Starz has opened a 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art animation studio in downtown Toronto that will produce CG animated feature films, TV programs, commercials and live-action visual effects.
Starz Animation Toronto will be one of the largest such facilities in Canada, employing 150 in 2007 and expected to add more personnel as projects begin production. Veteran animation executive David Steinberg has been appointed executive VP and general manager of the studio.
The facility opens with a major new project in the works: Focus Features’ animated theatrical release 9. The fantasy film tells the story of a band of rag dolls that fights for the survival of civilization in a post-apocalyptic parallel world. 9 is produced by Tim Burton, Timur Bekmambetov and Jim Lemley, and directed by Shane Acker, based on his Student Academy Award-winning animated short. The film will feature the voices of Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer and John C. Reilly.
“Starz Animation Toronto is a key piece of our strategy to be a full-service production and distribution company worldwide, and to be a major presence in the Canadian entertainment business,” said Starz chairman and CEO Robert B. Clasen.
“Toronto is an animation powerhouse,” said Steinberg. “We are tapping into a city incredibly rich in animation talent, fed by world-class universities of art and technology.”
Steinberg will be in charged of initiating proprietary feature animation projects as well as securing projects from third parties. Starz Animation Toronto has been built on the foundation laid by a venerable Toronto animation house – Dan Krech Productions. Since Starz acquired the company in late 2006, it has invested heavily to prepare the new studio to produce world-class projects.
Prior to joining Starz Animation Toronto, Steinberg worked as a producer and executive at Walt Disney Feature Animation, where he helped shepherd such films as Meet the Robinsons, Mulan, Hercules and Tarzan. Previously, he was executive producer on Turner Feature Animation’s Cats Don’t Dance and The Pagemaster, and spent a decade with animation legend Don Bluth, where he was instrumental in such films as The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail and The Land Before Time.
— Scott Lehane
Written by Scott Lehane