Epic Games Leads $20 Million Funding Round For Spire Animation Studios
Spire Animation Studios has closed a $20 million funding round which includes an investment from Epic Games.
The studio will use Epic’s Unreal Engine to produce animated features, as well as build “worlds and experiences for the metaverse.” The studio had previously said it was using a real-time workflow based in the cloud and built on “a popular, state-of-the-art game engine.”
This set-up will let Spire port assets from its films into the metaverse where audiences will engage with them, in what studio co-founder and CEO P.J. Gunsagar calls “meta-distribution.” He says, “Audiences will live and interact authentically and persistently with characters and worlds without having to wait years after a movie’s release. Story-living through vr, ar, and metaverse experiences is the future.”
The first film on which this approach will be used is Trouble, which the studio is producing with Danny McBride’s Rough House Pictures. Spire is also at work on musical feature Century Goddess, and has other projects in development.
Spire was founded by entrepreneur Gunsagar and veteran producer Brad Lewis (Ratatouille, Storks, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World), who serves as chief creative officer. The studio has built up its team in the pandemic, hiring experienced artists and executives with backgrounds at studios like Pixar, Sony, and Dreamworks. It has operated remotely so far, but plans to open bases in both L.A. and San Francisco.
The new money will be used for team expansion, studio technology and infrastructure build-out, and creative development. Epic will join the company’s board of directors. The funding round also included existing investor Connect Ventures, a partnership between Hollywood titan Creative Artists Agency and New Enterprise Associates, one of the world’s largest venture firms.
“I’m excited about using Unreal Engine to support the creative process from story through delivery of final pixel,” said Lewis. “The flexibility the engine provides will bring about a more intimate and intuitive filmmaking process, leading to better visuals and stories; everyone on the creative team gets to be in the room where it happens.”