EXCLUSIVE: Lion Forge Entertainment, the company behind the Oscar winner hair loveand Nickelodeon Animation are joining forces in a first-look deal covering animated series and features with the goal of creating content that features diverse voices in front of and behind the camera.
As part of the deal, Nickelodeon Animation will have a first look at all of Lion Forge Entertainment’s children’s and family IPs in animated series, feature films, short films and digital content. The Company may also bring select IP addresses from Nickelodeon and Paramount to Lion Forge for development and production.
Lion Forge Entertainment also has the ability to co-finance certain projects the company brings to Nickelodeon and to serve as the animation studio for select Nickelodeon projects.
The first projects identified for potential development include: born driven, a story based on the life of Wendell Scott, the first black NASCAR driver; comedy adventure iron dragon, based on the original IP by Jay Kim at Mostapes Studio in South Korea and Lion Forge; And marley and the family band, an animated series based on the picture book by Cedella Marley, co-produced by Polygram Entertainment.
Lion Forge Animation, founded by the son of US tech billionaire David Steward, was renamed Lion Forge Entertainment earlier this year. It is one of the few black-owned animation studios in North America and is known for its diverse, authentically told stories. The Steward family, which controls one of the largest black fortunes in the United States, wants to raise up to $50 million to increase efforts to create racially diverse film and television content. Bloomberg reportedciting a person familiar with the plans.
Lion Forge’s goal is to monetize its own intellectual property to build franchises and create new intellectual property for use in all publishing businesses.
Lion Forge Entertainment currently develops and produces animated and live-action content for children and families, teens and adults, building on the success of previous Lion Forge Animation projects, including the Oscar-winning one hair love, and the coming Iyanu Animated series for Max based on Yoruban mythology.
Lion Forge Entertainment CEO David Steward II and President and Chief Content Officer Stephanie Sperber oversaw the deal, brokered by Greg Suess and Jon Kanak of Activist Artists Management. The deal expands Sperber’s relationship with Nickelodeon, where Sperber oversaw the creative IP development and production of the Annie Award-winning film The Tiny Boss Show And Bossy Bear and served as executive producer on Nickelodeon’s live-action series The astronauts during her time at Imagine Kids+Family Entertainment.
“Lion Forge Entertainment is at the forefront of so many exciting and new stories told in animated films, and we are incredibly fortunate to enter into this deal to jointly create new content for our global audience,” said Ramsey Naito, President of Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon animation.
“I’m thrilled to be working with Ramsey and her world-class teams at Nickelodeon Animation. Nickelodeon has always been a creative Northstar and the opportunity to collaborate on creating new content with diverse characters and to pave the way for diverse talent in the animation industry is incredibly exciting,” said Steward.
“I look forward to continuing the wonderful creative partnership with the Nickelodeon team. Together we have a fantastic opportunity to impact children and families around the world by showing diversity on screen and creating a pipeline for young, diverse talent in the animation industry,” said Sperber. “Additionally, Nickelodeon is one of the best franchise developers in the industry and will be a great partner as we continue to pursue further expansions together.”