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Netflix is sprinkling The Grove in L.A. with some charitable cheer in the spirit of Klaus, its first animated feature film, and World Kindness Day. Ahead of the holiday flick’s Nov. 15 arrival on the streaming giant, a larger-than-life gift box is popping up at the popular shopping haunt Wednesday, Nov. 13.
It’s part of a festive stunt that Netflix is rolling out simultaneously in Times Square’s Old Navy in New York and Pioneer Court in Chicago. As part of its “Letters to Klaus” initiative, the online media company is teaming with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in answering the holiday wish lists of children in the organization’s mentoring program. Participating youth and their volunteer mentors will help unwrap the oversized present, which will be filled with personalized gifts for kids.
Shoppers at The Grove won’t be left out of the philanthropic festivities: Gift wrapping and letter-writing stations will be set up at the center for visitors from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The 2D film was directed by Spanish animator and Despicable Me co-creator Sergio Pablos. It follows the unlikely friendship of pampered postman Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) and Klaus (Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons), a reclusive carpenter and toymaker. The duo’s mission to bring happiness to the pessimistic Arctic town of Smeerensburg results in comedic magical adventures. Rounding out the cast is Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, Will Sasso and Norm Macdonald.
“I didn’t realize that this was Netflix’s first animated film, so I’m honored to be a part of that,” Schwartzman tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Animated movies [about] the postal service — they’re far and few between, so I was excited. But really, the truth is that [Jones, who voices the character Alva] gave it such a vote of confidence,” he says.
Ultimately, it was Pablos’ vision that convinced him to sign on. “I remember the one moment where I was like, ‘Yes, we must work together.’ I had a question [for Pablos] in our first meeting … it was a pretzel of a question. Then he stopped and said, ‘Here, it’s much easier if I do it like this,’ and then he took out a sketch pad and just drew the scene in question on a piece of paper. He answered it with a drawing. There were no words. … And I like [the story’s] smashing of the magical holiday feeling with the bitter cold,” joked Schwartzman.
The actor is currently on set in Chicago and won’t see The Grove festivities in action: “I like any reminder or reason for people to stop, take a moment and be gracious and think about other people, and [BBBS] is a tremendous organization. And the larger-than-life presents … I’m curious to know what the gifts are!”
Netflix’s acts of kindness are likely to pull on the holiday heartstrings of Academy members, as it’s also eyeing an Oscars nomination for Klaus, which was released theatrically Nov. 8.
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