Locksmith Animation, the UK production banner founded in 2014 by Julie Lockhart and Sarah Smith with financial backing from Elisabeth Murdoch, has a closed a co-development and co-production deal with Paramount Pictures.

Under the pact, the companies will move forward on three projects, which Locksmith has been developing since it launched in 2014. The plan would be for the first project to head into production within the next 12 months and to release the first theatrical movie in 2020. The deal also contemplates developing other projects together over time to create a pipeline of releases. Locksmith is a UK-based dedicated high-end CG feature animation studio.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Elisabeth Murdoch and Locksmith Animation to develop an exciting series of new films,” said Paramount Pictures chairman and chief exec Brad Grey. “The unparalleled experience and talents of Elisabeth, Sarah and Julie will enrich our animation studio and further our commitment to creating world-class entertainment for audiences of all ages around the world.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build London as a world-class animation hub,” added Lockhart. “Paramount has a wealth of experience and expertise in distributing animated features and we are thrilled to partner in this venture.”

The deal, months in the making, is announced days after Jeffrey Katzenberg agreed with Comcast to sell DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion.