Netflix Shuffles Film Animation Executive Team After Animal Logic Acquisition

Karen Toliver will be promoted to lead the team while current lead Melissa Cobb will shift to become a producer

Karen Toliver Netflix Animation Film
Karen Toliver/Photo credit Monikka Stallworth-Blakes

Netflix is shuffling and simplifying the executive team on its animation film group in the wake of Netflix on Tuesday announcing the acquisition of Australian-based animation studio Animal Logic to help support Netflix’s original film slate.

Netflix has promoted Karen Toliver, currently VP of Animated Film, to lead the new film animation team on the content side and reporting to Global Film head Scott Stuber. Melissa Cobb, who previously led the team and has been with Netflix for the last four years, will now shift to becoming a creative producing partner with Netflix.

Gregg Taylor, also a VP of Animated Film who has been with Netflix for the last four years, will also shift to just become a producer. The move removes a layer from the executive team and aims to streamline the team.

Meanwhile, Bruce Daitch, VP of Animation Production Operations, will exit Netflix. He will remain on the transition team and help with the integration of Animal Logic for the next couple of months. Traci Balthazor, who is currently VP of Animation Film Production, and Mike Karafilis, director of Animation Series Production, will lead their respective teams, reporting to Amy Reinhard, VP of Studio Operations, and both Toliver and Balthazor will be partners.

The series animation teams will remain unchanged, with John Derderian remaining as VP of Animation Series.

“Over four years ago, Melissa joined the company to lead our animation team and since then has built the studio from the ground up. She’s attracted top filmmakers and delivered a diverse slate of award winning animated films,” Stuber said in a statement to TheWrap. “Gregg was vital to building our creative team and he helped oversee and shepherd our incredible film slate to date, including, most recently, ‘The Sea Beast.’ We are excited to have them both continue to be part of the Netflix family as creative producing partners.

He continued: “Our commitment is to build a world-class animation studio and Karen is a strong creative leader, with extensive experience to deliver our ambitious slate of animated films. She is beloved in the animation community and has had an immediate impact in her few short months at Netflix and I look forward to seeing her thrive in this elevated position.”

“Bruce has been the glue of animation production for the past two years, managing the production pipelines, toolsets, and infrastructures while also building two brand new Animation production studios during a pandemic; I’m so grateful for everything he’s done,” Reinhard said in a statement. “Traci has proven to be an incredible leader and collaborator, quickly adapting to the growing demands of the business scale and scope. With her experience, I am confident she will make a strong partner to Karen leading the animated film team.”

Netflix’s acquisition of Animal Logic is intended to support Netflix’s original animated film slate, which already includes titles like “Klaus,” “Over the Moon” and the upcoming “The Sea Beast.” The Animal Logic and Netflix Animation teams together will partner on producing Netflix’s largest animated film titles and bring much of that production in-house. Other upcoming titles include Henry Selick’s “Wendell & Wild,” Nora Twomey’s “My Father’s Dragon,” “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” Wendy Rogers’ The Magician’s Elephant” and an Aardman sequel to “Chicken Run.” 

Animal Logic is known for “Happy Feet,” “The Lego Movie” franchise and Netflix’s upcoming animated film “The Magician’s Elephant,” and they’re also working on “DC League of Super Pets” and have a VFX arm that has worked on “The Matrix,” the “Peter Rabbit” movies, “300” and “The Great Gatsby.”

Deadline first reported the news about the animation leadership team restructuring.