Warner Bros. Pictures has started a new feature animation venture with the goal of releasing one animated film a year starting in 2014.
The Burbank-based studio has signed on a number of filmmakers to take part in the venture, including the directing/writing team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) and Nicholas Stoller, writer and executive producer of the 2011 film “The Muppets.”
Warner Bros. has a long tradition and history in animation, dating back to the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated shorts. Feature length films either produced or distributed by the studio have proven to be more hit or miss over the past 30 years as compared to the success of Pixar, The Walt Disney Co., or Paramount Studios.
“Looking to the future, we have now gathered some of the best and brightest talents in the industry to help us grow and broaden that legacy,” Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov said in a prepared statement.
The most notable Warner Bros. distributed animated feature in recent years was “Happy Feet” in 2006 and its sequel in 2011. Combined the films have brought in worldwide theatrical grosses of $535 million, according to theater revenue tracking site Box Office Mojo.
For the first film to come out of what Warner Bros. is calling an animated “think tank” the studio will turn to the Lord and Miller-directed “The LEGO Movie.” The release date is set for February 2014.
“Storks,” conceived and written by Stoller, and “Smallfoot,”directed by Sergio Pablos (“Despicable Me”) are set for release in 2015 and 2016 respectively.