Luck, the first feature from Skydance Animation, hasn’t exactly had the best of luck. A year after Emma Thompson, who was due to lead the voice cast, quit the production, Alessandro Carloni has resigned as director. He will be replaced by Peggy Holmes.
According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), which broke the news, Carloni is “exiting the project over creative differences.” Luck was to be the first solo directorial debut from the Kung Fu Panda 3 co-director. Holmes, who was given a development deal at Skydance last year, has several features to her name, including Disney spin-off features The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, Secret of the Wings, and The Pirate Fairy. She has also worked as a dancer and choreographer.
Luck is described as “a comedy that pulls back the curtain on the millennia-old battle between the organizations of good luck and bad luck that secretly affects our daily lives.”
THR quotes Skydance Animation president Holly Edwards as saying, “Peggy is an incredible creative talent and has already been a huge asset to our growing animation studio over the past year. We’re so happy to have her leading the team creating Luck. She has the perfect mix of experience and artistic vision to bring this exciting project to the screen.”
Skydance Animation was launched in 2017 as a division of Skydance Media, the film production company founded by David Ellison (who is the son of billionaire entrepreneur Larry Ellison). Last January, John Lasseter, former creative leader of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, was hired to lead the division. He was appointed only days after his contract with Disney had been terminated, in the wake of widespread allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.
Lasseter’s appointment prompted outrage across the industry. Thompson broke ties with the studio last January because of concerns over working with him. She expressed those concerns in an excoriating letter to Skydance’s management, which was later made public. In it, she condemned the decision to hire Lasseter, and added, “I love Alessandro so much and think he is an incredibly creative director.”
Edwards was named president of Skydance Animation weeks after Thompson’s departure. Whereas Lasseter oversees the studio’s creative strategy, she is said to focus on the business side. Her promotion was viewed by many as an attempt by the company to deflect media attention away from its hiring of Lasseter.
Ellison set up Skydance Animation with the stated goal of “building the next great animation studio.” Aside from Luck, its website mentions two other features in the works: Split (working title) from Shrek co-director Vicky Jenson, and Powerless (working title) from Tangled co-director Nathan Greno. It also has “multiple animated television projects” in development.
Skydance is producing Luck with Paramount Pictures in conjunction with Spain’s Ilion Animation Studios; it has long-term deals with both companies. Paramount will distribute. It is scheduled for a release in 2021, although a source told Variety that the production “has not yet hit its stride.”