There’s been a change of leadership at Locksmith Animation, the young London studio behind the upcoming feature Ron’s Gone Wrong. Natalie Fischer, former COO of Illumination Entertainment, has joined as CEO.
Sarah Smith, one of the studio’s co-founders, has stepped down in order to focus on her own projects. She co-directed and co-wrote Ron’s Gone Wrong. Julie Lockhart, another Locksmith co-founder and the producer of Ron’s Gone Wrong, has been named the studio’s president of production. The announcements were made by Elisabeth Murdoch, Locksmith chair and co-founder (and daughter of Rupert).
Fischer was with Illumination from its infancy, playing a key role in its launch in 2007. She joined in 2009 as head of business development, and since 2017 she has been a senior advisor to the company. She previously held roles at Universal and the U.K.’s Channel 4.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Liz, Julie, and the incredible Locksmith team at an exciting time in the animation industry,” said Fischer in a statement. “We have big opportunities ahead and I look forward to using my experience to help drive this new phase of growth at Locksmith.”
Locksmith has had a bumpy ride since its launch in 2014. An initial production deal with Paramount Pictures was revoked following a change of leadership at the U.S. studio. It then formed a pact with 20th Century Fox, but when Disney acquired Fox, that arrangement collapsed (Disney will still release Ron’s Gone Wrong, which is slate to hit theaters on October 22).
Locksmith has since signed a new deal with Warner Bros. and is at work on two other films: That Christmas, a holiday film based on the children’s book series by filmmaker Richard Curtis (Love Actually), and an original musical comedy.