Fortitude adds Indian partner

Fortitude Entertainment Group has joined with India-based animation company Maya Entertainment to form Fortitude Maya. The venture is designed to stockpile cost-efficient computer animators for features and television projects.

Founded by Steve Delaportas and Lisa Marie Butkiewicz, Fortitude is best known for making a seven-figure rights deal for the G.P. Taylor fantasy novel “Shadowmancer,” which it subsequently set up at Universal. “The Iron Giant” scribe Tim McCanlies is adapting.

The company has production, animation and visual effects facilities in Burbank, recording studios in Phoenix and merchandising offices in New York.

Maya Entertainment, which is underwritten by Intel, is based in Mumbai and was formed in 1996 by producer-director Ketan Mehta. The company owns 40 schools for animators, and Fortitude sees it as a seed bed for cost-efficient CG artists.

Fortitude will have immediate access to 150 animators, which puts its manpower at about 300 in computer animation, pre-production and digital visual effects in the U.S. and India. Delaportas said that animators and supervisors will rotate between countries to create a cohesive unit.

Those resources will be put to work on “Noah’s Aardvark,” an animated feature that has been in development for the last six months with a script by Michael Mauer. Fortitude will finance that film’s $40 million budget. It is also engaged in a block of daytime program projects geared to the pre-school set and is developing other features, Delaportas said.

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