During a presentation at Annecy today, Sony Pictures Animation announced two new productions initiatives that will expand its slate of animated projects, both features and episodic series, and reach more adult and global audiences. These new divisions will produce content in addition to the main Sony Pictures Animation pipeline, which includes upcoming features like The Angry Birds Movie 2, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, and Vivo.
Kristine Belson, Sony Animation’s president, who lead the presentation, said of the studio’s philosophy moving forward: “Sony Pictures Animation is committed to making big, bold movies, where the hand of the artist, the hand of the filmmaker, is strongly felt. We celebrate the fact that we do not have a house style. We intend to continue down the path that we are on – bringing all audiences stories from around the world, stories no one else is telling – and do so in a way that pushes the boundaries of animated storytelling.”
Sony Pictures Animation International Initiative
Producer Aron Warner (Shrek, The Book of Life) is spearheading Sony Pictures Animation’s international initiative, through which the studio will collaborate with storytellers from different countries around the world to develop and produce a wide variety of animated features for both local and global release.
Describing the importance of thinking global Warner said: “We are at a very critical point in our history as humans. The future is all of us working together, learning from each other’s stories, mistakes and triumphs. There are countless great stories out there that most of the world has never heard, and every day there’s a new director, writer or artist with a vision stepping up to the plate to lead a team and create something new. I truly believe this is the next big leap in the art form of animation and I’m honored, humbled, and incredibly lucky to be part of this project.”
The initiative’s first release, Wish Dragon (pictured above), is currently in production. Directed by Chris Appelhans, the film is said to be a moving tale about the power of friendship set in modern-day Shanghai. Wish Dragon is a co-production between Sony Pictures Animation, Beijing Sparkle Roll Media, Tencent, and Base Media. It’s set to release in China in 2020.
Sony Pictures Animation’s Alternative Initiative
SPA’s new alternative animation division includes a slate of serial projects and features aimed at mature audiences.
During the announcement Kevin Noel, Sony Pictures Animation vice president, said: “We want to continue to tell stories that speak to modern audiences, while exploring different methods of storytelling that are appealing to new filmmakers and artists.” Katie Baron, the other SPA vice president in charge of the program, added, “With this new initiative, we are expanding opportunities for artists inside Sony Animation, and also aiming to attract talent known for their work outside of the family space.”
Baron and Noel unveiled three shows in development at the studio under this new initiative: Hungry Ghosts, Superbago, and The Boondocks.
Hungry Ghosts is based on the Dark Horse Graphic Novel by the late Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose. Hungry Ghosts will be an anthology of frightening, hilarious, twisted, and culinary-inspired ghost stories. Each episode will range in tone and will look completely different from the last, taking advantage of various forms of animation to best fit each story.
Superbago, a collaboration with Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, and previously developed as a feature film at Sony Animation, will be a half-hour comedy that blends clay animation and live-action, and follows the adventures of two dimwitted animated heroes traveling in a very real Winnebago around the actual United States of America.
The return of The Boondocks, a co-production with Sony Pictures Television, is a complete re-imagining of the beloved and wildly rebellious animated satire for this modern era, and chronicles the adventures of the Freeman family against the evil local government tyrant Uncle Ruckus, who rules fictional Woodcrest County, Maryland with an iron fist.
Director Genndy Tartakovsky (Hotel Transylvania, Samurai Jack) made a surprise appearance to share a a first look at visuals from two previously-announced animated features that he will develop under Sony’s new alternative animation division: Black Knight and Fixed.
Black Knight is an original, action-adventure epic that tells the story of a highly skilled and faithful knight who, after failing to protect his king, must transform himself into the Black Knight to save the kingdom.
Fixed, the studio’s first R-rated comedy, directed by Tartakovsky is the story of an average, all-around good dog who is in love with the show dog next door, and what happens when he learns that he is going to get neutered in the morning. What does a dog do with his last night out with his besties?