A round-up of what’s happening on the management side of animation: Bob Bacon will head up the new Los Angeles feature animation company Alpha Animation, Illumination exec Dave Rosenbaum will help Cinesite build its feature animation studio in Montreal, and Universal solidifies the leadership structure of its new subsidiary, DreamWorks Animation:
China’s Alpha Group, an entertainment group that already owns more than 10 animation studios in China, has named Bob Bacon as the CEO of its new Los Angeles subsidiary Alpha Animation, which will be dedicated to producing “high-quality animated feature content for a worldwide audience.”
Bacon, who most recently served as Paramount Animation’s executive vice president of production, will oversee all aspects of development, production, and operations at Alpha’s fledgling division. Prior to working at Paramount, Bacon had a 15-year career at Disney’s feature animation division, and when he left the company in 2006, he was the executive vice president of Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Alpha plans to do pre-production for animated features in Los Angeles, before animating the films elsewhere. It’s a similar set-up to another China-backed studio, Original Force, which at last count had nearly two dozen artists working in Los Angeles on its feature film projects.
Alpha Animation hasn’t announced any titles, but is actively developing both original titles and leveraging content from its other subsidiaries. The company has a rich library of content to draw from, including U17.com, a large online comic book platform in China, which was acquired by Alpha Group last year. Alpha also owns a popular children’s TV network in southern China, Jiajia Cartoon. Alpha plans to release its first title 2020 and to produce a film per year thereafter.
“I am thrilled to join Alpha Animation and thank Alpha Group Founder and Chairman, Mr. Cai [Dongqing], and Mr. Chen [De Rong] for the opportunity to build an artist-friendly, world-class animation business here in Los Angeles,” Bacon said in a statement. “It’s an exciting time for the animation industry, and I’m looking forward to working with the best and brightest talent to create great stories and characters to entertain an international audience.”
To help grow and expand its foray into feature animation, visual effects production company Cinesite has hired Dave Rosenbaum in the role of chief creative officer.
Rosenbaum joins the studio from Illumination Entertainment, where he was vice president of talent and helped to shape the company’s feature films, marketing, video games, and theme park rides. He also served as production executive and story supervisor for Despicable Me 1 & 2, The Lorax, The Secret Life of Pets, and the upcoming Sing.
Prior to joining Illumination, Dave worked at DreamWorks and Screen Imagination Agency in Bulgaria. He received his Master’s Degree in Producing from the American Film Institute.
“Dave is one of the industry’s most highly regarded animation executives, with an impeccable track record of shaping movies that become culture phenomena,” said Antony Hunt, president of Cinesite Animation. “Dave’s drive, passion and vision will harness a new phase of expansion for us, as he leads our studio’s growing slate.”
In addition to building and expanding Cinesite’s film slate, Rosenbaum will be responsible for seeking out and cultivating new projects, artists, writers, and directors at Cinesite’s 54,000-square-feet animation studio in downtown Montreal.
“To grow our studio with impressive capacity and potential, to support talented filmmakers, and to deliver great animated films to a worldwide audience is an exciting opportunity,” Rosenbaum said. “Let’s start with the best stories and storytellers and make Montreal the next animation nexus.”
Following NBCUniversal’s acquisition of DreamWorks Animation, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group has announced a new leadership structure for the famed animation studio.
The changes aren’t particularly drastic. Both the feature and TV sides of DreamWorks will continue with their existing leadership, though they will now report to Universal execs. Feature animation will be run by co-presidents, Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria, under the leadership of Universal Pictures chairman, Donna Langley, while Margie Cohn will lead the integrated DreamWorks and Universal television animation business, reporting to Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman, Jeff Shell. Former DreamWorks animation president, Ann Daly, will serve as an advisor during the transition.
Illumination Entertainment president Chris Meledandri, who had been touted as a potential boss for Dreamworks, does not have a role in the newly announced leadership, though it’s not out of the question that he will become involved after the end of DreamWorks’ distribution deal with Fox.
NBCUniversal brand development president, Vince Klaseus, will lead the combined Universal and DreamWorks Animation games, digital and consumer products organization, reporting to Shell. Former DreamWorks Animation CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, will become chairman of DreamWorks new media, which will oversee NBCU’s ownership stakes in Awesomeness TV and NOVA.