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Liz Murdoch’s Locksmith hires Fischer

Locksmith Animation, the UK studio co-founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, has appointed a new CEO after co-founder Sarah Smith stepped down from the role.

Natalie Fischer

Murdoch has named Natalie Fischer, a former chief operating officer at NBCUniversal-owned Illumination, in the executive role.

Smith, who wrote and directed Ron’s Gone Wrong, Locksmith Animation’s first feature film, has stepped down from her role at the studio to concentrate on developing her own creative projects.

Meanwhile, Smith’s fellow co-founder at Locksmith, Julie Lockhart, has been named president of production at the London- and LA-based company. Lockhart will continue to lead all aspects of production and development as well as partnering with Fischer at a strategic level.

Fischer, who has been a senior adviser at Despicable Me producer Illumination for the past four years, joins the company as it continues production on That Christmas (fka The Empty Stocking), a holiday film based on the children’s book series by filmmaker Richard Curtis.

The studio is also developing an original musical/comedy project that is set up at Warner Bros. Pictures.

Previously, Fischer was senior VP of business development and strategy at Universal from 2004 to 2009 and a business strategist at Channel 4 in the UK prior to that.

Locksmith Animation chair and co-founder Murdoch said Fischer “has a proven track record of success in the animation industry and those instincts and insights combined with Julie Lockhart’s unsurpassed production expertise will guide a new era of growth at our studio.”

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