Netflix Streamlines Film Animation Exec Structure In Wake Of Animal Logic Acquisition; Karen Toliver To Lead Film Team As Melissa Cobb Becomes Producer

EXCLUSIVE: After announcing its acquisition of the 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’ll steer the Film Animation division.

Karen Toliver, VP Animation Film, is being promoted to lead the Animation Film team. With that change, Melissa Cobb will move from her role as VP Animation Film but will stay on with Netflix as a producer. Cobb joined the company four years ago and to led the animation team and since then has built the studio from the ground up, attracting filmmakers and delivering a diverse slate of ani films so far.

Also transitioning is Gregg Taylor, the VP Animation Film who’ll also become a producer. He too has been there four years, helping to build the creative team and oversee and shepherd the film slates, most recently The Sea Beast.

Bruce Daitch, who has been VP Animation Production Operations will exit the studio, but first will work on helping the team transition and the integration of Animal Logic that is expected to keep him busy the next few months.

Series animation remains unchanged, with John Derderian remaining as VP 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 the Netflix global animation footprint with Animal Logic a catalyst for that effort. Among the films that Netflix has generated so far are include Oscar nominated Robin, Robin, Klaus and Over the Moon, Kris Pearn’s The Willoughbys, the Clare Knight and Harry Cripps-directed Back to the Outback, the Richard Linklater-directed Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, and the recently released Chris Williams-directed The Sea Beast. Upcoming are Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild, Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Wendy Rogers’ The Magician’s Elephant, and an Aardman sequel to Chicken Run. Recent animated film acquisitions by Netflix include the Oscar-nominated The Mitchells vs. The Machines, Vivo!, international on Spongebob: Sponge, and Wish Dragon.

Netflix confirmed the strategic reshuffle.

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Said Scott Stuber, Head of Global Film: “Over four years ago Melissa joined the company to lead our animation team and since then has built the studio from the ground up. She’s attracted top filmmakers and delivered a diverse slate of award winning animated films. Gregg was vital to building our creative team and he helped oversee and shepherd our incredible film slate to date, including, most recently, The Sea Beast. We are excited to have them 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 slate of animated films,” Stuber said. “She is beloved in the animation community and has had an immediate impact in her few short months at Netflix and I look forward to seeing her thrive in this elevated position.”

Said VP Studio Operations Amy Reinhard: “Bruce has been the glue of Animation production for the past two years, managing the production pipelines, toolsets, and infrastructures while also building two brand new Animation production studios during a pandemic; I’m so grateful for everything he’s done.”

On Balthazor, she said: “Traci has proven to be an incredible leader and collaborator, quickly adapting to the growing demands of the business scale and scope. With her experience, I am confident she will make a strong partner to Karen leading the animated film team.”


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