Mumbai-based Crest to co-produce Hollywood animation flicks

Mumbai, April 4 (IANS) India's Rs.13 billion ($324 million) animation industry is going places. Hollywood's film entertainment studio Lionsgate Friday announced a three-movie co-production deal with Crest Animation Productions, a subsidiary of Mumbai's Crest Animation Studios Ltd.

"The movies will be in CGI (computer generated imagery) animated features. The first of these, 'Alpha and Omega' is already under production on a budget of $25 million," said Ken Katsumoto, who is producing the movie for Lionsgate.

The animation for the entire movie will be created in-house at Crest Animation Studios at Ghatkopar in northeast Mumbai.

Pre-production for the movie is underway at Crest Animation Productions' facility in Burbank, California.

"We are very excited to be working with Crest, which is one of the world's finest CG animation studios. It is justifiably called the 'Disney Studios' of India," Katsumoto said after announcing the deal to the media.

"Alpha and Omega", a 3D animated feature, is being made on the lines of "Finding Nemo" and "The Lion King". It is about the imaginary journey of two kidnapped wolves who find love along the way.

Former Disney director Richard Rich, who made movies like "Fox and the Hound", is producing the movie for Crest.

Noah Fogelson, CEO of Crest Animation Productions, Seemha Ramanna and A.K. Madhavan, managing director and co-founder and CEO of Crest Animation Studios Ltd respectively, are executive producers

Directed by Anthony Bell and Ben Gluck, "Alpha and Omega" is the first animated Hollywood movie to be created entirely by an Indian company.

Justin Long (of "Live Free or Die Hard" fame) and Hayden Panettiere (of "Raising Helen" fame) will lend their voices to the pair of wolves in the movie.

Madhavan told IANS that the activities of Crest Animation Studios was totally centred around Hollywood now and that it had stopped taking any job for Indian movies and television.

"As our Hollywood assignments increased over the years, we have to set up a studio in California to prepare the pre-production work for animated films. But our animation studio is still at Ghatkopar in Mumbai," he said.

Crest Animation Studios Ltd, earlier known as Crest Communications, was founded by Shyam Raja Ramanna in 1990. It was one of the first studios in India to do CG work for Indian movies. It went public in 1995 and five years later it acquired Rich Animation Studios in Los Angeles.

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