Cartoon Saloon, Mercury Filmworks Partner for New Animation Studio

The Ireland-based 2D animation joint venture is expected to create 140 jobs in the next three years.
Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival
'Song of the Sea'

Kilkenny, Ireland-based animation studio Cartoon Saloon — the studio behind Oscar-nominated animated features The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea — and Canada-based animation studio Mercury Filmworks are partnering to create a new 2D-focused, Kilkenny-based animation studio to develop children’s and family TV entertainment, for multiplatform global distribution.

Dubbed Lighthouse Studios, the joint venture will have its own not-yet-announced management team, reporting to a board of directors comprising executives from both Mercury Filmworks and Cartoon Saloon.

It plans to announce more information about its first development and production projects, as well as hiring details, in the coming weeks. The venture was revealed on Monday with support from Ireland’s Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland and intends to create at least 140 jobs in the next three years.

Both partners also continue their own TV and film operations. Mercury Filmworks’ projects have included Disney’s Tangled animated series, Mickey Mouse Shorts, Wander Over Yonder as well as the upcoming Netflix original series Hilda.

Cartoon Saloon was founded by Tomm Moore, who directed The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, Paul Young and Nora Twomey. Its next feature, Twomey-directed The Breadwinner, is being co-produced with Canada’s Aircraft Pictures, Luxembourg’s Melusine Productions and in association with Angelina Jolie’s Jolie Pas Productions. It will be released by GKids later this year.

“Together, we plan to make Lighthouse Studios and Kilkenny a center of excellence for animation,” said Cartoon Saloon’s CEO Paul Young in a statement. “Ireland enjoys a number of advantages when it comes to animation. The industry is supported by a growing number of educational programs and draws talent from all over Europe.... The Irish talent pool has been spilling over into other parts of Europe and North America for years and we look forward to welcoming a lot of that talent home.”