Tuesday, May 08, 2007

New business models? Part 2.

It has taken me a while to get this thing out. Between work and the fact that I couldn’t decide on how to best present this… Well, you get the point. I’ve written and re-written the post at least seven times now. The sad part is, it is pretty watered down from my initial version, I’ve just decided to be extra careful. I doubt I could do any harm, but in order to be on the cautious side...

More than a year ago, I started hearing rumors about a group trying to put together a new animation studio in LA. After some digging, I found a little more here and there. Information was very hard to come by. However, as it turns out, someone I know is involved and I was able to extract just a little more from him. He is very tight lipped, but it gave me enough that I could expand my search.

First things first. As of right now, the studio is nothing more than a glimmer in a few eyes. It only consists of a small group of people, a telephone book thick business plan, a few strategic partners, and financial backing. You are probably wondering what the hold up is if they have these ingredients. I wondered the same thing, but based upon a rumor, there is one last hurdle that needs to be leapt before anything can proceed. And yes, it is still possible that it won’t happen at all.

There isn’t a whole lot more I can say. This studio has the ability to immediately jump into the $100+ million per CG feature game. The question is, can they find the talent and compelling stories to do it right? The business people have it together and I’ve been told will stay out of the creative side (we’ll see about that). There is an extremely small foundation of people together to run the animation studio, but nothing more. Of course no real hiring has begun and the hordes of individuals needed for an actual show won’t be needed for quite a long time.

What is most intriguing to me about this whole thing is the business model. It isn’t exactly following the standard studio system that has been basically unchanged over the years. It took some successful business men that aren’t rooted in the Hollywood system to develop something totally (what I think is) unique. The animation part of the company, at least what the average employee is exposed to won’t be much different than anywhere else in town. It is the behind the scenes differences that have me excited and would probably bore everyone else visiting this blog. It may translate into a more open and creative environment, it could provide more bang for the buck, it could do a lot of things. But realistically, until it gets going it is hard to know for sure and is all vapor.

There you go. A whole lot of nothing. Sorry! It all boils down to the possibility of another large animation studio in LA doing CG features very soon. Smart business people coming up with a tight plan, while still handing over the steering wheel to creatives. I usually don’t get jacked up about proposed studios, in fact, I’m normally pretty skeptical. Something is just different about this. I really hope they can pull it off. At the same time, I’m remaining realistic that it may go nowhere. If it does get traction, it will be a great opportunity for talented individuals to jump a few rungs on the ladder or simply provide a change of scenery.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info which I know was tough for you to put together since you have vowed not to reveal much.

Alot of us have questions ever since you first mentioned this new studio months ago.

(1) Who are the business people that are behind this endeavor that they are able to secure financing for budgets in the 100million+ range.

(2) Who are the creative folks that are involved.

(3) What are the projects that they will be doing.

(4) Which studio is going to distribute their films.

We would like to avoid another Mooncresent scenario.

Most of us are currently working for or have worked for the 5 major companies in town: Disney, DW, DD, R&H and Sony. Not one of them is perfect. They all have problems, politics, BS and disfunctionality. If you leave one company the grass is definitely not greener on the otherside.

With that being said I think its great that we have the opportunity for two new studios to open up in LA: Universal with Chris Meledandri heading up that effort and this secret studio that you have been talking about for months.

To get in on the ground floor in an entrepreneurial setting means that us vets can bring "best practices" from our experiences to grow these studios correctly before they get too big and screwed up like everyone else in town.

Keep us informed as more info become available for you to share.

Staloren said...

Hello Anonymous. You are asking questions I'd rather not answer. :( Unless you want more vague nothingness...

1 & 2, I'm avoiding these as it would identify who the group is.
3. unknown at this time. I guess it would depend on the directors brought in (I haven't heard of any chosen yet).
4. Rumor has it that a major studio has signed a preliminary distribution deal.

It is impossible to know if it will be another Mooncrescent. However, knowing some of the people involved and the backing they have... I doubt it.

The first issue is to just get this company started. I've been hearing that they will get started any week now for a very long time. If this ever turns into reality, information will be more readily available.

Yes, no company is perfect. I have no doubts that this one won't be perfect either. However, it is a chance to start with a clean slate and hopefully build a culture that is nice to work at minus the BS and politics(from what I hear, a priority for them. But, that is hard to avoid when a company grows).

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to write these questions expecting you to answer them cause I know you can't. I am just stating questions that folks have had ever since you first posted info several months ago.

Personally I don't expect another Mooncresent.

Obviously success will ultimately depend on the leadership that is starting this new studio and who they hire as their so-called digital leadership.

If you hire the right people who have been around the block that can bring "best practices" from other companies to the table then you should be able to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued current companies. The right seasoned people know what to do and what not to do.

Fingers crossed.

Staloren said...

my bad. I guess I took your response too literally. Back to my hole! :D

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure this "new studio" is any more exciting than the next up and coming feature animation churning machine.

Let's look at what the distributors are doing for a second.

Disney owns Pixar, plenty coming from that end. No need to discuss the details.

DreamWorks and PDI are ever busy with the neverending Shrek, and more upcoming features plotted out.

Sony's fresh off of the profitable Open Season, and more appears to be coming down the pipe.

The Weinstein Company is picking up steam after Hoodwinked and looking to do a second pic.

Universal is opening up shop and plans to get in, and plans to make an impact.

Fox is present, Blue Sky is continually hitting the mark.

Laika is churning away on 3 fresh features in Portland, and has been sucking up talent left and right.

Dallas based ReelFX might be the next DNA as their deal with William Joyce brings out fresh investors. Disney has their eye on them.

Paramount is distributing Beowulf, from Zemeckis, alongside Warner Bros.

Speaking of Zemeckis, his new studio is also sucking up talent left and right and will be ready to go full steam with Disney as his new partner.

Aardman just made a deal with Sony for future distribution. Expect more 2D and 3D hybrids from them.

Warner Bros is also distributing Spike Jonze new flick Where The Wild Things Are.

Weta has struck deals with Jackson, Zemeckis, Cameron, and Speilberg for numerous projects, one of which could be Tin Tin.

Another group with 100 million bucks wants to join in the action? We're dying to know who these brave souls are. As always, we enjoy a fresh start now and again, just to liven things up.

Anonymous said...

"Best Practices"!?

You're giving yourself away...

Anonymous said...

I know about this studio. At least I think I do based on some of your previous blog entries. After all, how many billion dollar studios are opening up in LA? Studio goes official next week (my prediction - not theirs).

Anonymous said...

Am I'm right in saying this is being financed by an irish businessman? One who is also planning to build a very large tower in chicago?

Anonymous said...

Donald Trump??

Staloren said...

No on the Irish guy.

Anonymous said...

Is this what you're speaking of?:

"Igor will get a wide theatrical release on October 24, 2008. Directed by animation scribe Tony Leondis (Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch) and penned by American Dad! writer Chris McKenna, the animated comedy tells the story of an evil scientist's hunch-backed lab assistant with big dreams of becoming a scientist himself and winning the annual Evil Science Fair. The voice cast includes Jeremy Piven, Jay Leno, John Cusack, Jennifer Coolidge, Arsenio Hall, Molly Shannon, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Sean Hayes and Christian Slater.

Eraklis and Exodus Productions' head Jean-Luc De Fanti will serve as producers on the films and series, with Exodus president Max Howard exec producing. Eric Robinson, VP of production and development, will oversee the creative aspects of the relationship on behalf of TWC. Headquartered in Los Angeles with European operations in Paris, Exodus will establish a New York office to facilitate the relationship.

Since the successful theatrical bow of Kanbar Ent.’s Hoodwinked, TWC has released the box office hit TMNT, and has taken on a number of independent CG-animated movies, including Escape From Planet Earth with Rainmaker Animation, Opus with Wild Brain Inc., Cricket In Times Square and Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil.

Staloren said...

No on that too. I'll say something if there is a public announcement.