Annapurna Animation is kicking into overdrive, with director Nick Bruno (Netflix’s “Nimona” and 20th Century Studio’s “Spies in Disguise”) and producer Julie Zackary joining up.
They are also planning to expand their feature development slate, with the first flick being an adaptation of the acclaimed “play as a cat” video game “Stray.” Also on tap is a new film from Chris Wedge (“Ice Age”), an original called “FOO.” Along with directing an untitled original in development, Bruno is actively developing original ideas for Annapurna Animation.
“Stray,” an open-world adventure where you play as an ordinary cat, earned strong reviews and 2.5 million copies sold in the first month prior to even launching on Steam. The game came from Annapurna Interactive, so the synergy speaks for itself, and Annapurna plans to adapt more titles from its game library.
Wedge is an Academy Award-winning director and producer as well as a co-founder of Blue Sky Animation Studios. His short film “Bunny” won the Best Animated Short Film Oscar in 1999. The first “Ice Age” was nominated for Best Animated Feature in 2003. The “Ice Age” series went on to earn $3.2 billion worldwide over five theatrical features on a combined $430 million budget.
When “Dawn of the Dinosaurs” earned $690 million overseas in the summer of 2009, it was, briefly, the third-biggest overseas grosser ever behind “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” While they commercially peaked with the “Ice Age” series the two “Rio” films did earn $984 million worldwide in 2011 and 2014.
Former Blue Sky Studios executive Julie Zackary is joining Annapurna Animation as the Head of Animation Production. Zackary will oversee all aspects of production throughout Annapurna Animation’s division. Zackary served as VP of Production Management at Sony Pictures Imageworks before joining Blue Sky Studios as Vice President of Production.
Erica Pulcini is also joining as a Creative Executive. In Pulcini’s role as Creative Executive, she will help curate, develop and further define Annapurna Animation’s feature film slate.
In December 2022, Annapurna announced the launch of its Animation division being led by former Disney Animation Executives Robert Baird and Andrew Millstein. Annapurna Animation’s debut project, “Nimona” didn’t survive the “Disney buying Fox” transition. The previously Blue Sky project got picked up as Annapurna Animation’s debut project and eventually premiered to strong notices on Netflix this past June.