Geoff Zanelli scores Netflix's animated musical comedy <I>Leo</I>
November 30, 2023

Geoff Zanelli scores Netflix's animated musical comedy Leo

LOS ANGELES – Emmy Award-winning composer Geoff Zanelli recently created the score for Leo, Netflix’s new animated musical comedy. Produced by Netflix Animation and Happy Madison, the movie was co-directed by Robert Smigel ( Saturday Night Live), who also wrote the movie; Robert Marianetti ( Hotel Transylvania 2) and David Wachtenheim ( Saturday Night Live).

For Zanelli (pictured), whose credits include Christopher Robin, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the new feature is a return to animation. He began his career contributing music to beloved animated films that include Shark Tale, Antz and Chicken Run.

"I never tire of coming-of-age stories, not since I saw Stand By Me as a child,” says Zanelli. “Leo is, at its heart, a modern day coming of age story. It's also hilariously funny in a way that only Adam Sandler and Rob Smigel can be. They, along with co-directors Rob Marianetti and David Wachtenheim, are a dream to work with. The eye is always on the prize: a funny, heartwarming, keenly observant animated film with amazing performances from great comics and young kids. Animation always opens the door to creative composition. My score for Leo takes you from suburban classrooms to 1960s espionage, all the way to the swamps of the Everglades."

The animated musical comedy is set during the last year of elementary school, as seen through the eyes of a class pet, a jaded 74-year-old lizard named Leo (voiced by Sandler), who’s been stuck in the same Florida classroom for decades with his terrarium-mate turtle (Bill Burr). When he learns he only has one year left to live, he plans to escape to experience life on the outside but instead gets caught up in the problems of his anxious students. 

Zanelli won an Emmy for “Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score)” for his work on the Steven Spielberg/DreamWorks’ miniseries Into the West. He was additionally nominated for his next Spielberg project, HBO’s The Pacific.