Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Changes at the SPA

I've never really gotten why Sony Pictures Animation has never taken off.

They had some really solid talent there, right from the get go. And they had a strong, ready-built production arm with ImageWorks. But for some reason, the place has never taken flight.

And now, the Sony folks are dialing in some newer elements:

Sony Pictures Animation has inked a first-look production deal with Ellen Goldsmith-Vein's the Gotham Group.

Deal marks the first-ever first-look pact for SPA, a unit of Sony Pictures Digital Prods., which was overhauled in March with Hannah Minghella being named prexy of the division.

As the leading management firm for toon and kids content creators, Gotham Group offers a nice fit for SPA, which is looking to ramp up its efforts after a number of its projects have stalled in development ....

Staffers have told me SPA continues to be somewhat dysfunctional, although Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is well into production (and looks pretty good, judging from the few visuals on various computers screens that I've been privileged to see.)

Sony Pictures Animation, I think, has been cursed with lousy timing. Open Season had pretty good grosses for a first-entry -- not great, but okay. And then Surf's Up, a quirky feature that got good reactions from the critics and audiences that viewed it, ended up being the third penguin picture out of the chute and pretty much tanked. (A sour fate. I've yet to encounter an animation pro who didn't tell me: "Hey, it's good!" when he or she finally got around to actually seeing the flick.)

The one thing with which this Gotham partnership might help is building SPA a more extensive development slate ... which would be useful, because SPA's project pantry has been understocked the last few years.

Here's hoping Sony's big bird gets airborne.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good? Surf's Up was AWESOME. I enjoyed it much more than Ratatouille (which came out within weeks of Surfs Up)

It was new, fresh, had good voice acting and wonderful animation. Not to mention the best water/lighting I think I've ever seen.

Floyd Norman said...

I loved "Surfs Up." We were all surprised, and said, Hey, it's really good!

Sadly, there's more to running a studio than just making good movies. You've got to do everything else right, as well.

Anonymous said...

Sont Pictures Animation started off on the wrong foot with Rabbins/Finkleman-Cox at the helm. Now there is a new team in place and things are looking much brighter...

Racattack Force said...

SPA just has a really bad sense of timing when it comes to release dates.

Anonymous said...

The most important thing they need to do is find an identity. So far they've been trying to be either DW or Pixar and unsuccessful at either for one reason or another (kind of like Disney CG). Without the old DW producers in charge they might stand a chance, but they still need to have their own identity - FOX did it and SPA should be able to as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what this whole "identity" thing is about.

Just make a film, and figure out a way to get the people to go see it.

"Identities" emerge once you see a few of a team's films and star to discern patterns. The body of work comes first... it must.

Anonymous said...

Promotion! Promotion! Promotion! It's a busy marketplace with everyone shouting and screaming for attention. If you want your property to find it's audience you have to shout as loud as everyone else. SVA, thankfully, is great at making films but, for some reason, they suck at promotion.

Anonymous said...

All SPA needs to do is make movies that people want to see.

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