Nickelodeon & Lion Forge strike first-look deal for animated TV & film

David Steward II

Nickelodeon Animation and Lion Forge Entertainment, the US-based studio behind the Oscar-winning Hair Love, have struck a first-look deal for animated series and films.

Under the deal, Nickelodeon Animation will have a first look at all Lion Forge Entertainment kids and family IP across animated series, features, short-form and digital content, and may bring select Nickelodeon and Paramount IP to Lion Forge to develop and produce.

The agreement also creates the option for Lion Forge to co-finance certain projects the company brings to Nickelodeon, as well as serve as the animation studio on select Nickelodeon projects. The relationship comes as part of a commitment by Nickelodeon and Black-owned animation studio Lion Forge to create content that features diverse voices in front of and behind the camera.

Lion Forge recently rebranded from Lion Forge Animation and hired Imagine alum Stephanie Sperber as president and chief content officer as part of a push into live action. In April, the company partnered with Folktellers Studios to develop and produce Hero’s Journey The Series – a set of stories that explore the rise to fame of black artists during segregation. The firm is also currently producing an adaptation of the graphic novel series Iyanu: Child Of Wonder for Max and Cartoon Network.

Projects which have already been identified for potential development under the Lion Forge Entertainment and Nickelodeon Animation deal include Born Driven, a story based on the life of Wendell Scott, the first Black NASCAR driver; comedy adventure Iron Dragon, an original IP created by Jay Kim at Mostapes studio in South Korea and Lion Forge; and Marley And The Family Band, an animated series based on Cedella Marley’s picture book of the same title, co-produced by Polygram Entertainment and Tuff Gong Collective.

Lion Forge Entertainment CEO David Steward II and Stephanie Sperber oversaw the deal, which was brokered by Activist Artists Management’s Greg Suess and Jon Kanak.

“I am thrilled to work with Ramsey and her world-class teams at Nickelodeon Animation. Nickelodeon has always been a creative north star, and the opportunity to partner in creating new content that features diverse characters and builds a path for diverse talent in the animation industry is incredibly exciting,” said Steward.

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