DNEG Animation was excited to give a ‘proper hello’ to the animation world at this week’s 2022 Annecy Festival.
Previously considered a start-up housed within Oscar-winning VFX studio DNEG, the studio has spent the last few years establishing itself as an animation powerhouse. In 2021, their first feature, Ron’s Gone Wrong (with Locksmith Animation/Disney), was released, and their first animated short film, Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat, helmed by Academy Award winner William Joyce kicked off its festival run.
At DNEG Animation’s Studio Focus Session in Annecy, the core team got into the studio’s origin story and gave a much-anticipated sneak peek at the wide-ranging genres of films and series that make up their current slate. Speakers included the studio’s newly promoted co-President Erika Burton; Senior Vice President of Creative David Prescott; Vice President of Animation Technology Markus Kurtz; Vice President of Training, Outreach & Artistic Development Kara Oropallo; Head of Production Crosby Clyse and Global Head of Character Animation Ted Ty.
The team proudly presented the following slate of current projects which are in various stages of production: Nimona, Garfield, That Christmasand the original animated series from Kid Cudi and Kenya Barris, Entergalactic for Netflix. Production on all of these projects is taking place simultaneously at DNEG Animation’s studios in London, Montreal, Mumbai, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Toronto.
DNEG Animation Slate:
Nimona (Netflix/Annapurna Pictures) — Nimona is a feature animated adaptation of ND Stevenson’s New York Times bestselling graphic novel. The film tells the story of a Knight who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and the only person who can help him prove his innocence is Nimona, a shape-shifting teen who might also be a monster he’s sworn to kill. Set in a techno-medieval world unlike anything animation has tackled before, this is a story about the labels we assign to people and the shapeshifter who refuses to be defined by anyone. Coming to Netflix in 2023.
Netflix is partnering with Annapurna Pictures on the movie from directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane (Spies in Disguise), featuring the voices of Chloë Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed and Eugene Lee Yang. Roy Lee, Karen Ryan and Julie Zackary are producing and Robert L. Baird, Megan Ellison and Andrew Millstein are executive producers. DNEG Animation leads include VFX Supervisor Yancy Lindquist, Animation Director Ted Ty, Executive Producer Corey Turner and CG Animation Producer Anthony Kemp.
Garfield (Alcon Entertainment/Sony) — DNEG Animation is the exclusive animation studio on the latest animated adaptation of the beloved comic-strip character Garfield, everyone’s favorite lasagna-eating feline, producing the animated feature alongside Alcon Entertainment. With David Reynolds (Finding Nemo) writing and Mark Dindal (Chicken Little, The Emperor’s New Groove) directing, Garfield himself is voiced by none other than Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) and Garfield’s father, Vic (a brand-new character), is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Spider-Man: Far From Home).
Executive producer is Craig Sost, producers include John Cohen, Tom Jacomb, Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove, Namit Malhotra and Steven P. Wegner. DNEG Animation leads include VFX Supervisor Freddy Chaleur, Animation Director Jason Boose and CG Animation Producer Shelley Smith.
That Christmas (Netflix/Locksmith Animation) — This is the second collaboration between Locksmith Animation and DNEG Animation, and follows the studio’s successful partnership on Locksmith’s debut film, Ron’s Gone Wrong. That Christmas is based on the successful children’s book series by filmmaker Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Yesterday) and follows a series of entwined tales about love and loneliness, family and friends, and Santa Claus making a big mistake, not to mention an enormous number of turkeys!
The film is written by Curtis and Peter Souter, and marks the feature film directorial debut of renowned character animation and story artist veteran Simon Otto (How to Train Your Dragon trilogy). Produced by Nicole P. Hearon (Moana, Frozen II) and Adam Tandy (The Thick of It, The Detectorists). Locksmith’s CTO and SVP of Digital Production Doug Ikeler (Arthur Christmas, Open Season) serves as VFX supervisor, Ashley Boddy (Ron’s Gone Wrong) is head of story, and Sim Evan-Jones (Shrek, Shaun the Sheep Movie) is editor. Executive producers include Julie Lockhart, Curtis, Souter, Bonnie Arnold, Elisabeth Murdoch, Sarah Smith, Colin Hopkins and the books’ illustrator Rebecca Cobb. DNEG Animation leads include DFX Supervisors Matt Waters and Nicholas New, Animation Director Kapil Sharma and CG Animation Producer Shane Mulholland. Coming to Netflix.
Entergalactic (Netflix) — Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi and Kenya Barris join forces to present Entergalactic, an original, animated story about a young artist named Jabari (voiced by Mescudi) as he attempts to balance love and success. Finding the latter brings Jabari a step closer to the former, when moving into his dream apartment introduces him to his new neighbor, photographer it-girl, Meadow (Jessica Williams). An explosion of art, music, and fashion, Entergalactic takes place in the only city that can handle all three: New York.
Alongside Mescudi and Williams, Entergalactic boasts an all-star cast including Timothée Chalamet, Ty Dolla $ign, Laura Harrier, Vanessa Hudgens, Christopher Abbott, 070 Shake, Jaden Smith, Keith David, Teyana Taylor, Arturo Castro and Macaulay Culkin. DNEG Animation leads include VFX Supervisor Archie Donato, Animation Director Kapil Sharma and CG Animation Producer Chrissy Metge. Coming to Netflix September 30.
In related news: Later on Thursday, the DNEG company and Sports Ventures Acquisition Corp. announced today that the companies have mutually agreed to terminate their previously announced business combination agreement, effective immediately, as a result of current unfavorable SPAC market conditions and other factors.
DNEG recently announced revenue outperformance in a business update with strong year-over-year growth and a record pipeline of new business reflecting unprecedented demand for its visual effects and animation services.
“Due to the headwinds in the SPAC marketplace and general market volatility, we have decided to terminate our SPAC process with Sports Ventures. Alan and the team at Sports Ventures have been great partners in this process, and we wish them well as they move forward,” said DNEG Chairman & CEO Namit Malhotra.
“We feel incredibly optimistic about DNEG’s future and the Company continues to demonstrate impressive financial results, with our highest-ever revenue growth announced earlier this week. Our strong pipeline reflects the significant demand for our industry-leading visual effects and animation services, as evidenced by our recently announced multi-year deal extension and VFX services renewal agreement with Netflix through 2025.”