Skydance Media, the diversified global media company founded by CEO David Ellison in 2010, has acquired the animation unit of Madrid-based Ilion Studios, a world leader in state-of-the-art animation production, to form Skydance Animation Madrid. This strategic acquisition combines the creative capital of Skydance with Ilion’s best-in-class talent, ensuring Skydance Animation’s full oversight of all production aspects guaranteeing quality control throughout the life cycle of every project.
With a combined workforce of almost 500 employees across two continents, Skydance Animation now has the expanded creative capability, scale and leverage to deliver on its goal of becoming an industry-leading producer of high-end animated films and television series for audiences around the world.
Led by former head of Pixar John Lasseter and industry veteran Holly Edwards, Skydance Animation has rapidly grown to support a robust development and expanded production slate. The studio’s roster of creatives has grown to include an array of award-winning talent, including Vicky Jenson, director of the first-ever Academy Award-winner for Best Animated Feature, Shrek; Peggy Holmes; Nathan Greno; Kiel Murray; Lauren Hynek; Elizabeth Martin; and Tony Award-nominee and Writers Guild of America West’s Animation Writers Caucus lifetime achievement honoree Linda Woolverton.
“The world is going through an unprecedented and uncertain time. Today’s acquisition marks the culmination of many months of work to build one studio across two continents, with the goal of creating the highest-quality animation, led by best-in-class talent from around the world,” said Ellison. “The addition of Skydance Animation Madrid to our portfolio of businesses underlines my passion and commitment to bringing iconic animated stories and characters to life from some of the most talented artists and voices in the industry.”
“We are excited to expand our partnership with Skydance Animation and to further collaborate with Skydance founder David Ellison and elite talent like John Lasseter and Holly Edwards,” said Ignacio Pérez Dolset, Founder, President & Chief Creative Officer of Ilion. “This is a phenomenal growth opportunity for our team in Spain and we’re proud to be an integral part of Skydance’s exciting future.”
Skydance Animation’s upcoming feature slate includes:
- Luck | Directed by Peggy Holmes (The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning) and written by Kiel Murray (Cars, Cars 3) and Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger (Kung Fu Panda movies). When the unluckiest girl alive stumbles upon the never-before-seen world of good and bad luck, she must join together with magical creatures to uncover a force more powerful than even luck itself.
- Spellbound (working title) | Directed by Vicky Jenson (Shrek, Shark Tale) and written by Lauren Hynek & Elizabeth Martin (Mulan ) and Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King). A musical fantasy set in a world of magic where a young girl sets out to break the spell that has split her kingdom in two.
- Pookoo (working title/currently in development) | Written and directed by Nathan Greno (Tangled) and produced by Jennifer Magee-Cook (The Princess and the Frog).
In addition, Skydance Animation has a slate of soon-to-be-announced high-end television series in various stages of development.
Ilion Animation Studios creates state-of-the-art computer animated feature films of the highest level, combining cutting-edge technology with top artistic quality. Ilion’s animation unit has become a model studio on a global basis, capable of attracting talented individuals who create best-in-class animation production. Feature film credits include Planet 51, Mortadelo and Filemon: Mission Implausible and Wonder Park.
Latham & Watkins LLP (Los Angeles and Madrid) acted as legal adviser to Skydance Media and Loyra Abogados (Madrid) provided counsel to Ilion in this transaction.