John Lasseter's Skydance Animation Premieres First Animated Short as Part of Apple Deal
In June, viewers at the Tribeca Film Festival got a first glimpse at Blush, the first film as part of a multiyear partnership between Apple Original Films and John Lasseter's SkyDance Animation.
The film, written and directed by Emmy Award-winner Joe Mateo, is SkyDance Animation's first release.
Blush tells the story of an astronaut horticulturist whose ship is struck by an asteroid and crashes on a distant desolate planet. He struggles to survive in the harsh conditions (he tries to make oxygen with a plant he has, only to see it wither and die).
An alien visitor lands at the same location and helps turn the rock they've descended upon hospitable for the traveler. The astronaut shares some of the food he was cultivating in his ship and a relationship begins to bloom between the two. Eventually, she helps him see all that the universe has in store.
The story is told without dialogue, with expressive and detailed animation telling a tale of friendship, kindness, and affection. The story shares Mateo's journey toward healing, hope, and being rescued by love and is inspired by the loss of Mateo's wife, Mary Ann, to breast cancer in 2017.
John Lasseter serves as executive producer, along with David Ellison and Dana Goldberg. It marks the directorial debut, best known for his work in the hits Big Hero 6 and Bolt. Heather Schmidt Feng Yanu is the producer.
Blush screened at the Tribeca Film Fest as part of a showcase of animated shorts curated by Whoopi Goldberg.
Blush began production shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown. Its message of hope and healing, while being produced during the pandemic, took on extra meaning for the filmmakers.
The Apple/SkyDance partnership will produce animated films and theatrical-quality animated series for Apple+, available in more than 100 countries. Apple has not announced a release date for Blush.
SkyDance Animation and Apple have announced several other animated features as part of the initial rollout of the partnership:
A series, The Search for WondLa, based on the book series by Tony DiTerlizzi
Luck, an animated feature with Jane Fonda and Whoopi Goldberg among the voice actors
Spellbound, a cinematic feature musical with an original score by Alan Menken and directed by Vicky Jenson
About John Lasseter
John Lasseter was one of the first students in the animation program at the California Institute of the Arts. He worked for the Walt Disney Company before joining Lucasfilm and co-founding Pixar, the groundbreaking animation studio, in 1986.
In 1988, he earned an Academy Award for best short animated film for Tin Toy.
Lasseter was the creative force behind many of the classic animated films of the past 30 years, directing such hits as Beauty and the Beast, A Bug's Life, Cars, Cars 2, Finding Nemo, Frozen, The Incredibles, and Monsters, Inc.
A pioneer in the field of computer animation, Lasseter directed the first fully computer-animated feature, Toy Story, in 1995, which earned him a second Academy Award. Lasseter was named chief creative officer of both Pixar and Disney's animation wing after the latter purchased Pixar in 2006. He was the executive producer of all Walt Disney Animation Studio productions from 2006 to 2018. He was named to his position at SkyDance Animation in January 2019.
SkyDance Animation has developed several deals in recent years, including the purchase of the Spanish animation house, Illion Studios, now known as SkyDance Animation Madrid.
SkyDance Animation is run by Lasseter and Holly Edwards, who is president of the division, part of David Ellison's SkyDance Media.