John Lasseter and the Rise of Skydance Animation

Although it is a relatively new addition to the digital animation industry, Skydance Animation has become one of the top animation studios in the world. Skydance has also delivered some outstanding non-animated movies, such as True Grit, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Top Gun: Maverick, and Jack Reacher. One of the key figures in the success and growth of Skydance Animation is former Pixar and Walt Disney CCO and animation guru John Lasseter

The Launch of Skydance Media 

The creator of Skydance Production is David Ellison, who is also a pilot—it was his passion for aviation that sparked the idea to launch his own production house in 2006. “Skydancing” alludes to the elaborate flying stunts performed by competent pilots. David Ellison envisioned limitless possibilities in flying and filming, and he eventually chose that name for his company. The original name of the company was Skydance Production, which was later changed to Skydance Media. 

Despite co-producing dozens of movies with major studios such as Paramount, Ellison decided to launch his own production studios. One of the major successes to date now is True Grit. The film made history just after its release. It has won a lot of awards, including ten Oscars. Starting with the success of True Grit, Skydance Production initiated several projects and decided to grow the team. One of the initiatives was to launch an animation studio, which led to the arrival of the legendary John Lasseter at Skydance

The Formation of Skydance Animation 

Launched in March 2017, Skydance Animation is a relatively new division of Skydance. The animation firm was founded following an initial collaboration with Skydance Animation Madrid, which was previously known as Ilion Animation Studios. Skydance Animation officially bought Ilion Animation and merged it. The company wanted an experienced and inspirational individual to lead the company. They found the ideal match in Academy Award–winner John Lasseter. In 2019, Skydance appointed Disney and Pixar legend John Lasseter as their new leader of the animation division in California. David Ellison commented on the signing of John Lasseter, saying, “John Lasseter is a one-of-a-kind intellectual and visionary whose contribution to the animation world cannot be overstated.” 

John Lasseter’s Role Behind Skydance Animation’s Success 

John Lasseter currently serves as the Head of Animation at Skydance Animation. His role is to oversee the company’s animation business, including the administration, development, and planning of all animation projects. He has already worked on two major animated movies, Spellbound and Luck. The company has a total of four animated projects in the pipeline, including Spellbound, Luck, Pookoo, and Ray Gunn. John Lasseter is also working on multiple streaming and toy partnerships.

Additionally, Skydance Animation released a short film named Blush for Apple TV+ directed by Joe Mateo in 2021. The short received an outstanding response from the audience and critics. John Lasseter is now focused on Luck and Spellbound, which will further enhance Skydance Animation’s popularity. Apple TV+ obtained the rights to both, and the agreement includes the continuation of the animated TV series, The Search For WondLa, for the next two seasons, which is another major boost for Skydance Animation. 

Lasseter has brought his experience from working at Pixar and Disney animation to Skydance Animation. He has also been instrumental in getting several former Pixar and Disney legends—such as Brad Bird, Alan Menken, and Rich Moore—to join Skydance Animation. Rich Moore and Brad Bird will collaborate on Ray Gunn, Bird’s creative animated short. 

Brad Bird worked with John Lasseter on Ratatouille and The Incredibles at Disney. Rich Moore—writer, filmmaker, and former CCO of Walt Disney, best known for Zootopia, Frozen, and Tangled—is also teamed up with John Lasseter. He has signed a long-term arrangement with Skydance Animation, including a deal to direct Ray Gunn. Additionally, Alan Menken is also joining Skydance Animation to give his incredible music skills to Spellbound. He has been honored with Academy Awards for his work on Pocahontas, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast

A fresh set of toy licenses adds to the excitement around Skydance Animation. PMI Limited and Spin Master recently collaborated with Skydance Animation to create Spellbound toys. Spin Master is creating toys and vehicles based on characters from the film, while PMI Limited is entrusted with manufacturing stationery, plush toys, games, and keychains for Spellbound. With the upcoming projects, partnerships, collaborations, and new team members, John Lasseter has provided Skydance with direction to become the best in the industry. 

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