Paramount Launches In-House Feature Animation Unit

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Paramount Pictures is getting into the cartoon game, announcing plans for an in-house animation division that will roll out its first title in 2014.

Chairman and CEO Brad Grey said the initiative was part of the studio’s long-term strategy for growth and that the new division, called Paramount Animation, will focus on high-quality animation with budgets of up to $100 million per feature.

Paramount Animation will be charged with developing a broad range of CG-animated films for a family audience, with emphasis being placed on properties from sister company Nickelodeon. The new division will be part of the Paramount Motion Picture Group, reporting to the group’s president, Adam Goodman, and will initially target one release per year. The studio is currently searching for an executive to lead the studio.

“Establishing an in-house animation division was the logical next step for us,” Grey said in a press release. “The marketplace has never offered as many opportunities to create wonderfully imaginative pictures at very appealing budget levels, so we feel this is a perfect moment to launch this effort. We are now eager to expand in animation with appropriate and prudent overhead and production budgets in a way that will allow us to be nimble, creative and innovative.”

The move comes as Paramount’s distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation nears its end and on the heels of its own successful animated film, Rango, which the studio released in March. With in-house animation operations now set up all over town, it’s unclear where DreamWorks could end up. Other in-house animation units include Sony Pictures Animation, Blue Sky Studios at Fox, Pixar and Disney Feature Animation at Disney, Warner Bros. Animation, and Illumination Entertainment at Universal.