Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Newcomer

Recently, there have been a lot of announcements concerning up-and-coming animation studios. Houses wanting to get in on the animated feature action…

Sarah Smith, director of Aardman's wonderful Arthur Christmas, is jumpstarting a studio called Locksmith. VFX house Double Negative is starting an animation studio. John H. Williams of Shrek fame is going to go at it again, after his Vanguard Animation didn't pan out, with a new studio called 3QU. Let's also not forget Digital Domain's attempt to start an animation studio, which was unfortunately killed… Oh what potential they had! Film director Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter 1 & 2) now wants in.

He, Michael Barnathan, Haim Saban (Power Rangers co-creator and founder/CEO of Saban), and Jeremy Zag (founder of Zag Entertainment and their TV animation unit Zagtoon) have teamed up to launch ZAG Animation Studios. What will they specialize in? You guessed it, family-friendly animated films. They intend to release one animated film and one live-action/CGI hybrid every calendar year starting in 2017! Wow, talk about aiming high! They also intend to set up shop in Glendale.

Here's what Mr. Saban had to say…

"This is an incredible moment for our business as we partner to create a world-class animation studio that will produce extraordinary feature films, ZAG Animation Studios will deliver creative and compelling family entertainment for generations to come."

Creative and compelling? I sure hope so, let this not be another studio that just makes forgettable Pixar or Disney wannabes that come and go. I felt some studios fell into that trap, but recent newcomer Reel FX hasn't, with their well-received and very unique The Book of Life. The three features in development at this studio right now include Melody (animated), Ghostforce (hybrid), and Abominable (animated)…

I wonder what Melody is about. A musical, perhaps? Or a story using lots of songs as a backdrop? Ghostforce, I assume, is about a team of ghosts… Sounds a bit like DreamWorks' B.O.O., but again, we don't know. Abominable's title seems obvious, but then again they could surprise us and that it won't be about an abominable snowman or a yeti.

Anyways, I wish the best of luck to this new up-and-coming studio.


  1. I always liked Haim Saban. His involvement in Power Rangers was a stroke of pure genius.

  2. With this, I really hope animation will come in in bundles to challenge the live action medium as another medium and not as a genre. In the past, no one could get past WDAS' strength and always failed to surpass WDAS in power (Don Buth, Warner, Fox, etc). Now, after Pixar came in, everything changed: their introduction to CG completely shifted the industry and noe more animated films are coming in more numbers. All I really want now are good films coming out, not bad Big3 wannabe films. Book of Life succeeded in this, and so is Laika. Let's see what Warner can do non-Lego. Everyone else needs to catch up

    1. Don Bluth had his 15 minutes of fame, as 'An American Tail' was at one point the highest grossing animated feature film on its initial release. Bluth happened to competing with a studio that was perhaps almost on its way out. Other than that, prior to Pixar, they've always been king.