Julie Lockhart, Stacey Snider, Sarah Smith

Seeking to bulk up its animation supply lines after the imminent end of its deal to distribute DreamWorks Animation content, Twentieth Century Fox Film has signed a multi-year pact with the UK’s Locksmith Animation.

The parties said they have greenlit the first feature although they declined to reveal its title. The plan is that after the release of the mystery film, which is expected in 2020, the parties expect to release one feature every 12-18 months.

The arrangement compliments Fox’s animation partnership with Blue Sky Studios and comes as its deal to distribute DreamWorks Animation fare ends following Comcast’s acquisition of the animation studio.

London-based Locksmith Animation will develop and produce projects end-to-end in London with partners Double Negative providing digital production. Co-CEOs Sarah Smith (pictured at right), the Arthur Christmas co-director formerly of Aardman Animation, and Julie Lockhart (pictured at left) established the company in 2014.

Twentieth Century Fox Film chairman and CEO Stacey Snider (pictured centre) said, “As we redouble our efforts in the family and animation space, there is no better partner in world to welcome into our family than Locksmith.

“Julie and Sarah are each singular talents, and together with their vast experience and belief in the preeminence of the storyteller, they are building a world class animation studio that is attracting top tier talent to an ambitious slate of projects.”

Smith and Lockhart, added, “We are thrilled by the response of both Stacey and the Fox team to Locksmith’s vision, talent and IP. TCFF has a first-class track record in marketing and distributing animation, and their shared appreciation of our stories make this a truly exciting partnership. Embarking on production of our first film, with more titles in the pipeline, is a great moment for Locksmith.”