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Hollywood producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are stepping into the animated film business in hopes of taking advantage of the booming market for family movies.

Grazer and Howard’s production company Imagine Entertainment has teamed with Australian animation firm Animal Logic to develop, produce and finance six movies during the next five years, they said Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Animal Logic, based in Sydney with offices in Vancouver and Los Angeles, is best known for doing the animation for hit films including Oscar-winner “Happy Feet” and “The Lego Movie,” both released by Warner Bros.

The move comes amid animation’s continued rise as one of the dominant forces driving the box office, as well as toy sales for studios. Four of the top 10 movies last year were computer animated — “Finding Dory,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Zootopia” and “Sing.” Meanwhile, the grown-up mid- budget movies Imagine has built its brand on face growing difficulties at the box office, according to The Times.

Beverly Hills-based Imagine is best known for live action adult-oriented fare, including “The Da Vinci Code” trilogy and “Apollo 13.” The company has long wanted to dive into animation, but couldn’t afford to take the gamble, Grazer told The Times.

“We’ve always had an interest in animation,” said Grazer, whose company previously has done family-oriented material including the “Curious George” television series. “It was, at that time, prohibitively expensive… but when this (opportunity) came about, it was a perfect chemistry.”

The companies are aiming to make movies that cost $75 million to $85 million to produce, which is relatively low for animated features, The Times reported.

Computer animated spectacles from the likes of Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks Animation typically cost $150 million or more. Animal Logic relies on Australian production incentives to make its animated movies more affordable, according to The Times.

—City News Service

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