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Cinesite Acquires Canadian Studio Squeeze

On the heels of its July deal for Studio L’Atelier, the animation and VFX company expands its production capabilities even further with the acquisition of the Quebec City and Montreal-based animation and mocap studio.

Fresh on the heels of its Studio L’Atelier acquisition less than 2 weeks ago, animation and VFX studio Cinesite, which recently marked its 30th anniversary, has acquired a majority stake in animation and mocap studio Squeeze, located in Quebec City and Montreal. 

Co-founded in 2011 by Denis Doré and Patrick Beaulieu, with François Houde (current CFO and partner) joining in 2014, Squeeze currently has a creative team of more than 200 artists and technical experts, as well as a mocap studio in Montreal. Company clients include Disney, Marvel, Universal, Illumination, Supercell, Warner Bros. and Ubisoft; it is also known for creating Cracké, an 3D animated slapstick comedy series broadcasted in over 210 territories and counting over 600 million views worldwide on digital platforms. 

The move further increases Cinesite’s animation content and service offerings for international markets while bringing mocap and Unreal capabilities into the group to service video game and film productions. Last year, Squeeze received an Epic MegaGrant, which allowed the company’s Unreal Engine team to focus on the development and combination of tools and systems that allows for the creation of uniquely styled and visually rich animated footage.

Squeeze is the fifth studio to join the independently owned Cinesite group, following Image Engine in 2015, Nitrogen Studios (renamed Cinesite Vancouver) in 2017, German VFX studio Trixter in 2018, and most recently L’Atelier Animation last month.  

“Squeeze is a fantastic addition,” Cinesite Group CEO Antony Hunt said in a statement, “not only for its successful original IP Cracké and for its world-class animation portfolio, but also for its mocap capabilities and scale, and the opportunity to further enhance a dynamic Montreal based hub for the Cinesite group as a rapidly growing family entertainment powerhouse.”  

Doré, Squeeze CEO, added, “I’m very pleased to see Squeeze join a leading group like Cinesite, we share a common vision of creation and commercialisation of original animation content and, most importantly, fundamental values such as excellence, humility and integrity. Besides helping us strengthen our leadership position with our entertainment elite partners, this alliance will benefit our talented artists so they can deliver bigger than life character performances.” 

Cinesite states that Squeeze will retain its brand and creative center, and its staff will continue to work under the leadership of Doré and Houde. The studio is currently in production on various gaming and theme park projects as well as an unannounced animated feature film.

Doré will work directly with Cinesite Animation COO Brad Wald to integrate the company and expand their Montreal footprint to meet the growing demand for animated content. With this latest deal, the Cinesite group boasts more than 780 employees across Canada now working under the Cinesite, L’Atelier Animation and Squeeze brands.

Prior to this latest acquisition, Cinesite’s London, Montreal, and Vancouver studios have completed 10 animated feature films to date, including The Addams Family 1&2 (MGM), Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (Paramount Animation), and Riverdance: The Animated Adventure. The studio is currently in production on Hitpig and Animal Farm (Aniventure), Iwaju (Disney +), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ CG reimagining for Nickelodeon and Point Grey Pictures.

Source: Cinesite

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.