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.