Friday 17 August 2012

Paramount Animation's Slate Fills Up - J.J. Abrams to Direct

Following the commercial and critical success of Rango last year (winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature) and the impending loss of the profit generated from distributing DreamWorks' films when the two companies part ways later this year, Paramount decided to go into business for itself and set up its own animation department. It's worked well for Fox, Sony and Universal, with their respective animation divisions, and Paramount is hoping for success for its animated slate - and it's looking promising so far.

So far, all we'd heard about the division is that it was starting off with a sequel to Nickelodeon's successful The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, due in 2014; to be followed by The New Kid, based on the Penny Arcade comic. But today, in addition to lots of new details about these projects, we got some hints at what we can expect from Paramount Animation in the future - which you can read all about after the jump break!
Paramount announced today, via Variety, that they'll be working with producer Mary Parent (Role Models, Pacific Rim), who will produce their two already announced features. The Spongebob Squarepants Movie 2, which will be directed by Paul Tibbit (a writer and storyboard artist on the first Spongebob movie), produced by Parent, and, as we learned today, penned by Kung Fu Panda 2's Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. Parent will also produce The New Kid, from a script written by The Book of Eli's Gary Whitta; the story follows a lone Earth boy in an alien school.

Variety also reports that Paramount is looking to explore other Nickelodeon properties, including Dora the Explorer, The Legend of Korra and Monkey Quest. Perhaps not as widely recognised as Spongebob, but a Dora film is sure to be a big hit. Adding to the possible financial benefits for Paramount is the fact that they're setting aside relatively modest budgets - for releases from a big Hollywood animation studio anyway - of $100 million or less; more in line with Despicable Me's $69 million than Toy Story 3's $200 million.

More excitingly though, is that Paramount announced that Star Trek director, J.J. Abrams, is developing a project for the studio! Abrams, who created mega-hit TV series, Lost, and produced Brad Bird's live-action debut, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, is creating a top-secret animated feature for the studio. The Super 8 director is following in the footsteps of fellow live-action blockbuster directors, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Gore Verbinski, who also recently branched out into animation with The Adventures of Tintin and the film that inspired Paramount Animation, Rango.

Paramount exec Adam Goodman, who's in charge of overseeing the division, also spoke of the necessity of secrecy surrounding the studio's upcoming projects:

"The longer-than-average development time for animated films requires some level of secrecy to ensure the kind of original ideas being developed here are protected, so holding back on specific announcements enables us to reveal projects when they are further along in the creative process."

It may be a while, then, before we hear much more about anything beyond The New Kid, but J.J. Abrams directing an animated film? Colour me interested.

Via /Film.

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