Skydance Media has just got a new player for their brewing animation division. Deadline reports that the studio (best known for producing most of the Mission: Impossible sequels) announced the acquisition of Spanish animation unit Ilion Animation Studios, set to rebrand them as Skydance Animation Madrid.
With the buyout of Ilion (cost currently undisclosed), Skydance Animation will now have 500 employees in both America and Spain divisions, combining “the creative capital of Skydance with Ilion’s best-in-class talent”. The animation division is overseen by president Holly Edwards and animation head John Lasseter.
This international America-Spain collaboration is comparable to Illumination’s America-France production model, where the studio has it’s animation provided by their Paris-based subsidiary Illumination Mac Guff.
Based in Madrid, Spain, Ilion was founded in 2002 by brothers Javier and Ignacio Pérez Dolset. The studio made their Hollywood debut in 2009 with the sci-fi comedy Planet 51 and followed up in 2014 with the Goya Award-winning Mortadelo and Filemon: Mission Implausible (Spanish: Mortadelo y Filemón contra Jimmy el Cachondo). The studio’s most-recent movie was 2019’s Wonder Park, which they collaborated with Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Movies.
Skydance CEO David Ellison and Ilion president Ignacio Pérez Dolset gave the following statements on this new joint entity:
“The world is going through an unprecedented and uncertain time. Today’s acquisition marks the culmination of many months of work to build one studio across two continents, with the goal of creating the highest-quality animation, led by best-in-class talent from around the world. The addition of Skydance Animation Madrid to our portfolio of businesses underlines my passion and commitment to bringing iconic animated stories and characters to life from some of the most talented artists and voices in the industry.”David Ellison, CEO, Skydance Media
“This is a phenomenal growth opportunity for our team in Spain and we’re proud to be an integral part of Skydance’s exciting future.”Waid Ignacio Pérez Dolset, president and CCO, Ilion Animation Studios
Although ambitious with their animated lineup, the one pitfall for Skydance Animation has been the involvement of former Pixar and Disney Animation CCO John Lasseter. The animation master was hit with misconduct allegations in November 2017, leading to in his departure from Disney by December 31, 2018.
Nine days after finishing with Disney, Lasseter was hired by Ellison to be the new head of Skydance Animation. The hiring has proven to be controversial in the animation industry, resulting in Paramount Animation to cut creative ties with the division, and actress Emma Thompson dropping out from voicing a character in Luck.
Speaking of Luck, that will be Skydance Animation’s debut feature, with animation service provided Ilion. The picture is currently scheduled for a February 12, 2021 release via Paramount Pictures. Two other original features, currently known as Spellbound and Pookoo, are also in the Skydance Animation pipeline.
Here are more details on those three movies (via Deadline):
- Directed by Peggy Holmes (The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning).
- Written by Kiel Murray (Cars, Cars 3) and Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger (the Kung Fu Panda series).
- When the unluckiest girl alive stumbles upon the never-before-seen world of good and bad luck, she must join together with magical creatures to uncover a force more powerful than even luck itself.
Spellbound (working title)
- Directed by Vicky Jenson (Shrek, Shark Tale).
- Written by Lauren Hynek & Elizabeth Martin (Mulan ) and Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King).
- A musical fantasy set in a world of magic where a young girl sets out to break the spell that has split her kingdom in two.
Pookoo (working title/currently in development)
- Written and directed by Nathan Greno (Tangled).
- Produced by Jennifer Magee-Cook (The Princess and the Frog).