EXCLUSIVE: After announcing its acquisition of Australian animation studio Animal Logic during yesterday’s earnings call, Deadline has learned that Netflix is making internal moves that will streamline its coterie of executives who will lead the Film Animation division.
Karen Toliver, vice president of animated film, is promoted to head of the animated film team. With this change, Melissa Cobb will leave her role as Vice President of Animated Film but will remain with Netflix as a producer. Cobb joined the company four years ago and led the animation team. Since then, he’s built the studio from the ground up, attracting filmmakers and delivering a diverse lineup of ani films so far.
Also in transition is Gregg Taylor, the vice president of animated film, who will also become a producer. He, too, has been there for four years, helping build the creative team and overseeing and directing the film slates, most recently The Beast from the Sea.
Bruce Daitch, who served as vice president of animation production operations, will be leaving the studio, but will first work to help the team’s transition and the Animal Logic integration that should occupy him for the next few months. .
Animation for the series remains unchanged, with John Derderian remaining as vice president of the animation series team.
Traci Balthazor (VP Animation Film Production) and Mike Karafilis (Director Animation Series Production) will lead their respective teams.
The moves are designed to expand Netflix’s global animation footprint with Animal Logic a catalyst for that effort. Among the films Netflix has generated so far are Oscar nominees Robin, Robin, Klaus and above the moonby Kris Pearn The Willoughbysdirected by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps Back to the Outbackdirected by Richard Linklater Apollo 10 ½: a childhood in the space ageand the film recently directed by Chris Williams The beast from the sea. Coming up are Henry Selick Wendell and savageby Nora Twomey My Father’s Dragonby Guillermo del Toro PinocchioWendy Roger’s The magician’s elephantand an Aardman sequel to Chicken coop. Netflix’s Recent Animated Film Acquisitions Include The Oscar Nominee The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Vivo!, international on Spongebob: The Spongeand Wish Dragon.
Netflix has confirmed the strategic reshuffle.
Said Scott Stuber, Head of Global Film, “Melissa joined the company over four years ago to lead our animation team and since then has been building the studio from the ground up. It has attracted top filmmakers and delivered a diverse lineup of award-winning animated films. Gregg has been instrumental in building our creative team and he has helped oversee and direct our incredible slate of films to date, including, most recently, The Sea Beast. We’re thrilled that they’ll both continue to be part of the Netflix family as creative producing partners.
“Our commitment is to build a world-class animation studio and Karen is a strong creative leader, with extensive experience to deliver our ambitious lineup of animated films,” said Stuber. “She is loved in the animation community and made an immediate impact during her few months at Netflix and I can’t wait to see her thrive in this lofty position.”
Amy Reinhard, Vice President of Studio Operations, said, “Bruce has been the glue of animation production for the past two years, managing production pipelines, tools and infrastructure while also building two while new animation production studios during a pandemic; I am so thankful for everything he has done.
On Balthazor, she said, “Traci has proven to be an incredible leader and collaborator, quickly adapting to the growing demands of scale and scope of the business. With her experience, I’m sure she will be a strong partner for Karen leading the animated film team.