If you are fan of claymation, then chances are good that you are familiar with the name Will Vinton. An Oregon native, he is best known as one of the leading figures of the Claymation medium and one of the more prominent figures in animation as a whole. After a long period of relative silence (his last major project was in 2006, when he served as an executive producer on Disney’s The Wild), the 67-year-old director has re-emerged in a rather surprising manner.
Deadline reported that Will Vinton will direct the first film in a new slate of CG-animated films that will be developed as part of a new co-financing/production deal between Gnosis Moving Pictures and India-based Toonz Media Group. The deal will see Toonz develop a line of animated features over the course of a few years, while Gnosis and Will Vinton oversee the development of each film.
The films currently in development include an adaptation of Moby Dick (titled Moby & Dick), the action-adventure Nicholas, and The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. The deal also encompasses other flicks yet to be announced.
“At Toonz we believe in creating wonderful stories with a soul for kids all over the world. It was a delight to discover that Gnosis has a similar vision and I hope this partnership brings out wonderful visual treats for kids across the globe for a very long time to come,” Toonz CEO P. Jayakumar said Wednesday.
The films will be produced at Toonz’s production facilities in India and New Zealand.
Asides from his achievements in animation, Will Vinton also played a huge part in the creation of what we know now as the stop-motion studio LAIKA. For those who are interested in how it came about:
LAIKA was born out of what was originally known as Will Vinton Studios. In the late 90’s, his company sought funds for more feature-length projects. At this point, the company was big enough to were it was able to bring in several investors. One of those investors was Nike, Inc. owner Phil Knight. His son, Travis Knight, worked as an intern at the company.
In 2002, the company was struggling financially due to Vinton’s inability to come up with funds to produce more feature films. Phil Knight, who was the majority shareholder at the time, decided to acquire the studio himself in order to keep it in business. After loosing control of the studio, Vinton sought damages for what happened and subsequently sued for ownership of his name. In 2005, LAIKA was founded with Phil Knight as the chairman and Travis Knight as the current president and CEO.
Returning to the topic of this new deal, it is intriguing that it involves yet another studio (or in this case, a pair of studios) entering the field. In addition, this deal also sees Vinton back in the limelight and not only directing films again, but also in the role of creative consultant on other features.
These projects themselves also sound very promising, offering what sounds to be a variety of different genres and concepts to differentiate them from other studios.
In the end, only time will tell if this new union proves successful (especially in today’s environment). As of right now, things do appear promising.
Do you have any thoughts on this news? Are you looking forward to any of these projects?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes