Bill Damaschke Bill Damaschke

Longtime Dreamworks executive Bill Damaschke is set to take over Warner Animation Group (WAG), the feature animation division of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Damaschke and Warner Bros. are currently in advanced negotiations for him to take the job, per a report in Deadline. Details about Damaschke’s role are still to be announced.

WAG has been operating without a dedicated boss since August when Allison Abbate stepped down from the job. Just weeks prior to Abbate’s departure, the studio abruptly canned Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, despite the fact that the film was weeks away from completion. One of the producers and writers on that project was Abbate’s husband Tony Cervone.

Damascke will have an uphill battle should he take over the creatively rudderless division. In recent year, WAG been been focused exclusively on franchise extensions and reboots of library characters, such as Space Jam: A New Legacy, Tom & Jerry, Scoob!, and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. The division scored a minor hit last year with DC League of Super-Pets, which grossed over $200 million globally.

Upcoming WAG projects include Coyote vs. Acme, which is well on its way to completion, and a Cat in the Hat feature that is still in development. The studio is also expected to play a role in the company’s broader plans to extend the DC universe.

Damaschke has a long history in the industry. He launched his animation career as a production assistant on Disney’s Pocahontas, followed by a two-decade stint at Dreamworks where he eventually became a top figurehead at the studio and oversaw the production of franchises like How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda.

Dreamworks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg once said of Damaschke, “Bill is the student who has become better than the teacher. Today he is much more the creative driver here, and more often than not, I find myself wanting to hear his notes, his critique, before my own.” Damaschke stepped down from the studio’s creative officer role in late-2014, at a time when Dreamworks was struggling with its output.

In 2017, he took over the animation and family entertainment division of Skydance, a tenure that was cut short a little over a year later after John Lasseter became the head of Skydance’s animation studio. Damaschke has also produced various theatrical productions including Shrek the Musical and Moulin Rouge!

Damaschke is also currently selling one of L.A.’s most iconic houses, The Garcia House, for $16 million. The house is a mid-century masterpiece by architect John Lautner, who also designed the UPA animation studio. Damaschke and his partner John McIlwee purchased the home in 2002 for $1.3 million and undertook an extensive restoration that honored Lautner’s original vision. A short documentary about the home can be seen below:

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