Haim Saban Launches Animation Studio With Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan

FILM: Chris Columbus
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Chris Columbus (WME, Hansen Jacobson) and his 1492 Pictures have acquired film rights to "How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe" from novelist Charles Yu (UTA, Signature Literary Agency). Columbus and 1492's Michael Barnathan and Mark Radcliffe will produce.

The trio have joined forces with Jeremy Zag to launch ZAG Animation Studios, with 10 family features in development

Haim Saban has joined forces with filmmaker Chris Columbus, producer Michael Barnathan and kids entertainment specialist Jeremy Zag to launch a new animation studio.

The team — consisting of Saban, chairman and CEO of Saban Capital Group and founder of Saban Brands, Oscar-nominated Columbus (the Harry Potter franchise, Sony's upcoming Pixels), Oscar nominee Barnathan (The Help) and Zag, founder of ZAG Entertainment — will lead ZAG Animation Studios in developing, producing and distributing feature film family entertainment franchises around the world.

The plan is to produce one 3D animated film and one CGI-live action hybrid film per year, starting in 2017. ZAG Animation Studios will operate out of Glendale, Calif.

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"This is an incredible moment for our business as we partner to create a world-class animation studio that will produce extraordinary feature films," Saban said. "ZAG Animation Studios will deliver creative and compelling family entertainment for generations to come."

ZAG Animation Studios has a slate of 10 original family features in development, including full CGI animated films as well as CGI-live action hybrids. The studio’s first feature, Melody, will be full CGI and co-directed by Columbus and Zag. Additional films on the slate include Ghostforce, a CGI-live action hybrid, and Abominable, in full CGI. More details on the lineup will be announced soon, with plans to include a full collection of themed consumer products.

The Saban group will be responsible for the coordination of all distribution and marketing strategies, while Saban Brands will handle worldwide licensing and merchandising for the films.

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"After all of these years, it's fantastic to start a new venture that brings together talented artists from around the world under Jeremy's excellent leadership and Haim's brilliant international business experience," Columbus said.

Added Barnathan: "We are thrilled to build an animation studio with the youthful genius that Jeremy brings and the experienced business guidance of Haim Saban. Jeremy Zag is a force of nature. He's one of those rare talents that comes along and inspires everyone he meets."

Said Zag: "I am so honored and excited to collaborate with these amazing entertainment legends that influenced my childhood with their incredible works. This powerful venture, with an unprecedented dream team, will inevitably set the stage for a powerful new player with a world-view perspective in the family entertainment arena."