Former MGM production president Adam Rosenberg and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” writer-director Rodney Rothman on Tuesday announced the launch of Modern Magic, a new animation studio the slate of which goes beyond the usual family-friendly fare of the genre. “Spider-Verse” showed the potential for using animation to tell different kinds of stories than have usually been told in the medium, and this new studio will likely have an emphasis on music, inclusion, and fantasy as its tentpoles.
The company has 20 features and series in various stages of development. Among them are an animated feature inspired by the music of Juice WRLD — one of Spotify’s most popular artists of last year — written by “Daily Show” correspondent Jaboukie Young-White.
There’s also “Nuevo Rico,” based on Kris Mercado’s SXSW short and set in a psychedelic future version of Puerto Rico, and an untitled “offbeat, subversive live action-comedy” feature that Quinta Brunson (“A Black Lady Sketch Show”) is currently writing for Sony Pictures.
Modern Magic’s launch comes on the heels of the success of “Spider-Verse.” The film earned a rare non-Disney/Pixar Best Animated Feature Oscar win in 2019. The Phil Lord and Christopher Miller production was adored by critics and audiences alike for breaking the mold of traditional animated features, with its comic-book style and blend of CG and hand-drawn techniques. It grossed $375.54 million on a $90 million budget. A sequel is set for release next year.
“Helping lead the team that made ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ was a life-altering experience that forever changed what I thought was possible. We’ve started Modern Magic to keep going and see what else a motivated, ragtag group of artists can accomplish when they take the leap. Commercially, we see a worldwide animation audience that understands it is a medium for smart, great, limitless, multi-genre storytelling, and, as ‘Spider-Verse’ proved, doesn’t need to be confined to the kid & family audience or a 30-minute sitcom,” said Rothman. “There’s a massive audience looking to see every boundary pushed; for that audience, anything is possible. It doesn’t have to look real as long as it feels real. And we know from experience how excited the creative community is about the opportunity to explore new mediums to express the emotion, artistry and humanity critical to 21st-century storytelling.”
Rosenberg said the launch of Modern Magic is about recognizing the already-evident desire of audiences to watch movies and shows that break traditional molds.
“When it comes to animation, we don’t see ourselves as fortune tellers. We see ourselves as recognizing where we already are. Animation is a major source of creative and commercial growth, it easily travels around the world, and it is a driving force behind artistic breakthroughs in every medium. Our projects are designed to sit at the intersection of entertainment, culture, and technology, and what we do in animation feeds into our distinct take on live action,” he said.
Rosenberg spent nearly a decade at MGM, where he was most recently co-president of production until last year. He oversaw production of the first two “Creed” moves, the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect”,” and Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta’s “Candyman.”
Rothman was a writer on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” wrote “22 Jump Street,” and produced “Get Him to the Greek.”