UK production house, led by Sarah Smith and Julie Lockhart, will co-develop and distribute family animated features in theatres worldwide.
Warner Bros. Pictures has just signed a multi-film deal with Locksmith Animation, the UK CG feature studio, to co-develop and distribute its slate of pictures, according to an announcement made today by Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, Courtenay Valenti, President, Production and Development, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Sarah Smith and Julie Lockhart, Co-CEOs of Locksmith.
The deal covers the development and production of family animated features that Warner Bros. Pictures will distribute in theatres worldwide. Locksmith will collaborate closely with Allison Abbate, Executive Vice President, Warner Animation Group, to add a “fresh voice” to complement the Studio’s current animation activities.
“In recent years, animation has become a tremendously important part of our slate, and this deal with Locksmith dovetails perfectly with our forward-going plans,” said Emmerich and Valenti. “We love Sarah and Julie’s sensibilities and work, and look forward to working with them to create titles that will enchant today’s audiences and become classics for future generations of animation lovers.”
“We’re absolutely delighted to become part of the Warner Bros. family with this partnership,” said Smith and Lockhart in a joint statement. “The studio has not only a revered legacy in animation, but an outstanding record in bringing contemporary family classics to global audiences. We look forward to working with its visionary leadership team to bring our unique voice and brand to worldwide audiences.”
Locksmith’s first feature, Ron’s Gone Wrong, currently being produced in London, will be released by Walt Disney Studios. Locksmith Animation was founded in 2014 by former Aardman executives, BAFTA Award-winning director, writer and producer Sarah Smith (Arthur Christmas) and acclaimed producer Julie Lockhart (Academy Award-nominated Shaun the Sheep Movie, Pirates! Band of Misfits) together with media executive Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of media baron Rupert Murdoch. Partner Double Negative provides all digital production in London.
Previously, the studio had entered into production deals with Paramount, in 2016, and Fox in 2017; their first film, Ron’s Gone Wrong, was originally announced for release in 2020 as part of the Fox deal. In a January 2019 announcement of Dónall Crehan’s appointment as Chief Business Officer, Locksmith pegged the film’s release date as November 6, 2020.
Ron’s Gone Wrong tells the story of the wonderful walking, talking, digitally connected bot that sweeps the world becoming every kid’s new Best Friend. But when an eleven-year-old boy ends up with one that doesn’t work, his attempts to teach it become a hilarious, heart-warming exploration of what real friendship means in a world of algorithms and social media.
Warner Animation Group/Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming animated titles include SCOOB in May 2020, Tom & Jerry in April 2021 and Space Jam 2 in July 2021.
Source: Locksmith Animation
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.