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WildBrain to Acquire House of Cool

In a deal set to close later this year, co-founders Wes Lui and Ricardo Curtis are named Co-General Managers of the Toronto-based pre-production studio, which will maintain its distinct identity under new parent company banner.

WildBrain Ltd. has agreed to acquire Toronto-based animation pre-production studio House of Cool, doubling its pre-production capacity for animated series, specials, and features while greatly expanding the Vancouver-based company’s pre-production team of approximately 80 artists.   

Under the agreement, WildBrain will acquire full ownership of House of Cool. The latter will maintain a distinct identity under the WildBrain banner while collaborating closely with the animation studio’s team in Vancouver. House of Cool will maintain operations at its Toronto facility with its executives and co-founders, Wes Lui and Ricardo Curtis, joining the WildBrain senior management team in the newly created roles of Co-General Managers of House of Cool. The two will report to WildBrain president Josh Scherba.

Founded in 2004, House of Cool has worked on over 20 theatrical films, which have grossed over US $6.23 billion at the box office, providing pre-production services including storyboarding; conceptual and visual development; character, environment, and prop design; and the creation of animatic test videos. Past feature projects include Despicable Me for Illumination; The Angry Birds franchise for Rovio and Sony Pictures Animation; and The Peanuts MovieFerdinand, and the Ice Age and Rio franchises for 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios. Notable series include What if…? for Marvel Studios; Gravity Falls for Disney; Maya and the ThreeThe Magician’s ElephantTrollhunters, and Dragons: Race to the Edge for Dreamworks and Netflix; and Pretzel and the Puppies for HarperCollins Productions and Apple TV+.

The transaction will close in the fiscal 2023 fourth quarter, subject to conditions to closing. Closing consideration for the acquisition will consist of $15.5 million, with $10.25 million through the issuance of 4,479,406 WildBrain shares and $5.25 million in cash.

Scherba stated, “This acquisition is an investment in creative excellence. House of Cool is recognized as one of the very best pre-production companies in the global animation industry. We’re delighted to welcome Wes, Ricardo, and their team on board at WildBrain, a combination of talent that will immediately broaden and deepen our collective creative strengths. Their expertise is highly complementary to our existing business, expanding and enhancing our pre-production capabilities, not only for WildBrain’s proprietary content but also for third-party projects. The acquisition also establishes a new entry point for IP owners to engage with WildBrain’s 360-degree offering across production, distribution, and consumer products licensing.”

“House of Cool’s mission is simple: bring audiences together through the artful telling of unique stories,” said Lui. “WildBrain shares our enthusiasm for storytelling, and from the moment they first approached us, we were ecstatic about combining forces and leveraging their 360-degree approach and our expertise in story and preproduction to develop, produce and distribute premium content. We will also further be able to offer more top-level creative services for all our clients.”

Curtis added, “As a fiercely independent operator for the last two decades, it would require something special for House of Cool to join another studio. WildBrain is that special. WildBrain has industry-leading expertise in production, distribution, and licensing, and its reach on multiple platforms greatly expands our ability and scope to connect with audiences. Mixed with their deep catalogue of properties—many I grew up with—hitching House of Cool’s wagon to WildBrain allows us to collaborate in previously unavailable ways on the premium content we are known for.”

Source: WildBrain

Whitney Whitener's picture

Whitney is a freelance writer focusing on VFX-driven fantasy film & TV as well as preschool animation.