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Bill Damaschke in Final Talks to Head Warner Animation Group (Exclusive)



A new era for Warner Bros. Animation is about to begin.

Veteran animation executive Bill Damaschke, who rose to lead DreamWorks Animation before its sale to NBCUniversal, is in final talks to take over as head of Warner Animation Group, the beleaguered animation arm of Warner Bros. Pictures..

The company has been leaderless since the exit of executive vp Allison Abbate, who departed in the summer of 2022 amid the Warners takeover by Discovery and the shake-up that followed. That included the shelving of Scoob: Holiday Haunta completed feature that was co-written and produced by Abbate’s husband, Tony Cervone.

The executive is expected to report to Warners film bosses Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy. It is unclear what title he will hold.

Damaschke spent twenty years at DreamWorks Animation, joining it from start-up level in 1995 and rising to COO. He oversaw productions such as Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and The Croods and also shepherded the company’s movie to live theatrical productions, including Shrek The Musical.

In 2017, he moved to briefly lead Skydance Animation, before pivoting to Broadway producing, where he produced the Moulin Rouge! The Musical and The Prom. Rouge was a massive hit with audiences and scored 14 Tony Award nominations in 2021, winning 10, best musical among them. Prommeanwhile, launched a tour as well as numerous local productions, and was adapted into a feature by Ryan Murphy.

WAG had a fruitful start, with its first offering being 2014’s The Lego Movie, a critical and box-office hit that surprised audiences and animation observers. Several Lego sequels followed until The Lego Ninjago cracked at the box office in late 2017, leading to the end of a film deal with the Danish toy company. Abbate took over the job of leader in 2017.

Other movies proved to be middle players on the animation scene with more recent movies, such as Tom & Jerry and Space Jam: A New Legacy, being savaged by critics and failing to connect. Its most recent outing was DC League of Super-Petsreleased in July 2022, generated over $207 million worldwide thanks to the DC brand and the star power of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.

WAG has two films in the can, including Coyote vs. Acme, starring John Cena. WAG is separate arm from Warner Bros. Animation, which is run by Sam Register. Both are expected to play into the plans of DC Studios, the new division run by James Gunn and Peter Safran.

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