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[Annecy '19] Sony's Bright Future Includes Mature Animation and International Co-Productions

In a relatively short space of time Sony Pictures Animation has had a remarkable turnaround. Riding high on the success of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, they took to the stage at Annecy as one of the Hollywood studios to watch.

It seems that thankfully Spider-Man is no mere blip, but represents an exciting new direction for the studio. Sony unveiled a new logo and a promising slate to go with it. Kristine Belson, Sony Animation president gave attendees a look behind the scenes of Spider-Verse, as well as previews of forthcoming films Angry Birds 2 and next year's Mitchells vs. The Machines,  which is produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and directed by Gravity Fall's veteran Mike Rianda.

The also shared visuals for Vivo, set to be Sony's first animated musical, featuring songs by Moana's Lin-Manuel Miranda. Wreck It Ralph director Rich Moore (now at Sony) has joined the film as a producer.

So far everything seems to be sounding good but hardly ground-breaking. That's where Sony's two new initiatives come in.

Sony's International Initiative will see the studio collaborate with storytellers around the world, to tell a much wider variety of stories. The first film produced under the initiative is Wish Dragon a co-production between Sony and China's  Beijing Sparkle Roll Media, Tencent and Base Media. Set in modern-day China, it's the directorial debut of Chris Appelhans, who worked on films including Coraline, Fantastic Mr Fox and Puss in Boots.



Perhaps even more exciting is Sony's Alternative Initiative. SPA are to become the first major studio to embrace animation for adults in a major way with a " slate of serial projects and features aimed at mature audiences."

Three series were announced, headed up by a revival of the iconic series The Boondocks as a complete reimagining of the adventures of the Freeman family for the modern era. Hungry Ghosts is a supernatural anthology based on the Dark Horse Graphic Novel series of the same name by the late Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose. Supabago is a stop-motion/live-action comedy series produced in association with Robot Chicken's  Stoopid Buddy Stoodios. Sony Television is an independent producer so these programs could theoretically appear on any TV network or streaming service.

Genndy Tartakovsky is returning to the studio after his successful Hotel Transylvania series, to make two movies for the Alternative program.  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." The second, Fixed, is going to be SPA's first R-Rated film. It features a dog who discovers it is his last night before a trip to the vets to get "fixed".

Sony's Vice President Kevin Noel says "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." Fellow VP Katie Baron 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."

With this slate, and with the inevitable sequels and/or spin-offs of Spider-Verse also coming down the pipe Sony Pictures Animation might just be the most exciting American studio working right now. We can't wait to see what's next!

[source: Sony]


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