Vancouver, B.C. - Rainmaker Entertainment Inc. and The Weinstein Company announced that Ed Jones, executive producer on the Oscar-winning film Happy Feet, has joined Rainmaker Animation to produce Escape From Planet Earth.
Steve Nichols, lead animator on the last two Pirates of the Caribbean films has joined on as animation director. The film marks the first theatrical animated feature for Rainmaker. The Weinstein Company is financing the animated comedy and will handle worldwide distribution.
Escape From Planet Earth is a CG-animated comedy feature directed by Tony Leech and written by Leech and Cory Edwards, who along with Todd Edwards are responsible for The Weinstein Company's first CGI film and smash hit "Hoodwinked." Jones joins "Hoodwinked" producer Preston Stutzman of Blue Yonder Films, Jonathan Shestack of Jon Shestack Productions, Brian Inerfeld of Protocol and Gregory R. Little of Rainmaker Animation. Rick Mischel is Executive Producer and Jeremy Stein will co-produce. Michael Cole, co-president of production for The Weinstein Company, and Eric Robinson, vice president of production and development, are overseeing the project on behalf of TWC. Ed Jones, OscarR and BAFTA winner on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?," BAFTA winner for "The Witches of Eastwick" and AnnieR Technical Achievement winner for "Space Jam," will produce the film at the Rainmaker Vancouver facility. "To have Ed, one of the top talents in our industry, join our company is a big leap forward for Rainmaker not only in terms of his creative and management skills but also for his knowledge and technical expertise in the complicated arena of feature film pipelines," states Warren Franklin, CEO Rainmaker. "I'm happy to be producing Rainmaker's first theatrical feature and working with Tony," says Jones. "It will be exciting to bring this great project to life with the terrific Rainmaker team that's proven itknows how to create award-winning animation. I've been watching their work continually grow over the years and that experience has prepared them well for this new challenge." Paul Gertz, Executive Vice President, Rainmaker Animation adds, "Having someone of Ed's caliber combined with Steve's dynamic talent will be a great addition to our studio. The energy, knowledge and creativity they bring to the production fit the spirit of this movie and the vision Tony has for it." Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company stated, "We are really excited about the team we've assembled and are absolutely thrilled to be working with Ed and Steve whose experience and expertise is second to none, and with the fantastic team at Rainmaker." Prior to joining Rainmaker, Jones distinguished himself over the past two decades as one of the foremost leaders in the entertainment and media services industry having contributed to more than 200 projects. He was the former CEO of ESC Entertainment, a Time Warner subsidiary founded to create the signature visual effects for Warner Bros. Matrix sequels "Matrix: Reloaded" and "Matrix: Revolutions," which showcased photo real synthetic humans and environments with immersive virtual cinematography techniques. He was also the CEO/President and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor at Cinesite, which he founded for the Eastman Kodak Company and launched facilities in Hollywood and London. The Cineon compositing software he co-developed was recently awarded a Scientific Achievement Academy AwardR. Jones started his career at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), where he helped to lay the foundation for the company's expansion into the digital era and contributed to over 90 films including "The Empire Strikes Back", "ET: The Extra Terrestrial," "Return of the Jedi," "Ghostbusters I &II," "Ghost," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and the "Indiana Jones" trilogy. Jones was also the Visual Effects Supervisor and additionally, for some, Associate Producer on "Catwoman," "Cats and Dogs," "Almost Famous," "Soldier," "Hard Rain" and "Space Jam." Steve Nichols joins Rainmaker after having been an ILM animator since "Dragonheart" and "Mighty Joe Young." Nichols continued at ILM, most recently as the lead animator on the OscarR-winning "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." His other animation credits include the upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," as well as "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "Eragon," "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe," and all three "Star Wars" prequels.
"Escape from Planet Earth," an original idea by Leech, is a comedy about an alien prison break from Area 51, the legendary government facility rumored to imprison aliens from every corner of the universe, from which no one ever returns. Gary, an alien every-man, must overcome his fears and self-doubt to lead a daring escape, rescuing not just himself and the other inmates, but also his wife and young daughter, not only from Area 51, but from the Earth, long considered the Bermuda Triangle of the Universe.