LOS ANGELES (June 24, 2020) – Brad Lewis, Producer of the Oscar-winning RATATOUILLE and recently Oscar-nominated HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD, and media and technology entrepreneur P.J. Gunsagar have joined forces to launch Spire Animation Studios (“Spire Studios”), a new feature animation studio. Backed by Connect Ventures, an investment partnership between Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and global venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Spire Studios will empower world-class creative and technical talent from all mediums to develop high-end animated entertainment for global audiences. Guided by a synergistic team, with decades of feature animation experience, the company also aims to create proprietary next generation technology, enabling smaller production teams to interact more closely with the Director, crew, and story teams. Spire Studios is a filmmaker-driven company, founded on the principle that tapping into the heart and soul of creative talent leads to stories with depth and distinct vision. The company’s artistic and technical approach is designed to attract established and next generation talent from diverse backgrounds, helping bring their storytelling vision to feature animation. The studio’s strategic relationships with CAA, NEA, and Ziffren Brittenham LLP provide access to top talent, distributors, and financiers. The company plans to release its first full-length animated feature in 2023.

“The animation industry is ready for a new voice in feature animation. We’re super excited about forging creative chemistry with talented filmmakers from across mediums to make inspiring original stories for global audiences,” said Lewis, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Spire Studios. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with the best talent in the world, and we’re in a unique position to bring together amazing artists to push animated storytelling.” Lewis most recently produced the Oscar-nominated HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD for DreamWorks Animation, as well as the animated film STORKS, and served as Executive Producer on THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE, both from Warner Bros. Previously, he spent a decade at Pixar, where he worked on a myriad of films, serving as Producer on the Oscar and Golden Globe Award-winning RATATOUILLE, and Co-Director and Writer on CARS 2. Lewis was a key executive and one of DreamWorks SKG’s first employees, and he produced the studio’s inaugural animated feature, ANTZ. In addition, he received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Effects for The Simpsons 3D Halloween episode; a Sports Emmy Award for design for ABC Monday Night Football. “I couldn’t be more thrilled about partnering with Brad, whose movies have generated more than $2 billion in global box office, to build a next generation animation studio,” said Gunsagar, Co-Founder and CEO, Spire Studios. “Our plan to leverage cutting edge technologies in production and bring fresh voices to feature animation could be a game-changer for the industry.

Moreover, the strong industry tailwinds coupled with our partnerships with Connect Ventures and Ziffren Brittenham position us to build a long-lasting business.” Gunsagar, who co-founded and served as President of Prana Studios, helped build the 3D animation and visual effects studio into one of the largest independent animation studios in the world. While at Prana Studios, the company provided animation and visual effects for such films as TRANSFORMERS, TRON LEGACY, TINKERBELL, and Disney's PLANES, among others. Most recently, Gunsagar served as Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kidaptive, an innovative education and technology company dedicated to empowering children, parents, and educators through powerful adaptive learning tools. Kidaptive is best known for its award-winning animated iPad app, Leo’s Pad, and ALP, a platform for improving learning outcomes by providing highly scalable processing of complex data streams using proprietary machine-learning algorithms. Gunsagar also cofounded Ettache, an online account aggregation company, which was acquired in 2001 by Adhesion Technologies.