Locksmith Animation has tapped Simon Otto to direct their adaptation of children’s book series, “That Christmas,” written by acclaimed screenwriter and director Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral”).
Otto is a Visual Effects Society (VES) Award-winning Head of Character Animation, story artist, character designer and director. He is best known for the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy.
“That Christmas”, previously known as The Empty Stocking, will represent his animated feature film directorial debut. It also marks an animation debut for BAFTA Award-winning Curtis.
Written as a series of children’s books, the trilogy is comprised of “The Empty Stocking,” “Snow Day” and “That Christmas,” all set during the holiday season. The film, for which Curtis has also written the screenplay alongside Peter Souter, will combine the stories and set them in a quintessential English seaside town. It has been billed as “‘Love Actually’ for kids.”
“Simon Otto is one of the pre-eminent artists working in the feature film animation arena today,” said Locksmith Co-Founder Julie Lockhart. “His superb taste and his ability to endow animated characters and stories with heart, humor and pathos is in a class by itself. We are overjoyed that he will be making his feature directing debut on this Locksmith project.”
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“I’m beyond thrilled to be given the chance to direct this heart-warming holiday film alongside the immensely talented team at Locksmith Animation,” said Otto. “The opportunity to collaborate with the one and only Richard Curtis and bring his charming characters and stories to life through animation is a true gift.”
Otto spent 21 years at DreamWorks, where he worked on the Academy Award-winning “The Prince of Egypt”, Aardman co-production “Flushed Away” and the “How to Train Your Dragon” films, among others. He recently directed an episode of “Love, Death & Robots, Volume 2” for Netflix.
“I couldn’t be happier that Simon has opted to join the feature film directorial ranks with our film,” says Curtis. “He is such a superbly gifted visual storyteller and I can’t wait to see how he translates our characters and cluster of Christmas stories to the screen.”
Elisabeth Murdoch, Sarah Smith, Julie Lockhart and Bonnie Arnold will executive produce alongside Curtis, Colin Hopkins and the books’ illustrator Rebecca Cobb.
Locksmith are set to release their first feature film, “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” worldwide on Oct. 22. Disney is handling the release.