Netflix is acquiring Australian animation studio Animal Logic, which is producing films for the streamer including “The Magician’s Elephant,” directed by Wendy Rogers, and “The Shrinking of the Treehorns,” directed by Ron Howard.
Animal Logic has about 800 employees, mostly based in Sydney and Vancouver. The acquisition “will help us accelerate the development of our animation production capabilities and reinforce our commitment to build a world-class animation studio,” Netflix said in its Q2 letter to shareholders.
The company did not disclose the purchase price for Animal Logic but said it will fund the acquisition from cash on hand. Netflix expects to close later this year, subject to certain regulatory approvals.
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“Together, we’ll create an animation studio that will produce some of our largest animated feature films,” Netflix said in the shareholder letter.
Founded in 1991, Animal Logic’s film work has included The Lego movies, the two “Peter Rabbit” films, “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” and “Happy Feet.” The studio also has produced visual effects for movies including “The Matrix,” “Moulin Rouge!”, “300” and “The Great Gatsby” and “Captain Marvel.”
Its move to acquire Animal Logic comes after Netflix killed several animated projects in May, including “Wings of Fire” from executive producer Ava DuVernay; “Antiracist Baby,” a series aimed at preschoolers; and “With Kind Regards From Kindergarten.”
Still, Netflix touted its “ambitious” animated film slate, including the Oscar-nominated “Over the Moon” and “Klaus” and recently released “The Sea Beast” from Disney veteran Chris Williams.
Netflix said Animal Logic, led by CEO and co-founder Zareh Nalbandian, will continue operating under the Animal Logic brand and will “fulfill production of existing and ongoing commitments and continue to collaborate and work with longstanding studio partners.”
“Netflix has been investing in animation over the past few years and this furthers our commitment to building a world-class animation studio,” Amy Reinhard, Netflix VP of studio operations, said in a statement. “Animal Logic is a leading animation studio with innovative technology that will strengthen our existing business and increase our long-term capacity in the animation space, so that we can better entertain our members around the world.”
Nalbandian said in a statement provided by Netflix, “After 30 years of producing great work with great people, this is the perfect next chapter for Animal Logic. Our values and aspirations could not be more aligned with Netflix, in working with diverse content makers, producing innovative and engaging stories for audiences around the world. Our collective experience and talent will open new doors for all our teams and will empower a new level of creativity in animation.”
In May, Netflix signed a multiyear deal renewal with VFX and animation company DNEG, under which the streamer expects to spend at least $350 million with the company through 2025.
Separately Tuesday, Netflix disclosed a $70 million charge related to layoffs in the second quarter. The company reported a net loss of 970,000 subs, about 1 million fewer than originally forecast.
“The Magician’s Elephant” is based on two-time Newbery Award winning author Kate DiCamillo’s classic novel. When Peter (voiced by Noah Jupe), who is searching for his long-lost sister named Adele (voiced by Pixie Davies), crosses paths with a fortune teller in the market square, there is only one question on his mind: is his sister still alive? The answer — that he must find a mysterious elephant and the magician (voiced by Benedict Wong) who will conjure it — sets Peter off on a harrowing journey to complete three seemingly impossible tasks that will change the face of his town forever.
In May, Netflix announced the pickup of “The Shrinking of the Treehorn,” an animated musical film set in New York City during the holidays, directed by Howard and written by Rob Lieber. The film, produced by Animal Logic and Imagine Entertainment, is based on the children’s book by Florence Parry Heide with illustrations from Edward Gorey, originally published in 1971. Previously, Paramount Pictures had been on board as the distributor.
Pictured above: “The Magician’s Elephant” from Animal Logic