Locksmith signs deal with DNEG Animation for ‘That Christmas’

Locksmith Animation has tapped DNEG Animation for the digital production of its second feature film, That Christmas. Based on the children’s book series by filmmaker Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Yesterday) the movie marks the directorial debut of character animation and story artist veteran Simon Otto (How to Train Your Dragon trilogy).

DNEG Animation’s second project with the animation studio, having previously worked on Locksmith’s first animated film Ron’s Gone Wrong.

Locksmith has announced the production’s lineup of producers and creatives including former Netflix and Disney veteran Nicole P. Hearon (Moana, Frozen) and Adam Tandy (The Thick of It, Detectorists), serving as producers. The company’s CTO/SVP of digital production, Doug Ikeler (Arthur Christmas, Open Season) is serving as VFX supervisor with Ashley Boddy (Ron’s Gone Wrong, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon) as head of story, and Sim Evan-Jones (The Chronicles of Narnia, Shrek) as editor. Production design is by Justin Hutchinson-Chatburn (His Dark Materials, Black Mirror); Dave Edwardz (Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker, Mary Poppins Returns) is head of layout, and Kapil Sharma (Ron’s Gone Wrong, Trolls) is animation director. 

Locksmith CEO Natalie Fischer said, “We are happy to continue our collaboration with Oscar-winning DNEG. DNEG Animation’s contribution to Ron’s Gone Wrong was integral to the film’s appeal to audiences and we look forward to this new chapter.”

DNEG Animation president Tom Jacomb said, “We are thrilled to be working with Locksmith again for their second project, following the success of Ron’s Gone Wrong. I’ve been a huge fan of Simon Otto and all his work on the How to Train Your Dragon series, so I’m very excited to now be working with him in the director’s chair!”

LSA co-founder and president of Production Julie Lockhart said, “It is a privilege to work with such a stellar team of animation veterans on our second movie alongside Simon Otto and Richard Curtis. By corralling their collective expertise, we are dedicated to creating a holiday film that families will enjoy for years to come.” 

The team is currently in production on That Christmas in London. Curtis is writing the screenplay with Peter Souter. Executive producers include Elisabeth Murdoch; Sarah Smith; Lockhart; Bonnie Arnold; Curtis; Souter; Colin Hopkins; and the books’ illustrator Rebecca Cobb.

Curtis’s book series (published by Puffin), The Empty Stocking, Snow Day, and That Christmas tell family stories taking place in the run-up to Christmas in a small English beach town.

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