeper (Eric Bana) who is determined to get them back into their cages.

At first glance, it may feel like there are plot similarities between "Back to the Outback" and the first installment of the "Madagascar" franchise, which debuted in 2005. However, there are a few different compelling story angles at play in "Back to the Outback." In a statement from Netflix's announcement, co-director Clare Knight shares, "I have always been touched by stories of hidden beauty. Maddie is both uniquely [a] beauty and beast, and to get to present that message in comedy is the icing on the cake." Additionally, co-writer and co-director Harry Cripps describes the film as a "love letter to Australia's incredibly diverse and unique wildlife."