The UK’s Locksmith Animation has entered a multi-year production partnership with 20th Century Fox that will see the animators release an an animated feature via Fox every year to 18 months going forward.
Fox had been distributing the films of Dreamworks Animation in recent years, but with their deal due to come to a close once Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie has run its course, the studio mega-power needed a replacement to fulfil head of studio Stacey Snider’s request to “not miss a season when it comes to animated films”. Locksmith will join Blue Sky Studios (producers of the Ice Age franchise among others) in fulfilling this aim for the studio.
Locksmith, run by founders and co-CEOs Julie Lockhart and Sarah Smith, are reportedly readying three separate projects already, and their first film under the partnership will be released in 2020.
Smith and Lockhart released the following statement regarding the new partnership:
“We are thrilled by the response of both Stacey and the Fox team to Locksmith’s vision, talent and IP. [Fox] has a first-class track record in marketing and distributing animation, and their shared appreciation of our stories make this a truly exciting partnership. Embarking on production of our first film, with more titles in the pipeline, is a great moment for Locksmith.”
Fox studio head Stacey Snider also released a statement:
“Julie and Sarah are each singular talents, and together with their vast experience and belief in the preeminence of the storyteller, they are building a world class animation studio that is attracting top tier talent to an ambitious slate of projects.”
The relationship between Fox and Locksmith is a long-standing one, with the daughter of Fox owner Rupert Murdoch, Elisabeth Murdoch, being a key figure in getting the production house off the ground in 2014, though the London-based company was tapped to be a part of Paramount as late as early 2017, only for a change in management to put an end to those plans.
While there has been no official word regarding the titles of new projects from the partnership, Locksmith CEO Sarah Smith has confirmed that their plans are to develop entirely original films under the Fox banner.