One of Netflix's best movies was initially axed by Disney – and now it's a fan favorite after a limited free release on YouTube

(Image credit: Netflix)

Nimona, an Oscar nominee and one of the best animated movies on Netflix, may have just taken YouTube by storm after a surprise limited free release on the site, but the film was almost scrapped completely back in 2021.

The movie, which is up for Best Animated Feature at this year's Academy Awards, was released on YouTube to watch for free on February 19 for a limited period of one week. In that time, it amassed 3 million views, according to a Tweet from co-director Troy Quane.

However, Nimona almost didn't get a release at all. 20th Century Fox Animation acquired the rights to Stevenson's graphic novel back in 2015, and the film was set to be produced by Fox subsidiary Blue Sky Studios and released in 2020. However, Disney's 2019 Fox acquisition threw a spanner in the works. The merger pushed back Nimona's release date to 2021, then 2022, until Disney announced it was shuttering Blue Sky Studios in February 2021 and Nimona was pulled from Disney's release schedule. 

Cut to April 2022, however, and it was announced that Annapurna Pictures had picked up the movie and Netflix would release it in 2023. Bruno and Quane, who'd previously worked on the film's story, were brought in as directors. After premiering at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in June 2023, Nimona finally arrived on Netflix later the same month.

Set in a futuristic medieval world, the movie follows Ballister Boldheart (voiced by Riz Ahmed) a disgraced knight who's framed for a crime he didn't commit. Unfortunately for Ballister, the only one who can help prove his innocence is Nimona (Chloë Grace Moretz), a mischievous, shapeshifting being who he's been trained to destroy. It was a hit with critics, with a score of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and has been praised for its LGBT representation.

Based on the graphic novel of the same name by ND Stevenson, Nick Bruno and Quane co-direct, and the cast also includes Six Feet Under's Frances Conroy, Pose's Indya Moore, and RuPaul.

Although it's now been removed from YouTube, Nimona is still streaming on Netflix. For more, check out our picks of the other best Netflix movies to fill out your watch list. 

Entertainment Writer

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.