EXCLUSIVE: In a move that puts Toby Emmerich’s Warner Bros film division in position to inject more animated/family fare into its film slates, the studio has joined forces with Imagine chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard and Animal Logic Group CEO Zareh Nalbandian to form a five-year partnership to co-produce and co-finance a slate of animated and hybrid family films.
The companies will share a development fund, with financing, production responsibilities and company credit being determined on a picture-by-picture basis. All films produced under this partnership will be distributed globally by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Grazer and Howard said they were “excited about our new partnership with Warner Bros and continuing our collaboration with Animal Logic to bring family friendly films to a world audience. Warner Bros’ success and experience alongside Animal Logic’s creative and technological innovation provides us limitless opportunity to create visually stunning and emotionally resonating films in this highly coveted space.”
The move comes as Howard unveils Solo: A Star Wars Story, and after the duo in Cannes launched Imagine Impact, a groundbreaking initiative modeled after Y Combinator that will provide a foot in the door to new creative voices in TV, film, VR and other platforms. Imagine’s family film efforts include How The Grinch Stole Christmas and the Emmy-winning Curious George series.
Animal Logic, which is producing more of its own fare after providing visual effects for many event films, has a strong history with Warner Bros that includes the Best Animated Feature Oscar winner Happy Feet, as well as the blockbusters The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, with The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part in production. Animal Logic Entertainment also produced the Sony Pictures release Peter Rabbit.
“This new partnership brings together an innovative slate of family films being developed by Animal Logic and the incredibly talented team at Imagine, with 20 years of highly successful collaboration between Animal Logic and Warner Bros,” said Nalbandian. “I know that the calibre of talent and experience we will tap between Imagine, Animal Logic and Warner Bros. will ensure that we continue to bring fun, emotional and inventive animated and hybrid movies to family audiences around the world.”
For Emmerich’s part, the emphasis is to create more opportunities to launch family film properties, among the most reliable genres in the film industry. The studio’s next is the July 27 opener Teen Titans Go! To The Movies and the September 28 release Smallfoot.
“Together, Imagine and Animal Logic bring extraordinary creativity and ingenuity to the table,” said Emmerich. “We have enjoyed our collaborations with both companies and look forward to the exciting projects that will emerge from this new partnership.”