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  • Filmmakers Rich Moore and John Lasseter Rejoin Forces at Skydance Animation

    Published on April 26, 2022

    As Skydance Animation, a subsidiary of Skydance Media continues to expand with new films, new hires, and new toy deals, viewers around the world look forward to seeing what the leading animation company will announce next. And, in Skydance Animation’s latest news, the Oscar-winning writer and director Rich Moore has signed up for an exclusive, multi-year deal, where he will play a key role in the creation, development, and production of the company’s animated features.

    The move will see Rich Moore rejoin Skydance Animation’s head of animation John Lasseter, the former Pixar, and Walt Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer, who worked closely with Rich Moore during their earlier careers.

    Rich Moore’s Career

    Rich Moore is an American animator and business partner in Rough Draft Studios. During his earlier career, he was one of the three directors of Fox’s The Simpsons and won his first Primetime Emmy Award for directing the episode “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment”. He also worked on Futurama and won an Emmy for the episode “Roswell That Ends Well”. His other animation directing credits include The Critic, Drawn Together, Baby Blues, and the segment Spy vs. Spy for MADtv. He was also a supervising director for the Fox television series Sit Down, Shut Up.

    Rich Moore dedicated 10 years of his career to Walt Disney Animation, where he worked on numerous features and served as part of the Disney Story Trust, advising on films like Frozen, Moana, and Tangled. He collaborated with some of Disney’s most acclaimed animators and filmmakers, including John Lasseter, and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2017 for directing Zootopia. He was also nominated for directing Wreck-It Ralph and the sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet, in which he also plays the voice of Sour Bill.

    Rich Moore then went on to work on the feature Vivo with Sony Pictures, which appeared on Netflix.

    John Lasseter’s Career

    John Lasseter developed an interest in animation at an early age, often drawing comics for the church he attended with his mother as a child. His mother, who was an art teacher, encouraged his interest in animation, and, when he saw the animation processes behind Disney classics like Sleeping Beauty, he knew he wanted to animate for Walt Disney Studios. He went on to study animation at the California Institute of Arts and then studied under Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men, where he met Brad Bird, who he would go on to work extensively with.

    After graduating in 1979, John Lasseter secured a role as a Disney animator and worked with Brad Bird on 2D animated films like The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron. He also consulted on U.S. versions of Hiyao Miyazaki films like Porco Rosso and Castle in the Sky. However, when he saw the effects in Tron, he decided to progress on to computer-generated imagery (CGI) and moved from Disney to Lucasfilm. When Steve Jobs acquired the computer graphics division in 1986, Lucasfilm became Pixar, where John Lasseter flourished yet further.

    Originally, Pixar was an animation software producer. But John Lasseter started an independent project in 1988 and created Tin Toy, his first animated short under Pixar, which won him an Academy Award. He then worked on Toy Story, the first full-length feature film made with computer animation, which opened the gates to much success for Pixar. From here, Disney and Pixar collaborated on several animated hits throughout the nineties and noughties. John Lasseter became the chief creative officer at Pixar and various Disney studios. He worked on some of the highest-grossing animated films of all time, including Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Brave, Frozen, Up, Cars, Inside Out, and A Bug’s Life.

    In 2019, John Lasseter became Skydance’s head of animation, where he continues to create compelling, captivating films. He has served as an animator, director, producer, and screenwriter, bringing over 100 of the world’s most-loved stories to life. Today, fans can find a star in his name on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

    Skydance’s Expansion: New Films, Hirings, and Toy Deal

    Blush

    Skydance Animation transitioned into features after successfully partnering with Apple Original Films on Blush, a short film that premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. The Emmy-winning filmmaker Joe Mateo (Big Hero 6, Prep & Landing) wrote and directed this film, which tells the story of a horticulturist turned astronaut who finds himself stranded on an alien planet. Blush landed nominations for Outstanding Animated Short-Format at the NAACP Awards and Best Music — TV/Media at the Annie Awards.

    Luck

    Skydance Animation will launch its first animated feature Luck, directed by Peggy Holmes (The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas) on Aug. 5, 2022. The feature focuses on the unluckiest person in the world, Sam, who finds luck when she meets a cast of magical characters. The feature will appear on Apple TV+, which has over 40 million subscribers. John Lasseter, who is heading this film, previously worked with Peggy Holmes on the Tinker Bell animated series. The film writers include Kiel Murray (Cars) and Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (Kung Fu Panda).

    Spellbound

    Another animated feature, Spellbound, directed by Academy Award-winning Vicky Jensen (Shrek, Shark Tale) with music from Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast), will follow on Nov. 11, 2022. The musical fantasy tells the story of a young girl who must break a spell that has divided her kingdom. The film writers include Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin (Mulan) and Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast).

    Ahead of the film’s launch, Skydance Animation has secured a multi-year agreement with the children’s entertainment company Spin Master, which is now Skydance Animation’s master toy licensee. The Toronto-based company has created several Paw Patrol toys and is now creating fashion dolls, mini-dolls, and vehicles based on the Spellbound musical adventure. Spin Master also holds the right to develop toy lines for various other Skydance films.

    Ray Gunn

    Skydance Animation has also announced that it will produce Brad Bird’s Ray Gunn, a passion project of his that has been long in development. Brad Bird also worked on The Iron Giant and several Pixar classics — he wrote and directed The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2, and Ratatouille. During his time at Pixar, Brad Bird spent much time working with John Lasseter, so, when Skydance Animation acquired the rights to Ray Gunn, it was no surprise that the two visionary storytellers reunited.

    John Lasseter says he is “thrilled to partner with Brad to finally bring his vision of Ray Gunn to the screen. From its immersive world to its rich characters, we can’t wait to explore this story and create a one-of-a-kind animated experience for audiences worldwide.”

    About Skydance Animation

    Skydance Animation creates features that captivate audiences of all ages. Its creative artists tell bold, original stories that take a special place in audiences’ memories. Its one-of-a-kind studios offer breeding grounds for its creative communities to blend art and technology.

    In 2020, Skydance Media acquired the animation outfit Ilion Studios. This acquisition saw the launch of Skydance Animation Madrid, which is a counterpart to Skydance’s animation division in Los Angeles. The combined companies operate a workforce of circa 500, which John Lasseter heads.

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