Disney Appoints Andrew Millstein Blue Sky Co-Prez, Clark Spencer Upped to Disney Animation Prez

With the recent addition of Blue Sky Studios to Disney’s portfolio of film studios, The Walt Disney Studios’ Chief Creative Officer and Co-Chairman Alan Horn and Co-Chairman Alan Bergman announced today that Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) President Andrew Millstein and Zootopia producer and longtime creative executive Clark Spencer are stepping into new leadership roles at Disney’s animation studios.

As Blue Sky prepares to build out its upcoming film slate, Millstein will join the studio as Co-President alongside Co-President Robert Baird. Baird will continue to drive the creative direction of the studio reporting to Horn and Bergman, and Millstein will oversee day-to-day operations. Millstein will report to Jim Morris, who will expand his duties with a supervisory role at Blue Sky outside of his role as President, Pixar Animation Studios.

Spencer has been named President, Walt Disney Animation Studios, reporting to Bergman and working alongside WDAS Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee, who continues to report to Horn and Bergman.

“We are incredibly proud of the strength and depth of leadership in our animation studios, and Andrew, Clark, and Jim are all exemplars of that. The remarkable success of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios over the past decade is due in large part to the respective leadership of Andrew and Jim and their ability to foster creativity, technology, and culture in equal parts, and we are thrilled that they will be lending their experience to the Blue Sky team along with Robert Baird’s creative guidance,” said Horn and Bergman. “Clark has been an invaluable leader and contributor at Disney Animation, combining exceptional creative and business instincts, and we’re so pleased he will be leading this historic studio in a key role alongside Jennifer Lee.”

A 22-year Disney veteran, Andrew Millstein has served as President of Walt Disney Animation Studios since 2014 and General Manager of WDAS since 2008. Under his leadership, the studio has produced such creative and commercial successes as the Academy Award-winning billion-dollar hits Frozen and Zootopia, as well as Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Big Hero 6 and Moana.

Clark Spencer has been with Disney for nearly 30 years, during which he has produced five Oscar-nominated feature films for Walt Disney Animation Studios. He received both an Academy Award and a Producers Guild Award for Zootopia, as well as a PGA Award for Wreck-It Ralph, and is also the producer of hit films Lilo & Stitch, Bolt and Ralph Breaks the Internet. Spencer began his career at Disney in strategic planning and finance, later overseeing all production and operations at Florida-based Disney Feature Animation as Senior Vice President and General Manager. He earned his MBA in 1990 at Harvard Business School.

Jim Morris has been with Pixar since 2005. As General Manager since 2008 and President since 2014, Morris has overseen a hugely successful and critically acclaimed slate of films that include Wall-E, which he produced, Up, Toy Story 3, Inside Out, Coco and, most recently, Toy Story 4. Prior to joining Pixar, he spent nearly 20 years in executive roles at Lucasfilm.

Animation Magazine

DHX Appoints Key Execs to Drive Original Animation Output

DHX Media announces that Stephanie Betts has been promoted to the role of Executive Vice President, Content, and will be responsible for development and production of DHX Media’s slate of original animated content, reporting to Josh Scherba, President. In addition, Todd Brian has joined the Company in the newly created role of Director of Development, Animation, reporting to Betts.

“We’re producing an amazing slate of original content for the world’s top streaming platforms and broadcasters, and our development pipeline is rich with exciting new projects,” said Scherba. “Stephanie has been integral to the DHX Media story for many years, and as we increase our focus on high-quality original content, her vision and expertise in development and production make her an ideal leader for our talented content team.”

Betts added, “I’m excited to continue finding new approaches to developing our evergreen brands for a contemporary kids and family audience, while expanding our slate of original content by collaborating with the creative community to develop ideas into the next big global franchises.”

As Executive Vice President, Content, Stephanie Betts applies her many years of experience in kids’ and family content, fostering, managing and expanding DHX Media’s animated content slate. Betts’ expertise lies in building strong, creatively-driven teams, and in developing series that kids around the world love. Drawing on more than 16 years’ experience developing and producing award-winning series, Betts has spearheaded numerous DHX Media shows, including new Peanuts content, Strawberry Shortcake, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Inspector Gadget, Teletubbies, Polly Pocket and Chip and Potato. Prior to joining DHX Media, Betts worked as a Producer and Development Executive at Breakthrough Films and Television, and previously at Atomic Cartoons.

A graduate of Ryerson University’s Film Studies program and the Canadian Film Centre, Todd Brian has spent years building strong industry relationships while working in various senior creative positions on both animation and live-action productions. A few of his notable past roles have included time spent at Corus Entertainment as a Production Executive/Corus Kids (YTV, Teletoon, Treehouse), where he oversaw a robust slate of projects in development and production; Development Executive/Kids & Family at Toronto-based marblemedia; Senior Writer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC); and multiple credits as a writer/story editor ranging from preschool to tween/family co-view programming. Brian is thrilled to join the DHX Media team and share his passion for kids and family content.

Animation Magazine

Folks Appoints VFX Supe Laurent Spillemaecker Head of 2D

Montreal-based studio Folks has appointed VFX Supervisor Laurent Spillemaecker as Head of 2D. In his new role, Spillemaecker will lead the development growth of the 2D department, manage production and mentor the compositing team, as well as adding his expertise to the executive team. His augmenting of the soon-to-be 100-strong team at Folks ties with the studio’s ongoing efforts to build and improve its unique creative hub.

With a career spanning over 20 years, Spillemaecker has established himself as a pillar of the visual effects community. Before joining Folks, he spent 10 years at Rodeo FX, where he was instrumental in helping the former start-up reach 500 employees. Prompted by his natural leadership, he oversaw several of the studio’s world-class projects as VFX Supervisor and Head of 2D.

“Laurent’s tasteful aesthetic and in-depth technical knowledge make him an outstanding artist. It is an honour to count him among our renowned leaders,” said Sebastien Bergeron, President and co-founder of Folks. “We’ve surrounded ourselves with a roster of changemakers who each play a significant role in conducting innovation. Together, we aspire to build an exemplary studio where deep-rooted relationships meet a creative high-tech environment.”

“My main objective is to help the studio grow in experience and know-how rather than in size,” Spillemaecker commented.”Folks convinced me that I have a part to play in their community, that I could share my expertise and develop the team while evolving in a more engaging; more humane environment”.

Animation Magazine

Animoca Appoints Kabam Co-Founder Holly Liu to Board of Directors

Holly Liu

Mobile games and subscription products developer/publisher Animoca Brands Corporation has appointed entrepreneur Holly Liu as Non-Executive Director and strategic advisor to its board of directors. Liu is co-founder of venture-backed mobile gaming company Kabam and has been named one of Fortune’s “10 Most Powerful Women in Gaming” and Forbes’ “12 Women in Gaming to Watch.”

Liu co-founded Kabam in 2006, where she led the design of the award-winning Kingdoms of Camelot franchise — which grossed over $ 250 million in just four years. Other successful Kabam titles include The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth and Marvel Contest of Champions. Liu was instrumental in growing the company’s annual revenue from zero to$ 400m. She was also the founding mobile designer for the game extension Battle for the North, which made Kingdoms of Camelot the highest-grossing app for iPhone and iPad in 2012.

In January 2017, the majority of Kabam’s assets were acquired by Netmarble, South Korea’s largest mobile gaming company. Following the transaction, two of Kabam’s remaining studios formed Aftershock, which was subsequently acquired by FoxNext for an undisclosed amount. Following her exit from Kabam and Aftershock, Liu took on a role as a visiting partner at Y Combinator, an accelerator providing seed funding to nearly 2,000 startups with a combined value of over $ 80 billion.

“We are very excited to have attracted someone of Holly’s calibre to the board of Animoca Brands,” said Yat Siu, co-founder and director of Animoca Brands. “Holly has co-founded, led and exited a billion dollar company and her advice and guidance will be essential as we drive growth in new areas of focus like blockchain gaming and AI.”

Liu commented: “I am delighted to be joining the Board of Animoca Brands and feel privileged to be trusted as a strategic advisor to this dynamic company at the forefront of blockchain and AI in mobile gaming. I look forward to help the company grow and drive value for shareholders as we leverage these exciting technologies.”

Animoca Brands is based in Hong Kong and Finland; its titles include Crazy Kings, Crazy Defense Heroes and products based on popular IPs including Garfield, Thomas & Friends, Ever After High and Doraemon.

More info at www.animocabrands.com.

Holly Liu

Holly Liu

Animoca Brands

Animoca Brands

Animation Magazine

Media IM Appoints Evolution as NorAm Partner for ‘Sunny Bunnies’

Sunny Bunnies

Sunny Bunnies

London-based animation & family entertainment distributor Media I.M. has tapped Evolution to exclusively represent the North American licensing, merchandising and promotions rights for Belarus-produced animated series Sunny Bunnies (52 x 3’30”). The preschool-targeted show has been  licensed to key broadcasters across the globe, including Disney Junior and Disney Channel in the US.

The show centers on five ball-shaped characters who can appear wherever there is light. The non-dialog, CGI series follows their mischievous adventures in all sorts of locales. Season 1 has already hopped to TV screens in the US and around the world, and has a significant following on YouTube with over 90 million views to date.

Evolution’s aim will be to expand the available array of Sunny Bunnies producs for kids, including apparel, accessories, publishing, toys, plush, home, stationery, food, and health & beauty goods. The agency will also handle promotional and marketing alliances in the region. Evolution will debut the property at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, May 23-25 at booth #C86.

“We are very excited to be working with such an experienced group of executives at Media I.M. and the talented animation team at Digital Light Studios on this fun and engaging series,” said Travis Rutherford, President, Licensing & Retail, Evolution. “We expect a significant consumer products program to be deployed in the North American market beginning with core categories available at select retailers in Spring 2018. Our carefully constructed brand expansion strategy will build Sunny Bunnies into one of the premiere children’s TV franchises.”

Sunny Bunnies

Sunny Bunnies

Animation Magazine

Platinum Films Appoints Bomanbridge to Rep ‘Matt Hatter’ in Asia

platinum-films-150

UK children’s entertainment company Platinum Films has appointed Bomanbridge Media as its TV distribution partner in Asia for popular animated adventure-comedy Matt Hatter Chronicles. The Singapore-based agency will market and license all four seasons of the series (52 x 22 min.) as well as the brand-new Matt Hatter TV movie (60 min.) through a three-year exclusive representation deal. Bomanbridge will showcase the property at MIPTV at Booth P-1.E18.

“Bomanbridge is thrilled to work with Platinum Films to bring Matt Hatter Chronicles to Asia. The series has ranked #1 in ratings on channels such as ITV in the UK, and Cartoon Network in Australia, to mention a few. This program brings impressive production budgets, high calibre animation and an immediate attention grabbing storyline to children everywhere,” said Sonia Fleck, CEO of Bomanbridge Media. “We believe this action-packed kids’ comedy series will resonate with our young audiences here, bringing about lucrative revenue streams and high ratings for all our broadcast platforms. Bomanbridge prides itself on offering the best programs to our broadcast partners and we are thrilled to have Matt Hatter added to our catalogue.”

Aimed at kids 6-10, Matt Hatter Chronicles follows the adventures of Matt Hatter, a schoolboy whose life is changed forever when he discovers a secret dimension known as the Multiverse. As the new Hatter Hero, it’s up to Matt, with the help of friends Roxie and Gomez, to battle and capture Super Villains from movie, myth and legend to save the Multiverse and free his Grandpa. The show has sold extensively worldwide, including to Cartoon Network, Disney XD and ITV.

“Expansion into Asia is the next phase in a deliberate and considered broadcast strategy for the Matt Hatter brand,” added Natalie Llewellyn, Head of Global Strategy at Platinum Films. “Bomanbridge is superbly positioned to bring Matt Hatter to new audiences across Asia. Their experience, passion and deep knowledge of the Asian market has earnt them a first-class reputation in the region. Matt Hatter is in very safe hands and we are excited about broadening our global footprint.”

Bomanbridge’s hand-picked catalogue currently holds over 4,000 hours of programming covering a range of genres. The agency acts as both a brand strategist and program distributor for entry into Asia Pacific markets.

Matt Hatter Chronicles

Matt Hatter Chronicles

Matt Hatter Chronicles

Matt Hatter Chronicles

Animation Magazine

One Animation Appoints Bettina Koeckler EVP Consumer Products

Bettina Koeckler

Bettina Koeckler

One Animation has appointed Bettina Koeckler as EVP Global Consumer Products and Licensing to lead the business as it begins an ambitious new push. The role has been created in response to the studio’s worldwide success with properties like animated comedy Oddbods.

Koeckler is charged with executing a fast-paced roll-out across all key global markets in 2016 and beyond, as well as creating new business opportunities and strategic partnerships to further drive brand value and commercial revenue opportunities.

Koeckler brings over 20 years of experience to the role, including serving as SVP EMEA for Fox Consumer Products and six years as VP for Licensing at Sony Pictures Consumer Products. She has created and led consumer products campaigns to create revenue growth as well as geographical and commercial expansion for brands such as The Simpsons, Ice Age, Spider-Man, Mr Men and Little Miss, Beatrix Potter and Winx Club.

“Our consumer strategy to capitalize on the success of our shows is a core part of our business plan. To make this happen we’ve created this new role to oversee all of our marketing, licensing and product development teams, as well as strategic partnerships and overall management of retail, agent and agency relationships,” says One Animation CEO Sashim Parmanand. “Bettina’s industry experience and knowledge are exactly what we need to lead our efforts to grow and diversify the business globally.”

Oddbods

Oddbods

Animation Magazine

Rainmaker Appoints Gregory Little SVP of Content

Gregory R. Little

Gregory R. Little

Vancouver-based Rainmaker Entertainment — the studio behind the first-ever CG animated TV series, ReBoot — has appointed veteran content exec Gregory R. Little to the newly created position of Senior Vice President, Content, effective immediately. Rainmaker is currently anticipating the April 29 release of the videogame inspired feature animation Ratchet & Clank, which it produced and served as lead financier for.

Based in Los Angeles, Little will head the studio’s content efforts, anchoring both the creative and strategic sides of the business. Little will oversee creative development, content strategy and sales. His role includes developing business strategies that take advantage of emerging platforms and new distribution models. He will report to Rainmaker’s President and CCO, Michael Hefferon.

The new appointment marks Little’s return to the studio, where he was previously Head of Development and Executive Producer on Rainmaker’s first 3D CG theatrical feature, Escape from Planet Earth, which he brought to the company as a pitch.

From 2010-2014, Little was executive producer and head of the U.S. operations of Dublin-based Brown Bag Films (Doc McStuffins, Peter Rabbit). Prior to this, he was VP of Development for The Gotham Group, overseeing the company’s first-look deal with Sony Pictures Animation for hybrid and animated features. As Head of Development at Rainmaker from 2005-2009, Little spearheaded the studio’s original content creation with Escape from Planet Earth. His production credits also include DVD titles The Nutty Professor: Face the Fear and Tony Hawk in Boom-Boom Sabotage. Little began his career in feature development as a vice president with the Mark Gordon Company in 2001.

In addition to looking forward to the imminent release of Ratchet & Clank — based on the popular Playstation games from Sony and Insomniac Games — Rainmaker’s television division, Mainframe, is busy completing production on HIT Entertainment’s new, updated Bob the Builder preschool series, and preparing to begin production on ReBoot: The Guardian Code, a hybrid live-action/CG 26-episode series which will incorporate cutting-edge technology and multi-platform reach.

Rainmaker Entertainment

Rainmaker Entertainment

Animation Magazine

Disney TV Animation Appoints Key Execs

Disney-Television-Animation-150

Following up Disney Television Animation’s most successful year ever, the company has made several key executive appointments to help further the content development pipelines at Disney Junior, Disney Channel and Disney XD.

Eric Coleman has been named Senior Vice President – Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Television Animation. Additionally, Jonathan Schneider has been promoted to Vice President – Strategy, Aaron Simpson joins Disney as Vice President – Development, Shane Prigmore is now Vice President – Creative Affairs, and Bonnie Lemon has joined the company as Vice President – Production. The announcement was made by Disney Channels Worldwide President & CCO Gary Marsh.

Eric Coleman will lead the TV animation studio, development, casting and music for series on Disney Channel and XD. Coleman has spearheaded the development of Emmy and Annie-winning Mickey Mouse shorts and Gravity Falls and breakout hit Star vs. The Forces of Evil. He will continue to report to Marsh.

Aaron Simpson joins the company from Mondo Media, where he was head of development and exec-produced Fusion TV’s sketch show Like, Share, Die. He has also produced animation for WB, Jib Jab and Sony and is the founder of the Cold Hard Flash and Line Boil animation sites. In his new role, he will oversee all development activity, manage team and work closely with current series to ensure a smooth pilot-to-production flow. Simpson will report to Coleman.

Shane Prigmore joined Disney TVA in 2014 to develop and serve as co-EP and creative director on the upcoming Tangled series. He will now provide creative input across multiple departments including development, current series and production. An Annie-winning character designer, Prigmore’s credits include The LEGO Movie, How to Train Your Dragon, Coraline and The Croods. He will report to Coleman.

Bonnie Lemon joins Disney from DreamWorks Animation, where she most recently served as production executive for features including Kung Fu Panda 3, How to Train Your Dragon 3 and The Penguins of Madagascar. At TVA, she will manage both in-house and outside productions across the Disney Junior slate, streamlining the process from development through post-production. She will work closely with key execs, department heads and creative teams and will report to Lisa Salamone Smith, SVP – Production for Disney Television Animation.

Disney TV Animation Appoints Key Execs

Disney TV Animation Appoints Key Execs

Animation Magazine

Electronic Arts appoints EA Sports head Andrew Wilson its new CEO

Former Executive Vice President of EA Sports Andrew Wilson has taken over as the publisher’s CEO, EA announced today. Wilson delivered a brief message to employees, shareholders, and customers in a message posted to EA’s news blog.

Wilson took over EA Sports in August 2011 and has been with the company for 11 years. He will take over the position left vacant by previous CEO John Riccitiello’s departure in March.

“I envision EA as the World’s Greatest Games Company,” Wilson said. “This is not about what we are aiming for or what we will become. Rather, it is about an unfaltering commitment to what we will be every day. This is an attitude that must drive our culture as one team.”

“I also believe EA’s strategy is sound. Our focus on our talent, our brands and our platform together with our investment in next-generation consoles, mobile and PC free-to-play, as part of our ongoing transition to digital, is right. But we have plenty of work ahead to ensure our collective success.”

Wilson takes the reins in a difficult period. Riccitiello left the company after it failed to meet yearly financial expectations, though new consoles arriving in November will likely give the start of Wilson’s tenure a significant boost.

GamesRadar – Xbox News


Katalyst Leads the Way in ‘Creative Social Programming’ Market and Appoints BUZZmedia Founder Anthony Batt as President Katalyst Continues to Bridge Media, Hollywood and Technology

of social media, as the company’s president. Katalyst is Hollywood’s most innovative studio, creating programming for television, film and the social web. As the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of BUZZmedia, Batt is well-known as a pioneer in marrying
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