After six years spent building a team, forging partnerships, and exploring “a new economic model” for making animated features, Aniventure has something to show for it.
The London-based animation production company has unveiled its initial slate of three features. In addition, it has signed for representation with Creative Artists Agency, a major Hollywood agency, “to help identify and develop global partners for its business.” Here is the slate, complete with official descriptions:
- Riverdance: An Animated Adventure (Aniventure and River Productions), based on the stage show phenomenon of the same name and featuring Bill Whelan’s multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning music. Currently in post-production. Delivering in 2020.
- Blazing Samurai (Aniventure and Blazing Productions), based on Mel Brooks’s classic film Blazing Saddles. Directed by Mark Koetsier (story artist, The Grinch, Big Hero 6, Madagascar: Escape To Africa) and overseen and produced by Rob Minkoff (director, The Lion King, Mr Peabody & Sherman, Stuart Little 1&2). Delivering in 2021.
- Hitpig (Aniventure), from Pulitzer Prize-winner Berkeley Breathed, who is serving as executive producer and production designer on the film. Directed by Cinzia Angelini (director, Mila; story artist, Minions, Despicable Me 3) & Maurizio Parimbelli (animation director, Peter Rabbit tv series; animator, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas). Delivering in 2022.
The films are in production at Cinesite, with which Aniventure has a first-look service deal. The London-based media company is best known for its vfx work (Avengers: Endgame, No Time to Die), but has also produced animation before (The Addams Family was made at its Vancouver studio). Riverdance was announced as early as 2016, when Aniventure was still known by its original name, Comic Animations.
Founded in 2014, Aniventure has the stated ambition “to challenge industry expectations around development, production, and financing of feature animations [and] to find a new economic model driven by strong creative leadership, efficiency, and new technology.” It adds that “this strategy is designed to deliver very high production values at a budget level that allows the finished films to be economically viable irrespective of the distribution channel chosen.”
The company cites Illumination (Despicable Me, Minions, The Secret Life of Pets) as a model. That company has produced hugely lucrative animated films (through its French subsidiary studio Illumination Mac Guff) on budgets that are lower than some of its rivals, like Pixar and Dreamworks, but still significantly higher than the Aniventure slate.
Dave Rosenbaum, head of creative at Aniventure, said, “Reimaging how high-quality animated films are created and delivered at a better economic risk point was always going to be challenging. For Aniventure’s first film [Riverdance], we assembled a talented team of filmmakers with forward-looking vision and old-fashioned determination. Our head of animation, Eamonn Butler, and I directed the first film to simultaneously test and fine-tune our pipeline and process aimed at setting our business apart.”