EXCLUSIVE: After announcing its acquisition of Australian animation studio Animal Logic during yesterday’s earnings conference call, Deadline has learned that Netflix is taking internal steps to streamline its clique of executives who will lead the motion picture animation division.
Karen Toliver, VP Animation Film, is promoted to lead the animation film team. With this change, Melissa Cobb will step down from her role as VP Animation Films but will remain with Netflix as a producer. Cobb joined the company four years ago to lead the animation team and has since built the studio from the ground up, attracting filmmakers and delivering a diverse range of Ani films to date.
Gregg Taylor, the VP Animation Films, who will also become a producer, is also making a change. He too has been there for four years, helping to set up the creative team and most recently overseeing and supervising the film boards The Sea Creature.
Bruce Daitch, previously VP Animation Production Operations, will be leaving the studio but will first work on supporting the team transition and Animal Logic integration, which is expected to keep him busy for the next few months.
The series animation remains unchanged, with John Derderian remaining as the VP Animation Series team.
Traci Balthazor (VP Animation Film Production) and Mike Karafilis (Director Animation Series Production) will lead their respective teams.
The moves are intended to expand Netflix’s global animation footprint, with Animal Logic being a catalyst for that effort. Among the movies Netflix has generated so far are Oscar nominees Robin, Robin, Klaus and About the moonChris Pearns The Willoughbyswhich were directed by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps Back to the hinterlanddirected by Richard Linklater Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhoodand the recently released Chris Williams-directed The Sea Creature. Coming up are Henry Selicks Wendel & WildNora Twomeys My father’s dragonGuillermo del Toros PinocchioWendy Rogers’ The Magician’s Elephantand a sequel by Aardman chicken race. Recent animated film acquisitions by Netflix include the Oscar-nominated The Mitchells against the machines, Vivo! internationally SpongeBob: Spongeand desire dragons.
Netflix confirmed the strategic reorganization.
Scott Stuber, Head of Global Film, said, “More than four years ago, Melissa joined the company to lead our animation team and has since built the studio from the ground up. She has attracted top filmmakers and delivered a diverse range of award-winning animated films. Gregg was instrumental in building our creative team, and he helped oversee and guard our incredible roster of films to date, most recently The Sea Beast. We are delighted that both continue to be part of the Netflix family as creative production partners.
“Our goal is to build a world-class animation studio, and Karen is a strong creative leader with the extensive experience to deliver our ambitious line of animated films,” said Stuber. “She is well-loved in the animation community and has had an immediate impact in her short few months at Netflix, and I look forward to seeing her succeed in this senior role.”
Amy Reinhard, VP Studio Operations, said: “Bruce has been the glue of animation production for the past two years, managing the production pipelines, toolsets and infrastructure and building two brand new animation production studios during a pandemic. I’m so thankful for everything he’s done.”
Speaking of Balthazor, she said, “Traci has proven to be an incredible leader and collaborator who adapts quickly to the growing demands of company size and scope. I am confident that with her experience she will be a strong partner for Karen leading the animation team.”