Paramount Pictures is in the process of ramping up their animation department, which has been pretty quiet over the last year. Most of the animated films they have distributed come from DreamWorks Animation, but they are currently in talks to move to another studio such as Sony or Fox. With DreamWorks leaving, Paramount has planned a strategy to start developing their own animated film projects with Nickelodeon.
The studio has also recently hired seven screenwriters to start writing projects for them. Some of these projects will be developed by Mary Parent and J.J. Abrams. There's no word on what Abrams is working on but according to Variety, producing partner Cale Boyter is overseeing a film called the New Kid, which is an adaptation of Penny Arcade's comic that is being written by Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli). It's about a lone earthling in a school for aliens.
The studio is currently working on a sequel to the SpongeBob SquarePants movie, which is set to be released some time in 2014. Series writer and director Paul Tibbit will be directing the movie. They've hired Kung Fu Panda 2 scribes Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger to write a sequel to Gore Verbinski's Rango.
Paramount is also relying heavily on Nickelodeon to help fill out the pipeline of film. We could see movies adapted from Dora the Explorer, The Legend of Korra and Monkey Quest. The studio is also reaching out to filmmakers on the lot who have no prior experience in animation, like Abrams.
The studio is looking to keep the budgets around $100 million for the projects that Paramount Animation will be developing. Paramount Motion Picture Group prexy Adam Goodman had this to say in a statement,
In comparison to other animation houses, we utilize a smaller staff and have a less rigid structure and operation, which we think makes us more flexible and nimble. It's an approach that is consistent with our overall culture.
He goes on to explain they will do be keeping many of their project underwraps due to competition in the animated world explaining,
The longer-than-average development time for animated films requires some level of secrecy to ensure the kind of original ideas being developed here are protected, so holding back on specific announcements enables us to reveal projects when they are further along in the creative process.
Some of the other notable films Paramount has help developed are Rugrats, Jimmy Neutron, and more recent films such as The Adventures of Tintin and Rango.
I'm looking forward to seeing what Paramount Animation will be bringing us, but as a fan of Abram's work, I'm very interested in seeing how he handles an animated feature. Hopefully the upcoming animated films they're developing will be better than most of the films they've made in the past, because some of them have been pretty bad.