News, Studios

Skydance Launches Animation Division with Projects from ‘Lion King’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Writers

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Ever since their inception in 2010, Skydance Media has made it’s name off of producing wildly-popular blockbuster franchises like the Mission: Impossible and Star Trek movies, along with films like Jack Reacher (and its sequel, Never Go Back) and the remake of True Grit.

Now, as it approaches the end of its distribution deal with Paramount Pictures, the studio is looking to expand it’s horizons by diving into the heavily competitive world of animation.

Deadline broke the news last week that Skydance is launching an animation division, formed as part of a multi-year partnership with Madrid-based Illion Animation Studios.

The studio’s Chief Creative Officer, Dana Goldberg, will oversee a slate of animated films and TV shows that will be developed and produced in-house with Illion providing animation services. She and David Ellison, the studio’s founder and CEO, will produce the films and shows with Illion’s Ignacio Pérez Dolset and Jose F San Román.

The first project, set for a 2019 release window, remains untitled but centers around Eileen, a teenager who comes of age while using her magical powers to defend her family from the opposing forces of light and darkness that threaten to tear her kingdom apart. Linda Woolverton, best known for her work on classic Disney animated films like The Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Mulan in addition to live-action remakes like Alice in Wonderland (and its sequel Through the Looking Glass) and Maleficent, is writing the screenplay and will serve as a producer for this project.

The second project on the slate has a working title of Luck. The film’s story pulls back the curtain on organizations that control the good and bad luck that secretly affect our lives. Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, the screenwriting duo behind the Kung Fu Panda franchise and DreamWorks Animation’s recent film Trolls, are penning the script for Luck and they too will serve as producers.

In a statement, Goldberg expressed her excitement for the new venture: “The possibilities to create imaginative new worlds are limitless and we are thrilled to expand the Skydance family to include Ilion and some of the most talented artists working in animated film today.

It’s not easy to break into the animation industry nowadays, or at least not without a strong mission statement that sets you apart from the other studios. From my observation, the thing that could set Skydance Animation apart from other studios is its creator-driven approach to developing animated features. Notice that the screenwriters of both movies will be credited as producers. By doing this, Skydance sets the tone for a production process where writers are more involved at the studio level then they usually are in mainstream animation.

Whether this approach will make for great animated movies is yet to be seen, but it’s refreshing to see a new animation studio that zeroes in on an undervalued – and very important – faucet of the animation process.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to the first two films to come from Skydance Animation? What do you make of the studio’s seemingly writer-driven approach to film development?

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Brandon Smith

Brandon is your average nerd with a love for nerdy things (games, comics, anime/manga, etc.). He also loves reading and writing and plans to be an author someday. For now, he writes with passion and curiosity about the world of animation. He lives with his family in North Carolina and is currently attending college.
  • Manuel Orozco

    If I see a trailer for either movie, I’ll think about seeing them. The writers they have chosen have splendid resumes!

  • Fadi Antwan

    I just hope it’s not another BlueSky/Illumination/Sony/Dreamworks cringe comedy and toilet humor factory.