Walt Disney Animation Studios is opening a new production facility in Vancouver, British Columbia as it ramps up its streaming offerings.
Focusing on long-form series like the upcoming musical revisiting of “Moana,” the studio will recruit new talent for its feature-quality slate and special projects meant exclusively for Disney Plus, it was announced Wednesday by WDAS President Clark Spencer.
Back in Burbank, the flagship animation studio will expand its over 900 employees and remain the exclusive home for film projects as well as shorter form series such as the recently announced “Baymax” and “Zootopia+.” Story development, storyboarding and production design for all projects will be based in Burbank.
“Disney Animation is creating more original storytelling for Disney+, expanding into series for the first time in our history with ‘Iwájú,’ ‘Tiana,’ ‘Moana,’ ‘Baymax’ and ‘Zootopia+,’” said WDAS chief creative officer Jennifer Lee. “As we continue to grow our original slate of projects, there are more creative, artistic and technological opportunities than at any previous time.”
With the opening, Amir Nasrabadi becomes head of WDAS, Vancouver. An animation veteran, Nasrabadi most recently served as executive vice president and general manager at WildBrain Studios. Previous roles include overseeing Pixar Canada as as well as senior leadership roles with Illumination and Paramount Animation. He previously served as WDAS” fInance lead.
“I am so honored and excited to be joining the Disney family again,” says Nasrabadi. “I continue to be amazed at the high-level of artistry and technical advancements coming out of the animation industry here in Vancouver and I am so proud to be a part of this community. This is really a dream come true for me.”
WDAS is not the only Disney-owned unit amping up animation. Marvel Studios is preparing the release of the animated multiverse story “What If …” on August 11. In late July, the division’s executive vice president of film production Victoria Alonso teased that more is to come from the comic juggernaut.
“We’re going to have our animation branch and mini studio, and there will be more to come from that as well,” Alonso told Variety. “We’re super excited about animation, which is my first love.”
Targeting a January 2022 opening, the Vancouver studio is recruiting for roles imminently. “Moana,” set for a 2024 debut, will be produced by Academy Award nominee Osnat Shurer, who worked on the feature film and “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
“With Burbank and Vancouver both home to some of the world’s most talented artists and technicians, we believe the storytelling and visual quality created within each location will meet the incredibly high standards we set for ourselves and audiences have come to expect from Disney Animation,” added Spencer.