Bill Joyce, one of the co-founders of Moonbot Studios, is re-establishing the company in its original city, Shreveport, Louisiana.
Originally formed in 2011, the company won an Academy Award, four Emmy Awards, fourteen Cannes Lions Awards, and seventeen Clio Awards, before its original investors pulled out last fall and the company was forced to lay off its employees.
Prior to forming Moonbot, Joyce had had a successful career in children’s books and animation. His stories provided the concepts for Disney’s Meet the Robinsons and Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians, and he was the production designer of Blue Sky’s Robots and the co-creator of the Disney preschool series Rolie Polie Olie.
According to a press release, Moonbot had a difficult stretch before it disbanded last year:
The company hit trying times when Joyce’s teenage daughter and then his wife were each confronted with terminal illnesses. With Bill’s time divided the company turned more to work for hire commercials and gaming initiatives. The ambitions to generate sustaining revenue were not realized, and the company eventually dissolved after exploring some alternatives that would have moved the company away from Shreveport. Joyce was able to retain all his intellectual properties and after a year of recovering from his family’s tragic losses he was ready to rebuild.
“I intend to bring Moonbot back to its original purpose,” Joyce said in a statement. “Original books, feature animation, and television that can delight a worldwide audience. Shreveport is my hometown. The idea of home and family is a part of all my work. So keeping Moonbot here makes every kind of sense.”
Moonbot expects to secure a new studio space soon, as well as announce its first theatrical project, for which Joyce intends to do pre-production in Shreveport. The company will also continue its publishing imprint with Simon & Schuster.
The company, however, will have to rebuild its crew. The other two Moonbot founders, Brandon Oldenburg and Lampton Enochs, along with a number of Moonbot’s core talent, have decamped to Dallas to set up Flight School, a new emerging-tech studio backed by Reel FX. Another dozen or so employees were hired by the deep-pocketed virtual reality/augmented reality Florida startup Magic Leap.
Joyce remains confident that he can re-establish the company in Louisiana. “We were able to recruit some of the best young talent in America,” he said. “They liked our spirit, our bare-knuckled gumption, but more than anything they liked the stories we wanted to tell. Good storytelling is the heart of everything I’ve ever done. And I wanted it to be the DNA of Moonbot.”