The Hollywood Reporter -- Warner Bros is making a serious stab to enter the blockbuster animation field, forming an animation think tank to make what it calls high-end animated motion pictures.
The group consists of John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, who directed Crazy, Stupid, Love for the studio, and Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who directed the animated hit Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and are directing The Lego Movie for the studio. Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets) and Jared Stern (Mr. Popper's Penguins) also are part of the creative consortium.
The members of the think tank are not exclusive to the studio. The filmmakers also will be encouraged to collaborate with each other on their projects.
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The studio hopes that once the process gets going, it will be able to release one feature per year. It is not creating an animated division and the films will be release under the Warner Bros. Pictures banner. The development and story reel process will be spearheaded from the studio's Burbank headquarters but the actual animation will be done with an established animation house. Lego Movie is an example of the process; it was developed by producers Roy Lee and Dan Lin, but much of the animation is being produced by Australia-based Animal Logic.
Warners is aiming to follow Lego in 2015 with Storks, conceived and being written by Stoller and to be directed by Doug Sweetland, who helmed the Oscar-winning Pixar short Presto. For 2016, it is developing Smallfoot, written by Requa and Ficarra and based on an idea by Sergio Pablos, the animator who wrote Despicable Me and would make his feature directorial debut with Smallfoot.
Courtenay Valenti, Chris deFaria and Greg Silverman will oversee the animated slate.
"Warner Bros. has an extraordinary legacy in the world of animation, including some of the most enduring characters in cinema history," said Warner Pictures Group president Jeff Robinov. "Looking to the future, we have now gathered some of the best and brightest talents in the industry to help us grow and broaden that legacy. Drawing upon their imaginations and inspiration, the studio will produce a slate of new and original animated films that are sure to delight audiences of all ages."
Warners is kicking off its new animated slate with the Lego Movie, which Lord and Miller are directing from their screenplay. The film's voice cast includes Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson.
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