Terry Ward Animation Studios (1990s-2009)Edit
Before Clearwater Animation, Terry Ward founded Terry Ward Animation Studios in 1992. Between 1997 and 2009, it acquired the remains of The Secret Lab (Dream Quest Images), Fox Animation Studios, VerniX Animation Studios, DisneyToons Studios Australia, SIP Animation, The Baby Einstein Company's animation division, Jetix Animation Concepts, Disney Animation France, Disney Circle 7 Animation, Rainbow Animation Group (Glendale; also their subdivisions Rainbow Group in South Korea, and Rainbow Animation in China).
The studio laid off a significant portion of its staff in 2000, when its second planned feature Primates was put on indefinite hold, due to estimated lack of interest and production difficulties. Disneynature, an independent film label of The Walt Disney Studios, agreed to use the rights for Clearwater's cancelled film, Primates, with permission. Primates has been renewed by Disneynature, and was renamed as Chimpanzee, Disneynature's nature documentary film about a young common chimpanzee named Oscar who finds himself alone in the African forests until he is adopted by another chimpanzee who takes him in and raises him like his own child.
In 2005, Terry Ward Animation Studios bought out Tadpole Kids.
In 2008, Terry Ward Animation Studios acqui-hired The Happy Nest Company and people behind Higglytown Heroes; the film finance, sales and distribution company Odyssey Entertainment; TV-Toonland AG; the French animation studios French Connection Animations (responsible for Persepolis) and Centre du Cinéma d'Animation (a.k.a. CCA, run by Michel and Anatole Gillet), the Rhode Island-based production company The Story Hat and the animation, production, distribution and marketing crew behind School Dare's first episode. They also acquired Vanguard Animation's cancelled and incomplete projects & intellectual properties.
The studio was closed down due to sudden financial difficulties.
"Old Clearwater" (2009-2017)Edit
Clearwater Animation was founded in August 2009 by Terry Ward from staff and other assets owned by recently closed Terry Ward Animation Studios.
AnimationEpic Studios (originally known as DuncanEpic) was an animation production company, and a subsidiary of Clearwater Animation founded in August 22, 2009 by Adam Katz. The studio was known for making animated TV shows, internet shows, direct-to-video films, direct-to-Internet films, television movies, and theatrical feature-length films, as well as Youtube's original online animated series, Inanimate Insanity and its second season. In 2012, the studio was acquired by Clearwater Animation, because Adam Katz was also a president of Clearwater Animation.
The former employees from other companies such as Blue Sky Studios, DreamWorks Animation SKG, 20th Century Fox Animation, Digital Domain, Glass Ball Productions, Jim Henson's Creature Shop, Rough Draft Studios, Rough Draft Korea, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Film Roman, Lix Animation Digital, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Animation Group, Moving Picture Company, Illumination Entertainment, Illumination Mac Guff, Universal Animation Studios, Blur Studio, Pixar Animation Studios, Yowza! Animation, WETA Workshop, WETA Digital, Double Negative Visual Effects, Wang Film Productions, Mercury Filmworks, Reel FX Creative Studios, and Industrial Light & Magic, were hired by Terry Ward.
In May 2010, Clearwater Animation Canada was founded.
In 2011, Clearwater Animation acquired the offices, technology and employees of ImageMovers Digital and merged it into Clearwater Animation Los Angeles, and later Imaginative Motion FX after Imaginative's aquisition by Clearwater.
In 2012, Clearwater Animation acquired the Albuquerque studio from Sony Pictures Imageworks and Tradition Studios from Digital Domain.
On September 27, 2012, It was reported that Paramount Pictures, Clearwater Animation and Funimation were developing a 3D computer-animated film that was originally going to be a spin-off to Soul Eater anime series under the working title Death the Kid, but it failed. Jake Sharratt was set to direct the film, then Tim Burton. On November 15, 2012, Paramount announced a new title for the film, Soul Eater. In June 19, 2013, Clearwater Animation announced a release date for the film on February 3, 2017, with Atsushi Ōkubo, who written and illustrated Soul Eater, directing. In December 31, 2013, it was announced that the film would be pushed back to a December 22, 2017 release. Clearwater later dropped the film, but it was later re-acquired by Maloing Entertainment.
In March 2013, Clearwater Animation Los Angeles acquired most of the employees from Ryhtym & Hues Studios Los Angeles, while in April 2013, Clearwater Interactive acquired Lucasarts Singapore. In October 2013, Clearwater Animation acquired the offices and employees of Pixar Canada.
In 2014, Clearwater Animation acquired another SPI property, this time the Chennai studio.
Also in 2014, Geo LTD acquired South Korean ink and paint studio Koko Enterprises, Japanese feature film company Telecom Animation Film, TMS Music UK, TMS Music Co Ltd, TMS Music HK (Hong Kong), record company Arutemate, Japanese video production and planning company Tocsis, animation lab TMS Photo, Indonesian production company PT TOMS MEDIA SERVICE ASIA (TMS Asia), CGI animation company Jinni's Inc and DVD distribution company Liverpool.
Shortly afterwards, Japanese companies Telecom, Arutemate, Tocsis, TMS Music Co Ltd, TMS Photo, Jinni's and Liverpool merged into Clearwater Animation Japan, while Koko Enterprises became its South Korean office. However, in January 19th, 2017, TMS Asia (Indonesia) and TMS Music (HK) merged with Koko Enterprises to form Clearwater Animation South Korea. Next day, Clearwater Animation Japan acquired the Kanagawa (Japan) and Seoul (South Korea) offices of Marza Animation Planet.
Since then, Clearwater Animation had a partnership with TMS Entertainment and Marza Animation Planet.
In 2015, Clearwater Animation acquired Cartoon Pizza and its subsidiaries Cartoon Cola and Cartoon Candy and merged them into Clearwater Animation Nashville
In February 9, 2015, a CGI animation studio in Redwood City was founded with 200 employees, when Adam Katz found out that Pacific Data Images (PDI) of the Shrek fame shut down. Its first feature film was set to be an untitled original animated film, set to be released on April 17, 2020, until it merged into the Los Angeles studio in November 2016.
In March 2016, Clearwater Animation acquired the Singapore office of Double Negative Visual Effects. They also announced untitled films, with following release dates:
- February 3, 2017
- June 23, 2017
- June 8, 2018
- February 1, 2019
- April 29th, 2019
- April 17, 2020
- August 21, 2020
- July 16, 2021
- March 25, 2022
- July 15, 2022
Clearwater Animation and Universal Pictures acquired the rights to the 1999 video game Galerians in November 2016 for a live-action/CGI film, making this the first horror project for Clearwater.
That month, Michael Wildshill has bought out Clearwater Animation's home video, creative design, conceptualization, post-production, CGI animation, licensing, online, stereography, music, advertising, live-action movie, video game and effects departments. The home video division was sold to Lionsgate Home Entertainment, while the rest was sold to Take Two Interactive, EA, Ubisoft, Disney Consumer Products & Interactive Media and Activision Blizzard.
- Following that, on December 2016, Clearwater Animation went under a major restructuring. All Glass Ball Productions' international studios in Asia and Europe (not counting Russia) were bought out by Clearwater Animation and they were merged into Clearwater Animation South Korea (Seoul), Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Paris and London.
- Clearwater Animation closed down studios in Shepperton, Manchester, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Santa Monica, San Diego, Los Angeles, San José (Costa Rica), Houston, Allen, Savannah (Georgia), East Lansing, Detroit, San Francisco, San Rafael (Marin County), Stuttgart and Frankfurt (Germany), South Africa, Giza (Egypt), Melbourne, Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Reykjavik (Iceland), Mexico City (Mexico), Burbank, Atlanta, Viborg (Denmark), Alcobendas (Madrid, Spain), Kiev (Ukraine), Chennai and Bangalore (India), Brussels (Belgium), Manila City (Phillippines), Montréal and Québec City (Quebec), Honolulu (Hawaii) and Helsinki (Finland), and made its employees either move to the nearest Clearwater Animation studio or work for someone else, somewhere else. 99% of the ex-employees chose to work for either Clearwater, Rockstar Games or Ubisoft.
- Clearwater Animation's Asia, Europe and Australia divisions were merged to create the EMEAA division, while it's Central and South America divisions merged to create the Latin America division.
- Its subsidiaries Clearwater Television Animation and Clearwater Stop-Motion Features merged into Clearwater Animation Florida, while Clearwater Productions merged into Clearwater Pictures, while they closed their offices in Los Angeles and Lake Buena Vista (Disney's Hollywood Studios). Clearwater Sound Studios and Clearwater Publishing moved from Los Angeles and New York to Clearwater to merge with Clearwater Animation.
- On January 2017, Clearwater Animation merged offices in Seoul, Singapore, Mumbai, Abu Dhabi and Sydney into Clearwater Animation Tokyo. That month, almost immediately after, the Münich and Sao Paulo studios (and with them, the Latin America division) was closed.
- Clearwater Animation Emirates was renamed to Clearwater Animation Dubai as result.
- Clearwater Animation bought out most of Geo LTD.'s international studios. Geo LTD England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland were merged into Clearwater Animation London.
- While Geo LTD.'s Arabia, India, Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Hong Kong and Macau, Australia and New Zealand studios were merged into Clearwater Animation Tokyo.
- Geo LTD China was merged into Clearwater Animation Beijing.
- Geo LTD. Toronto, Geo LTD. Quebec and NicThic Productions Canada (Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada) were merged into Clearwater Animation Canada.
- Geo LTD. Jamaica, Geo LTD. Oakland, Geo LTD. Latin America and Brazil, and Geo LTD. Florida was merged into Clearwater Animation Florida/Texas.
- Geo LTD.'s studios in France, Germany, Italy, Nordic, Spain, Catalonia, Galicia, Basque Country, Valencia, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Portugal, CIS and Southeastern Europe, Greece, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania were merged into Clearwater Animation Paris, which will, from then on, cover all European localization and house all European animators with helping them financially and in a way which allows them to improve creative thinking.
- Geo LTD. Israel and Geo LTD. South Africa were merged into Clearwater Animation Dubai.
- However, in return, on January 26th, 2017, Clearwater Animation New York was sold to Geo LTD and was rebranded Geo LTD. New York. The next day, Clearwater Animation London was sold and merged into Cartoon Network Development Studio Europe and Clearwater Animation Beijing was sold and merged into China Film Animation.
- On January 29th, 2017, Clearwater Animation, EndemolShine Group and Spacetoon announced a long-time partnership. EndemolShine Group also announced to acquire Clearwater Television to merge into EndemolShine Studios animation and drama departments.
- Also that same day, Clearwater Animation Dubai, originally founded in October 2012, was closed and employees went on to work for Blue Dar, Spacetoon and EndemolShine Middle East.
- With that, Clearwater Pictures closed offices in Paris and Tokyo and employees continued to work at Clearwater Animation. The library of all 17 original films solely produced by Clearwater Pictures Japan was acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan.
- On January 30th, 2017, Clearwater Animation acquired Los Angeles-based The Animation Picture Company, Animation Nation Army Inc, Geo LTD Turkey, Jerry Dale's Imaginative DataMation and Imaginative Motion FX, Wonderful Neon Productions and Malaysia-based Tau Films (formerly R&H Studios Malaysia)
- The Animation Picture Company, Wonderful Neon Productions and Imaginative Datamation merged into the new Clearwater Los Angeles company, while Animation Nation Army Inc will become CWLA's subsidiary. However, ANA merged into CWLA only two weeks later.
- Tau Films became Clearwater Animation Malaysia.
- Geo LTD Turkey became Clearwater Animation Turkey.
- That same day, the production on Number the Stars was announced to be continued by Lix Animation Digital.
- In November 2017, Clearwater Animation Paris was moved out of the EMEAA division. Also, CA Canada was moved out of the North America division, renamed soon to Clearwater Animation USA.
- The Texas studio (established in 2014) merged into Los Angeles studio, while the Malaysia studio merged into Tokyo studio and the Turkey studio merged into Paris studio. The EMEAA division then merged into Clearwater Tokyo to form Clearwater Animation Asia.
- Clearwater Animation Canada sold and merged it's Toronto studio to Rockstar Toronto and Ubisoft Toronto.
- Clearwater Animation Asia (established in 2012) was sold to Marza Animation Planet.
- Clearwater Animation Paris (established in November 2011) was sold to TeamTO.
- Clearwater Pictures, the live-action production and film distribution subsidiary founded by Terry Ward in August 2009, filed to Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2017 and, shortly afterwards, closed operations. The assets were sold to DHX Media.
- Clearwater Animation Canada, a studio in Vancouver at the time, was then split to Bardel Entertainment, DHX Studios Vancouver and Atomic Cartoons the same month.
- Because of all this, Clearwater Animation announced to drop out of the Lazytown movie project and Number The Stars.
Clearwater Animation announced a merger with Imaginative, AnimationEpic Studios, Lix Media, Wonderful Neon Productions, Geo LTD New York, CGI Entertainment & VerniX Animation Studios, Shankar Animation, 2BIG3k Animation, DevilFish Creative FX, Joe Ferr's Ironmint Productions (with Ironmint Comics), 4Licensing Corporation (formerly 4Kids), Turbo Entertainment, American Bro and The Program Exchange (formerly part of ZenithOptimedia) to form "the new Clearwater". Taylor Grodin, Mark S. Katz, Mark Gordon, Jill R. Katz, Sam Katz, Brian Koch, Justin Chapman, Michael Bruzzone (from AnimationEpic Studios), Joe Ferr (from Ironmint), Chance S. and Jerry Dale (from Imaginative Animation/Motion FX), Adi Shankar (from Shankar Animation) and Henri Dosclz, Marc Zimmermann, Steve Samono & Adam Hargreaves (from 2BIG3k Animation, co-founded by Zimmerman) joined the board of directors and the headquarters in general. These people were asigned to establish strategies and projects to "save the company".
They ended the animated show The Playroom (even though creator Delroy Cornelius has plans for a revival), gave Inanimate Insanity to Adam Katz and his independent team to work on from then on, and put films scheduled after 2019, on hold.
2BIG3k Animation used to be Clearwater Animation's parent company, while Wonderful Neon, DevilFish (as Glass Ball VFX), VerniX & Geo LTD New York were its sister/sibling companies, AnimationEpic Studios was a subsidiary and Ironmint, Program Exchange, 4Kids & Imaginative were frequent collaborators. Shankar Animation will still operate as a label/in-name-only unit of Clearwater Animation for animated projects mainly produced by Shankar. However, Clearwater will not choose to take credit for Castlevania, a Netflix series, or any animated series by Shankar based on other intellectual properties.
AnimationEpic Studios (founded in 2009) and Imaginative Inc, Imaginative Television, Imaginative Pictures (all three founded in 1995) merged into Clearwater Animation Florida, while Imaginative Animation, Ironmint Comics, 2BIG3k Animation, VerniX, Wonderful Neon Productions, CGI Entertainment, DevilFish and Ironmint Productions merged into Clearwater Animation Los Angeles, even though Imaginative Animation is currently operating through the Imaginative label, of Clearwater Animation Los Angeles.
The main unit, now serving as a parent company for the Florida and Los Angeles studios, and the Clearwater Animation USA "umbrella" were merged and relaunched under the legal name Clearwater Partners II LLC. They received a total of USD $42 billion in investments (in both capital and products) from two consortia;
- YPA Partners, a consortium of investors, which is led by Yucaipa Companies, Providence Equity Partners and Apple;
- Caffeine Fund, an international consortium, this time led by Media Rights Capital and American Zoetrope, while consisting of independent production companies, individual investors and broadcasters
This investment helped Clearwater Animation pay off their debt and erase the possibility of bankruptcy at the time. Caffeine Fund and YPA Partners received 10% in the company each.
"New Clearwater" (2017-present)Edit
They acquired Driest Bar Productions in December 29, 2017 and shortly afterwards re-branded the company as DB/Clearwater Productions. Also, Clearwater Animation is considering re-opening studios in Dallas and Austin, Texas, and Santa Monica, California; also a possible new studio in Brooklyn, New York has been rumored.
On January 3, 2018, they acquired the IP & rights, animation and post-production operations of Domino Entertainment (thus acquiring the School Dare IP); The Romite LA and New York studios, Audiences Films (Miami studio owned by Romite) and Romite Properties LLC (the licensing and consumer products division); and the licensing, production and other non-comic book operations of Omegalpha Productions. These were merged into Clearwater's Los Angeles studio, with Omegalpha's James Durman becoming part of the directors in the company; while Audiences Films merged into Clearwater Animation Florida.
They also announced a partnership with DreamWorks Animation and Universal Studios, looking to produce two feature films within 7 years; and an upcoming revival of Clearwater Television, now a television production joint venture with ITV Studios America, ITV Entertainment, and ITV America. The latter deal allows the two companies to interact with each other and even their sister companies and owned companies.
Chance S. and Eddie Patino also re-started production of What Do Illustrators Also Do, a sequel to WDID that was cancelled when the original Clearwater closed.
In January 10, 2018, Clearwater Animation Los Angeles hired staff from Film Roman, Sesame Workshop, the Owl magazine, DHX Media, Sony Pictures Television Networks, Sony Pictures Television International Productions, CBS Studios International, CBS Television Studios, Fox Entertainment Group, Klasky-Csupo and Stainton Media Group. They also acquired Greeny Phatom Productions LLC.
They also acquired Mako Pictures and GreenyWorld Studios' subsidiary Firecracker 2 Pictures.
On January 18, 2018, Stainton Enterprises began negotiations to purchase Clearwater, it's properties, and it's subsidiaries. This came after Clearwater purchased Greeny Phatom Productions LLC and most of the Greeny Phatom franchise days earlier. The purchase is expected to be finalized by August 2018.
On February 17, 2018, Clearwater members Chance S. and Eddie Patino opened up a new animation studio, named Impact Animation Studios. With this, the studio joined production of two upcoming projects: What Do Illustrators Also Do? and Pillow Fighters, and announced a new untitled project set for 2021.
In March 2018, Clearwater Partners II LLC acquired Ginne and merged Ginne's Los Angeles and Toronto offices, Picture Entertainment, Firecracker 2 Pictures and Nuclear Group plc (Canada) into Clearwater Animation Los Angeles. Ginne was also re-established as Clearwater Animation Moscow, though it still trades as Ginne.
Following the sexual harassment charges against Robert Stainton, the owner of Stainton Media Group, it's acquisition of Clearwater Partners II LLC was quickly halted. YPA Partners and Caffeine Fund merged together to form YPA Caffeine on March 27, 2018. It eventually was renamed YPA Investment Group LP. "Dozens and dozens" of investors (nicknamed the "YPA Caffeine Alumni Group") left the YPA partnership around May 2018 due to surrounding events (such as a lawsuit against the producers of Xenon, including Clearwater's live-action division), while the Ward family sold around 10% of their stake in the company to Deutsche Bank, and 5% more to YPA Investment Group LP.
In June 2018, Apple, Media Rights Capital, Amazon.com, Lionsgate and ABS Capital Partners announced to sell all their stakes and assets within the YPA Investment Group LP, to the Yucapia Companies and Deutsche Bank AG. The deal's completion has yet to be decided on. It's been rumored once this deal goes through only after:
- all of Clearwater's content that have been financed by MRC and/or distributed by Lionsgate have been released
- Clearwater finishes production on it's exclusive content for Amazon and Apple (the Apple/Clearwater collaboration and Zodie High, though the latter may get shopped around after season 2)
In July 2018, Lionsgate, Netflix Studios, Media Rights Capital and Clearwater Partners II LLC announced a 36-picture partnership agreement. 35 films are set to be released on August 1, 2018, while the last of the films, Goggles 2, will be released in January 2019.
After January 15, 2019, Clearwater Partners II LLC is set out to sell its Imaginative label, Impact Animation Studios, its New England and Los Angeles studios (with the exception of 30% of the staff of DB/Clearwater Productions, its trademarks and the office), Waterdrop Comics and Waterdrop Animation Studios to Singularity Games. The latter will make the assets part of their Singularity Animation unit. Following this announcement, Imaginative announced they have plans to work on a Super Ultimate Squad film with Impact and Singularity, set to be released with Lionsgate, making it the only film Imaginative has made to not be distributed by a major film studio.
In November 2018, Imaginative Motion FX announced 3 new films, with one set to be released in 2020.