Skydance Media, formerly referred to as Skydance Productions, was first founded in April of 2006. Almost immediately, they entered into a five-year deal with Paramount Pictures to co-produce a wide array of live-action feature films, and it’s safe to say that they were able to make the most of that time.
Not only were they directly involved in the resurgence of the Tom Cruise-driven “Mission: Impossible” franchise (starting with the fourth film, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), but they also had their hand in an attempt to reboot “The Terminator,” the J.J. Abrams-produced “Star Trek” films, and critically acclaimed features like the recently released “Top Gun: Maverick.”
For years, Skydance enjoyed a tremendous period of success. However, the one thing that they didn’t have was an animation division — until 2017, that is.
In 2017, Skydance Animation was formed under the leadership of President Holly Edwards. They entered into a multi-year deal with Ilion Animation Studios, a company based out of Madrid. However, they had a hard time getting projects off the ground — at least at first. But then, in 2019, they hired a man who would quickly turn everything around.
A man by the name of John Lasseter.
If you had to make a list of some of the most innovative and influential talents in the history of animation, John Lasseter would undoubtedly be right at the top.
John Lasseter began his career at The Walt Disney Company before moving onto Lucasfilm — the company founded by George Lucas that was responsible for, among other things, the “Star Wars” movies. Lasseter worked in the computer animation division.
In the 1980s, Lucas ended up selling that division to Steve Jobs — a deal that would eventually see the founding of a company that has since become a household name, Pixar.
The early days of Pixar were difficult for Lasseter and his team, but they refused to give up. They knew the potential of CGI animation — they just needed to show the world what they so vividly believed in. Soon, they did, and Lasseter’s film “Toy Story” broke box office records and started a legitimate revolution in terms of computer animation.
The next several years were incredibly successful for John Lasseter and Pixar. They put out not only films like “Toy Story 2” and “Finding Nemo” but also “The Incredibles,” “Cars,” “Ratatouille” and others. Lasseter was even involved in the United States releases of several popular Japanese animated films, including ones like “Spirited Away” by esteemed director Hayao Miyazaki.
When John Lasseter came to Skydance Animation, he dedicated himself to doing for this organization what he had done for Pixar all those years earlier. He immediately got to work on not one but two films, both of which are due to be released in 2022. The first is called “Luck,” which will see a release in August on Apple’s AppleTV+ streaming platform. The protagonist is a young girl billed as “the unluckiest person in the world” who goes on an adventure with the help of several magical creatures.
The second is called “Spellbound” and, although not much is known about it, it too will be coming out by the end of 2022.
Other films that Skydance Animation has in the pipeline include “Pookoo” and “Ray Gunn.” Neither of them has release dates yet and not much is known about them other than their names. It seems that John Lasseter is continuing the fine tradition that he started at Pixar of keeping things quiet until they’re finally ready to be revealed to the world.
All of this is to say that, from the humble early stages of his career, John Lasseter was able to take his passion and use it to turn himself into a legend in the field. It’s safe to say that the landscape of computer animation — and animated feature films in general — would look a lot different had it not been for Lasseter, Pixar, and the release of “Toy Story” in 1995.
After leaving Pixar and coming to Skydance Animation, Lasseter was essentially starting from scratch. He didn’t have a lengthy body of work to rest on — remember that for a period if a movie had the “Pixar” logo on the front of it, you could essentially bet on it being a critical and commercial success.
Skydance Animation had no such track record. However, through sheer passion, talent, and force of will, Lasseter is poised to become a legend all over again.