A group of Canadian investors led by media and marketing exec J. Thomas Murray and exec producer Steven B. Hecht have bought a majority stake in Starz Animation Toronto.
Liberty Media’s Starz retained an equity stake in the CG animation and vfx firm. It will also continue to “support the studio in numerous ways,” according to a statement from the company. No other details of the deal were disclosed.
The new owners plan to support the studio’s current productions and business development, including series “Camelot,” live-action family feature “Robosapien: Rebooted” and the Alcon Films/Warner Bros. fall release “Dolphin Tale” starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
“Canadian control provides Starz Animation with two significant benefits,” Hecht said in a statement. “First … it will be more cost-competitive by taking full advantage of the significant grants, labor tax credits and subsidy opportunities available in Canada. Second, it will allow the studio to expand into development and production, on an ownership basis, of intellectual property, independently and/or together with international co-production partners.”
Generous tax incentives have made Toronto a hub for the animation and VFX community. In 2009, the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade announced a grant of nearly $23 to encourage Starz productions in order to create and retain several hundred jobs.
Investor group is a Canadian holding company made up of execs from broadcasting, media production, strategic media marketing and global capital markets backgrounds.
Last year, Starz built a full stereoscopic 3D unit to produce “Gnomeo and Juliet” for Disney.