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Disney Animation Launches Studio in Vancouver, Will Start Work With ‘Moana’ Musical Series

Marvel will also ramp up its production with more animated shows for Disney+

Walt Disney Animation Studios is ramping up its production and is opening a new studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. The studio space will be focused on long-form series work meant for Disney+, and the facility will kick off with work on a musical series based on their feature “Moana.”

The existing studio in Burbank will also expand its 900-employee team and will remain the home for Disney Animation feature film projects and shorter form series, such as “Baymax” and “Zootopia+.” Story development, storyboarding and production design for all projects will be based in Burbank.

The studio is targeting an opening date for January 2022 and is recruiting for roles imminently.

The “Moana” musical series is targeting a release date for 2024 on Disney+, and the series will be produced by Osnat Shurer.

The news was announced Wednesday by WDAS president Clark Spencer, a producer on “Zootopia” and the upcoming “Encanto,” and it comes as Disney has been ramping up its slate of proejcts for Disney+. What’s more, sources say that as Marvel Studios also expands into animation with series like “What If…?” debuting next week, they too will be ramping up their internal animation capabilities.

Marvel is said to be hiring around 300 positions based in California covering a variety of production roles with the intention of creating a slate of animated shows for Disney+, something that Marvel Studios’ EVP of production Victoria Alonso recently alluded to in an interview with Variety.

“Disney Animation is creating more original storytelling for Disney+, expanding into series for the first time in our history with ‘Iwájú,’ ‘Tiana,’ ‘Moana,’ ‘Baymax’ and ‘Zootopia+,’ Jennifer Lee, chief creative officer at WDAS, said. “As we continue to grow our original slate of projects, there are more creative, artistic and technological opportunities than at any previous time.” 

“With Burbank and Vancouver both home to some of the world’s most talented artists and technicians, we believe the storytelling and visual quality created within each location will meet the incredibly high standards we set for ourselves and audiences have come to expect from Disney Animation,” Spencer said. 

Amir Nasrabadi will serve as head of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Vancouver. Nasrabadi most recently served as EVP/general manager at WildBrain Studios. Nasrabadi’s previous roles include overseeing Pixar Canada as VP/general manager as well as senior leadership roles with Illumination and Paramount Animation. His role with Walt Disney Animation Studios marks a return to the studio, where he served as a finance lead.

“I am so honored and excited to be joining the Disney family again,” Nasrabadi said.  “I can’t wait to dive in and collaborate with the talented teams at Disney Animation on a new slate of projects for Disney+ starting with ‘Moana.’ I continue to be amazed at the high-level of artistry and technical advancements coming out of the animation industry here in Vancouver and I am so proud to be a part of this community. This is really a dream come true for me.”