Who Will Animate Paramount Animation?

Will Industrial Light & Magic come to the rescue of Paramount Animation?

That’s the burning question after today’s announcement that Paramount Pictures is launching Paramount Animation, riding on the crest of Rango’s box office success (more than $240 million worldwide) and probable Oscar contention (“the best reviewed animated movie so far this year” — hint, hint). A new animation division is an imperative if Paramount loses its distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation (whose stock hit a 52-week low). Their deal expires at the end of next year, and, although a one-year extension was recently offered by studio chairman Brad Grey, he’s insisting that a renewal is contingent on a better deal for Paramount than the current 8% distribution fee.

According to a press release, Grey intends to spend up to $100 million per project, and other sources suggest that he intends to make one animated feature a year, starting in 2014. The plan is to develop a diverse range of CG-animated family films, with some projects produced under the Nickelodeon label. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount is already developing an adaptation of New Kid, the Penny Arcade web comic about the only earthling in an intergalactic school.

Paramount Animation will be folded into the Paramount Motion Group, under the supervision of president Adam Goodman, who is currently seeking someone to helm the division in consultation with vice chair Rob Moore and COO Frederick Huntsberry.

IndieWIRE’s Anne Thompson reports that a Rango sequel is likely too costly and not imminent anyway with Gore Verbinski now back to directing live-action.

But the questions remains: Who will provide the animation? Every other studio has an animation arrangement, either in-house or outsourced (such as Illumination Ent.’s deal with Paris-based Mac Guff launched with the highly profitable Despicable Me). Except Warner Bros., that is, which would definitely benefit from a partnership with DreamWorks.

ILM is primed for more animation after its breakthrough with Rango (which gets released on Blu-ray/DVD July 15), leveraging its photoreal VFX acumen at the service of a “dirty” aesthetic, and expanding its layout department. Meanwhile, Lucas also has his Singapore animation studio as an even greater possibility, which has matured with the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series and is currently working on its first feature.

This is definitely worth watching.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Movies

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