There’s more than a few ways to fund an animated feature nowadays, but the surest one of all is to simply be the child of a billionaire.
Ask Travis Knight, son of Nike chairman Phil Knight (net worth: $26.5 billion), whose studio Laika has now made four features, including last year’s Kubo and the Two Strings.
Or Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle founder Larry Ellison (net worth: $56.2 billion), who produced last year’s hit Sausage Party through her production company Annapurna Pictures.
Megan’s brother, David Ellison, 34, announced today that he, too, wants a shot at producing animated features. He’s going to do so through his film financing/production company Skydance Media. The company has deep pockets, having raised over $700 million last year, including $200 million in equity from investors, and a $500 million line of credit from J.P. Morgan Chase.
To move into production quickly, Skydance signed a multi-year partnership with Madrid’s Ilion Animation Studios (Planet 51, Paramount’s upcoming Amusement Park).
The two companies will work together to create a a slate of “high-end” animated features and tv series, beginning with these two projects:
An untitled project, written by Linda Woolverton (Maleficent, Disney’s original Beauty and the Beast), about Elian, a teenager who comes of age using her magical powers to defend her family when the opposing forces of light and darkness threaten to divide her kingdom. Scheduled for release in 2019, the film has Woolverton as producer along with David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Ilion’s Ignacio Pérez Dolset and Jose F San Román.
Luck, a comedy that “pulls back the curtain on the millennia-old battle between the organizations of good luck and bad luck that secretly affects our daily lives.” Writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (Kung Fu Panda trilogy, Trolls) are scripting. They will produce alongside David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Ilion’s Ignacio Pérez Dolset and Jose F San Román.
“It is incredibly gratifying to see one of my deepest passions come to life as we enter the animation business with Ilion,” Ellison said via press release. “Together we aim to bring together the most creative visionaries, the best-in-class production skills, and the highest degree of technological innovation in the service of great stories.”
Skydance chief creative officer Dana Goldberg is overseeing the slate of animated films for the company.
“In addition to being known as one of the very best homes for artists in all of Hollywood today, it is their great track record of making movies with wide global reach that attracted us to Skydance,” said Ilion CEO Jose F San Román. “Together with our exceptionally talented writers and the experienced team at Skydance, we cannot wait to get started on the production of these first two animated films.”
Founded in 2010 by Ellison, Skydance has already involved itself with numerous high profile projects including Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Star Trek Beyond, World War Z, and the Mission: Impossible series. Upcoming slate includes Sony’s Life, and Paramount’s Baywatch and Annihilation. Skydance acquired game maker Workshop Entertainment last year, and will debut Archangel — its first original vr title — in July through its new division Skydance Interactive.