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Natalie Fischer–a former COO of Illumination Entertainment–has been named CEO of UK-based Locksmith Animation, succeeding co-founder Sarah Smith, director (alongside Jean-Philippe Vine) and co-writer of Locksmith’s first animated feature, Ron’s Gone Wrong. Smith has stepped down from her role at the studio to “concentrate on developing her own creative projects,” according to Thursday’s announcement.
Additionally, co-founder and Ron’s Gone Wrong producer Julie Lockhart has been named president of production at Locksmith.
Ron’s Gone Wrong–which follows awkward teen Barney, voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, and his talking, digitally-connected device voiced by Zack Galifianakis–is scheduled to be released by Disney’s 20th Century Studios on October 22.
Fischer joined Illumination as head of business development in 2009. She also worked closely with founder Chris Meledandri on the studio’s original business plan in 2007 and was involved in its launch and rollout. Previously, she was senior vp of business development and strategy at Universal from 2004 to 2009 and a business strategist at Channel 4 Television in the UK prior to that. She holds an MBA from Harvard and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.
Locksmith is currently in production on That Christmas (formerly known as The Empty Stocking), based on the children’s book series by Richard Curtis, and is developing an original musical/comedy set up at Warner Bros. Pictures.
Said Locksmith Animation chair/co-founder Elisabeth Murdoch in a released statement: “We are incredibly fortunate that Natalie Fischer has joined us to lead Locksmith’s expansion. She has a proven track record of success in the animation industry and those instincts and insights combined with Julie Lockhart’s unsurpassed production expertise will guide a new era of growth at our studio. I’d also like to thank our co-founder Sarah Smith for her contributions to Locksmith’s growth, her dedication to building the amazing team at the company, and her vision as a filmmaker. We are grateful for her leadership and stewardship of our first release, Ron’s Gone Wrong.”
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