Lab giant leaps into original animation biz

After nearly a century providing services for other people’s content, Technicolor is getting into the content business itself.

The lab giant has announced plans to develop and produce original broadcast animation and has hired animation vets Jean MacCurdy and Fonda Snyder. Pair will work with company’s VP of digital productions, Steven Wendland, to lead development and production.

Company also announced its first acquisition: “Pete and Pickles,” a children’s book by Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist Berkeley Breathed, best known for his 1980s comic strip “Bloom County.”

“Pete and Pickles” is slated to become a half-hour toon skein with Paprikas (Technicolor’s Bangalore, India, animation studio) doing the CG animation.

Story is about the unlikely friendship between a pig and an escaped circus elephant. Project is in development and has not been sold to a network. No start date has been set. “We’re building the bible and going to be doing some test animation, what essentially passes as a trailer,” Breathed told Daily Variety.

Technicolor’s president of digital productions Tim Sarnoff called the move into original content “a natural extension of Technicolor’s desire to be a partner with creatives.”

MacCurdy, a longtime animation producer, said she will have the title “consultant” and will help “locate talent, new ideas, fresh concepts and help take that to potential buyers.”

There have been several attempts to translate Breathed’s work to the bigscreen, but all have been stuck in development except “Mars Needs Moms” — now in production for Disney at ImageMovers Digital and the final project before the facility shuts.

Breathed wrote “Pete and Pickles” hoping for a fully rounded 3D CGI production of the story for children’s TV — at some distant date. That day came sooner, he said, because Technicolor’s enthusiasm bowled him over.

“They had an absolutely spectacular attitude about establishing themselves in a separate way from everybody else and wanting to establish a look and feel that was unique. And boy as an artist that’s what you want to hear.”

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