Sony Pictures Animation Announces Projects for Directors Jill Culton, Anthony Stacchi, Roger Allers, Brenda Chapman and the Brizzi Brothers

SONY PICTURES DIGITAL NETWORK - 05/09/2003

As Sony Pictures Animation celebrates its first anniversary this week, Executive Vice Presidents Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox announced the recent addition of directors Jill Culton, Anthony Stacchi, Roger Allers, Brenda Chapman and twin brothers Paul Brizzi and Gaetan Brizzi. In doing so, they bring together a team of fresh voices and dynamic visions to Sony Pictures Animation.

Since their arrival, Finkelman Cox and Rabins have built the division from the ground up, settling into a thriving new animation complex adjacent to Sony Pictures Imageworks and staffing the division with a core development team that wasted no time in identifying a diverse line-up of projects. "We wanted to build a company where talent could explore and realize their visions in a creative and collaborative environment," said Rabins and Finkelman Cox. "Over the past few months, we have been very fortunate to assemble a high-caliber team of directors with a passion for the medium of animation."

"CG animation is a phenomenal way to tell a story," said Yair Landau, Vice Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and President of Sony Pictures Digital. "In less than a year, Penney and Sandy have developed an amazing roster of artists and projects and have made Sony Pictures Animation the studio of choice for visionary filmmakers."

The newly hired directors will focus their attention on the following projects:

Jill Culton will direct and Anthony Stacchi will co-direct the comedy adventure "Open Season." Based on the humor of cartoonist Steve Moore, "Open Season" tells the story of what happens in the wild when the animals scheme to turn the tables on the hunters. The film will be produced by Disney veteran Chris Jenkins ("The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"). John Carls ("Where the Wild Things Are") and Steve Moore brought the project to Sony Pictures Animation, and are serving as executive producers.

Culton comes to Sony from ILM, where she was a key creative person on the development of "Curious George" for Universal. Culton was credited with the original story for "Monsters, Inc," where she served as both Head of Story Development and as Conceptual Artist; she was on the story team for "Toy Story 2," where she is credited with designing the character of "Jessie." Culton's other credits include "A Bug's Life" (Storyboard Artist), "Cats Don't Dance" (Directing Animator), and "Toy Story" (Story).

Joining Culton from ILM as co-director is Anthony Stacchi. Stacchi was brought to ILM to write and develop digital feature content, most recently, "Curious George." Other credits include "Antz" (story artist) and "James and the Giant Peach" (visual effects).

"Jill brings such heart and soul to her work," says Finkelman Cox. "Combined with Tony's sense of story, we have a team that will develop rich characters that audiences will fall in love with."

The script for "Open Season" is being written by Nat Mauldin ("Doctor Doolittle," "The In-Laws, "The Preacher's Wife," "Downtown," "Night Court," "Newhart"). Mauldin is represented by agent Jack Dytman and manager Todd Smith.

Sony Pictures Animation is reuniting Directors Roger Allers ("The Lion King") and Brenda Chapman ("The Prince of Egypt"), whose collaborations included "The Lion King," "Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast." Allers and Chapman will work with internationally acclaimed and best-selling artists Brian and Wendy Froud on "Tam Lin."

Set against the fantastical worlds of the Froud's imaginations, the film is loosely based on the Celtic folk ballad of the same name. Acclaimed fantasy author Neil Gaiman ("Coraline," "Stardust," "Good Omen," "Princess Mononoke") will write the screenplay for "Tam Lin"; Robert Gould will produce; Lois Sarkisian will serve as executive producer. Roger Allers is represented by Peter Nichols and Brenda Chapman is represented by Nancy Newhouse Porter.

"Penney and I are thrilled with the team assembled for this project," said Rabins. "Roger and Brenda will bring a breadth of experience and clarity of vision along with their wonderful storytelling sensibilities to the magical, inspirational worlds created by the Frouds."

Twin brothers Paul Brizzi and Gaetan Brizzi have joined Sony Pictures Animation. The duo won critical praise as the directors of the Firebird sequence in Disney's "Fantasia 2000" and as sequence directors on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

The Brizzi brothers are in the forecast for "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," based on the children's book of the same name by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett. "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" tells the story of a land where food falls from the sky. Wayne Rice ("Dude, Where's My Car," "Lost and Found," "Little Green Men," "Only You") will adapt the screenplay. Rice is represented by Adam Kanter at CAA.

Paul Brizzi and Gaetan Brizzi will also direct and supervise the development of "Surf's Up!" "'Surf's Up!' is a boy-meets-girl-Romeo-and- Juliet story set against the high-energy world of surfing," described Rabins. "But with a little twist," added Finkelman Cox. Christian Darren ("Count Three and Pray," "Six Bullets From Now") is writing the screenplay. Darren is repped by Jeff Okin and Ilan Breil.

"Paul and Gaetan have a lyrical and romantic approach to storytelling," said Finkelman Cox. "They see animation as a pure art form that allows them to create the dreams and push the boundaries of our imagination to tell stories in remarkable, imaginative ways."

The Brizzi's are represented by Nancy Newhouse Porter.

Sony Pictures Animation is also in active development on a feature length version of the Academy Award®-winning short film "The ChubbChubbs" from Sony Pictures Imageworks.

"We are thrilled with the response and interest that 'The ChubbChubbs' has received," said Rabins. "The characters and property are perfect for a full- length film version and we are looking forward to further develop the project."

As Finkelman Cox said last May when Sony Pictures Animation was announced, "Animation is such a great way to create movies that the whole family can enjoy together. These movies are ambitious because they can and should appeal at all levels and ages -- a real cross spectrum of our hearts and imaginations." And as Rabins added, "There are so many wonderful stories ideally suited for this medium and only a handful of companies with the capability to make them."

Negotiations for the projects were handled by Barbara Zipperman, senior vice president, business affairs, Sony Pictures Animation. VP of Development Nate Hopper will collaborate with Rabins and Finkelman Cox on the projects.

About Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation is a division of Sony Pictures Digital. Under the leadership of executives Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox, the division identifies and nurtures fresh voices and dynamic visions for the world of CG animated features for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

About Sony Pictures Digital

Sony Pictures Digital oversees the digital production and online assets of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and consists of four key operating business units: Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Online Entertainment and Sony Pictures Digital Networks which includes SoapCity, Screenblast, Sony Pictures mobile and wireless services, the studio's online promotional arm SPiN, and the UK interactive television service GoPlayTV. By making information and entertainment available anywhere, anytime on any connected device, Sony Pictures Digital is exploring new technology that links hardware with software in ways that advance the current boundaries of the entertainment landscape. For more information please visit www.sonypictures.com

SOURCE: Sony Pictures Digital

CONTACT: Jerry Schmitz of Sony Pictures Animation, +1-310-840-7326,
JSchmitz@sonypictures.com

Web site: http://www.sonypictures.com/

Web site: http://www.spe.sony.com/