Even a few months ago, it would’ve been hard to imagine a scenario where Sony Pictures Animation (SPA) could steal away one of Disney’s most successful directors, but the studio’s fortunes changed overnight with the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which delivered SPA’s first Oscar for best animated feature and received widespread critical acclaim.

It was announced today that Rich Moore, 55, who co-directed Zootopia and the two films in the Wreck-It Ralph franchise, is leaving Disney to join the ranks of SPA. Sony revealed the news this morning that Moore will develop, produce, and direct animated features for them, while also acting in an advisory capacity on current projects, both features and series-based content. (Moore was also part of the creative leadership team at WDAS and would give input on other projects.)

Explaining his reasons for making the move from Burbank to Culver City, Moore said in a statement: “Sony Animation has emerged as a major player among animation studios. Their vision to give filmmakers and artists the freedom to take risks, and to really push the envelope when it comes to visual style and breadth of storytelling is impressive, and I can’t wait to be a part of shaping the studio’s future.”

Adds Kristine Belson, president of Sony Pictures Animation, “Rich is a world-class storyteller and he brings with him a wealth of experience and a unique sensibility for story, comedy, and heart. We are so excited for him to join our team of filmmakers at Sony Pictures Animation as we continue to develop a slate of animated features that are big, bold, and will take audiences by surprise.”

Moore had spent the last decade at Walt Disney Animation Studios, first directing 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph and later co-directing the Oscar-winning Zootopia with Byron Howard. Moore’s final job at Disney was the sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet, which opened in theaters last November and earned him a third Oscar nomination.

Prior to his time at Disney, Moore served as one of the original three directors on Matt Groening’s The Simpsons. During his time working on the show’s first five seasons, he directed the Emmy-winning episode “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment.” He later oversaw the development and production of another Groening series, Futurama.

Moore said of his time at Disney: “Ten years is a long time — but when you’re working on incredible films with people you love as I have these last ten years, that time flies by. I will always cherish my days at the Walt Disney Animation Studios and I leave with the faith that the studio is in good hands. I remain a lifelong Disney Animation fan and look forward to the films they’ll create in the future.”

He is repped by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham.

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