Warner Animation Group, the Warner Bros. animation unit responsible for feature-length animation, is getting some new leadership. Bill Damaschke, an animation veteran who started his career as a production assistant on Disney’s “Pocahontas” and eventually became COO of DreamWorks Animation, is in final negotiations to become head of Warner Animation Group, TheWrap has confirmed.
Executive VP Allison Abbate was the last person to lead the unit; she departed in summer 2022 after the merger with Discovery. The fallout of the new leadership included the cancellation of the mostly finished “Scoob: Haunted Holiday,” a follow-up to the 2020 animated feature “Scoob,” as a cost-cutting measure (done at the same time as the shelving of “Batgirl”).
At Warner Bros. Discovery, Damaschke will report to Warner Bros Film Group co-chairpersons and CEOs Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy. It hasn’t been announced what Damaschke’s title will be.
Damaschke worked his way through the ranks at DreamWorks Animation, beginning with the studio’s first animated feature, the would-be Disney challenger “The Prince of Egypt.” By 1999 he was head of creative production and had an executive producer credit on 2000’s “The Road to El Dorado.” In 2005 he became head of creative production and development and oversaw the development of franchises like “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon” and by 2011 he was COO. In 2015, in the days before DreamWorks Animation’s sale to Universal, he stepped down from DreamWorks Animation. In 2017 he was briefly installed at Skydance Animation as president of Animation and Family Entertainment. Since leaving Skydance he has produced several hit plays, including “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” and “The Prom.”
Warner Animation Group is a relatively young unit; their first movie was 2014’s “The Lego Movie.” Since then they have released several more Lego-branded movies (before letting the license lapse), as well as projects like “Storks” and “Smallfoot.” They also produced franchise plays like “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “DC League of Super-pets.”
While Warner Bros. built its reputation on its cutting-edge animated hits (there’s a reason Bugs Bunny is hanging out in the Warner Bros. 100 logo), it outsources its feature animation to studios like Animal Logic, Industrial Light & Magic and Sony Pictures Imageworks.
There are several Warner Animation Group projects in development, including “Mummies” (slated for release later this year), the long-in-development “Acme vs. Coyote” (based on the New York story) and “Toto,” a “Wizard of Oz” story from the plucky dog’s perspective.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.