Recent months have seen a wave of departures from Disney and Pixar, and many top film names have found a new home at John Lasseter’s Skydance Animation. Some of the most significant hires and contractors include the directors Rich Moore and Brad Bird and the composer Alan Menken, who are now working alongside John Lasseter on animated films that will hit the screen later this year.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest Disney names who are now enjoying roles at Skydance Animation.
Filmmaker Rich Moore has joined Skydance Animation after a brief stint at Sony Pictures Animation and a 10-year career at Walt Disney Animation, where he served as part of the Disney Story Trust and advised on titles like Frozen, Moana, and Tangled. He also worked on Big Hero 6. Rich Moore is perhaps best known for his animation work on Zootopia, which won him an Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2017. He was also nominated for Wreck-It Ralph and its sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Before working for Disney, Rich Moore was one of the three directors of Fox’s popular series The Simpsons. He won his first Primetime Emmy Award for directing the episode “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment”. He also worked on Futurama and won an Emmy for the “Roswell That Ends Well” episode.
Other programs and films that he worked on include Meet Arnold; Shakira’s “Try Everything” music video; Garlan Hulse: Where Potential Lives; Sit Down, Shut Up; The Affliction; Horton Hears a Who; Drawn Together; 100 Greatest Cartoons; Duck Dodgers in Attack of the Drones; Baby Blues; The Critic; Sesame Street: Monster in the Mirror;Hound Town; Christmas in Tattertown; Beanie and Cecil; Technological Threat; Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures;and Amazing Stories.
Now, Rich Moore has entered into an exclusive, multi-year deal with Skydance Animation, where he will create, develop, and produce original animated features. Here, he will reunite with Walt Disney Animation Studios’ former chief creative officer John Lasseter, who collaborated with Rich Moore on several Disney films.
With this move underway, fans have much to look forward to: The first film that Rich Moore will work on is Luck, an animated feature that tells the story of Sam, the unluckiest person in the world, and the luck she finds when she meets a cast of magical creatures. Luck, which stars Simon Pegg, Eva Noblezada, and Jane Fonda, will premiere on Aug. 5, 2022, on Apple TV+. The director, Peggy Holmes, has worked with John Lasseter before and was the director of Disney films like Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, and The Pirate Fairy.
Rich Moore will also work on a feature called Spellbound, which tells the story of a young girl who must break the spell that has split her kingdom in two. The West Side Story lead Rachel Zegler will voice Princess Ellian as she tries to save her kingdom and reverse the spell that has turned her parents into monsters. Vicky Jenson (Shrek, Shark Tale) will direct this feature, and Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast) will compose the music.
Skydance Animation has also signed a multi-year licensing deal with the children’s entertainment company Spin Master, which will be the studio’s master toy licensee. Spin Master will create Spellbound toys, such as fashion dolls, mini-dolls, and vehicles.
Skydance Animation’s hire of Rich Moore comes in the wake of its announcement that it will produce Brad Bird’s upcoming Ray Gunn. This film is a long-held passion project for the acclaimed filmmaker, who wrote and directed The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2, and Ratatouille for Pixar under John Lasseter’s careful guidance. While both The Incredibles and Ratatouille earned him an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Screenplay nominations, The Incredibles 2 became the second-highest-grossing animated picture of all time. Brad Bird also voices Edna Mode in The Incredibles and Ambrister Minion in Ratatouille.
Brad Bird will direct Ray Gunn from a script he wrote with Matthew Robbins, the writer of Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak and the stop-motion Pinocchio film. Brad Bird originally developed Ray Gunn as a hand-drawn feature at Turner Animation in the mid-1990s, when the project was considered too ahead of its time. The intelligent, dark genre didn’t fit in with films like Balto and The Pebble and the Penguin. Having set the project aside for many years, the time has now come for Brad Bird to produce the animated film with John Lasseter. Film lovers of all ages are looking forward to this new release.
Brad Bird has served as a director, screenwriter, producer, animator, and voice actor over his 40-year career, which has seen him excel in both animated and live-action films. Aside from the titles listed above, he is best known for his films The Iron Giant and Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. He also wrote the screenplay for Batteries Not Included, developed two episodes of Amazing Stories (including “Family Dog”) for Steven Spielberg, worked on The Simpsons as a creative consultant for eight seasons, and directed Tomorrowland.
The composer, songwriter, conductor, music director, and record producer Alan Menken is the brain behind some of television’s most popular scores. He has won two Academy Awards for each of his scores for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Pocahontas. Other accolades include eleven Grammy Awards, eight Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, a Tony Award, and a Daytime Emmy Award. He is one of only 16 people who have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony (an “EGOT”).
Alan Menken has also written popular scores and songs for films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Enchanted, Tangled, Little Shop of Horrors, Home on the Range, and Newsies. Now, he is set to pen the musical score for Skydance Animation’s upcoming musical fantasy Spellbound. The lyricist Glenn Slater (Tangled) and music producer Chris Montan (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen) will join him in crafting these original songs. Meanwhile, John Lasseter, Dana Goldberg, David Ellison, and David Lipman will serve as producers.
As an animator, director, producer, and writer, John Lasseteris widely celebrated in the film industry. His love for animation dates back to his childhood, when he drew comics for the church he attended with his mother, who was an art teacher. His mother encouraged his interest in animation, and he went on to pursue his talent at the California Institute of Arts.
Once he had graduated, John Lasseter secured a role as a Disney animator. Some of the early films that he worked on include The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron. When he moved to Lucasfilm (now Pixar) to work on computer graphics imagery (CGI) projects, he wrote Toy Story, the first full-length feature film made with computer animation, which brought about much success for the company.
He became a pioneer of CGI and is widely credited for the success of Pixar. He then became the chief creative officer at Pixar and various Disney studios and worked on some of the world’s highest-grossing animated films, such as Frozen, Brave, Inside Out, WALL-E, Up, Cars, Finding Nemo, and A Bug’s Life.
In 2019, Skydance Animation hired John Lasseter as its head of animation, where he continues to bring stories to the screen for audiences all over the world.
About Skydance Animation
Skydance Animation’s creative artists tell vivid, original stories through modern, animated films. In 2020, Skydance Media acquired Ilion Studios, which it had previously partnered with. With this acquisition underway, Skydance Media launched Skydance Animation Madrid, which complements Skydance’s animation division in Los Angeles. John Lasseter heads both workforces, which total approximately 500.
Several noteworthy names from the world of film have joined Skydance Animation over recent years, and the company is welcoming many more. For example, on top of the above, the Tangled director Nathan Greno has also moved over to Skydance, where he is working on a new animated film called Pookoo.