The Disney Animation diaspora continues to grow, with key names from its feature animation operation branching out to helm projects of their own. The latest person to jump ship is Hyrum Osmond, head of animation on Moana, who is attached to direct On Animation’s adaptation of Winsor McCay’s iconic comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland.
Budget at a luxe $70 million, the film will be produced at On’s studio in Montreal, Canada. The Paris-based company also produced Mark Osborne’s The Little Prince and is currently producing The Playmobil Movie (working title) directed by Lino DiSalvo, who was the head of animation on Disney’s Frozen.
The film will be produced by On Animation studio chiefs Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam, along with Alexis Vonarb and Emmanuel Jacomet.
Little Nemo is “truly an unlimited source for astonishing adventures,” Soumache told Variety, which first reported the project. “McCay created a world made for cgi a century before the technology existed. It’s a passion project at the heart of On Animation’s philosophy: a beloved property leading to a story of emotional truth, set against a never-before-seen world.”
Osmond, 40, had worked at Disney for his entire professional career, starting on the 2008 film Bolt. In addition to heading up the animation on Moana,, he also animated on Tangled, Prep & Landing, Wreck-It Ralph, and Zootopia. On Frozen, he was the supervising animator of Olaf.
Osmond told Variety: “Little Nemo in Slumberland is a masterpiece that has influenced generations all over the world, breaking new ground in visual storytelling. I look forward to joining the amazing team at On Animation to bring this beloved work to life.”
Lino DiSalvo and former Illumination vp of development Tito Ortiz will both serve as producers on Little Nemo. In addition to guiding this film, DiSalvo and Ortiz are also in charge of creative development at the studio, and will lead the company’s efforts to develop projects in-house at its Montreal studio.
Besides Osmond and DiSalvo, others who have left Disney recently include directors Nathan Greno (Tangled), Leo Matsuda (Inner Workings), John Kahrs (Paperman), and Patrick Osborne (Feast), as well as Tangled animation supervisor Clay Kaytis.