Disney backs out of Fox’s deal with British studio Locksmith Animation

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A multi-picture deal between new British animation studio Locksmith is a near-instant casualty of the Disney/Fox deal.

The fallout from Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox continues, and this time it’s had a major effect on new British animation house, Locksmith Animation.

Locksmith has been founded by Sarah Smith and Julie Lockhart (both Aardman alumni). It opened its doors in 2014, and it’s a high-end computer animation studio – arguably the only one of its kind in the UK – committed to making family movies.

And it’s been busy making its first. In September 2017, it inked an extensive production deal with 20th Century Fox, with the plan being to release a new film every 12 to 18 months. Those films are being developed and made in the UK, with effects house Double Negative providing the CG animation work.

The first fruits of the deal, the film Ron’s Gone Wrong, is deep into production and due for release in November 2020. Disney is set to honour the deal to distribute that film.

Yet in the midst of a Variety article about the many Fox projects that have now been abandoned Disney comes the news that not only is the Locksmith distribution deal no more, but that three further projects that it had in developed “have been given back to their creators”.

This puts Locksmith back in the market for a distribution partner, at a point where it’s dedicated resources and investment to British animation. It had come close to a deal with Paramount before it inked its Fox deal. I can but hope that a new distribution partner can be sought, whilst Disney concentrates instead on rebooting the likes of Home Alone and Cheaper By The Dozen.

The full Variety article can be found here, although be warned it makes for quite miserable reading…

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