Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation Inc. is an American animation studio owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment through their Motion Picture Group division and founded on May 9, 2002. The studio's films are distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures Releasing under their Columbia Pictures label, while all direct-to-video releases are released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Sony Pictures Animation Inc.
IndustryComputer animated film industry
FoundedMay 9, 2002 (2002-05-09)
9050 West Washington Boulevard, Culver City, California
Key people
Kristine Belson (president)[1]
Pam Marsden (head of production)[2]
ProductsTheatrical animated short films
Theatrical animated feature films
Television animated series
Number of employees
255 (2018)[3]
ParentSony Pictures Entertainment
(Sony Entertainment)
WebsiteOfficial website

The first Sony Pictures Animation film, Open Season, was released on September 29, 2006. Its latest release was The Angry Birds Movie 2 on August 13, 2019, with their next release currently set to be The Mitchells vs. the Machines on September 18, 2020.


In 2001, Sony Pictures considered selling off its visual effects facility Sony Pictures Imageworks. After failing to find a suitable buyer, having been impressed with the CGI sequences of Stuart Little 2 and seeing the box office successes of DreamWorks Animation's Shrek and Disney/Pixar's Monsters, Inc., SPI was reconfigured to become an animation studio. Astro Boy, which had been in development at Sony since 1997 as a live-action film, was set to be SPI's first all-CGI film, but never made it to fruition.[4] On May 9, 2002, Sony Pictures Animation was established to develop characters, stories and movies with SPI taking over the digital production while maintaining its visual effects production.[5] Meanwhile, SPI produced two short films, the Academy Award-winning The ChubbChubbs! and Early Bloomer, as a result of testing its strengths and weaknesses in producing all-CG animation.[6]

On its first anniversary on May 9, 2003, Sony Pictures Animation announced a full slate of animated projects in development: Open Season, an adaptation of a Celtic folk ballad Tam Lin, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Surf's Up, and a feature-length film version of The ChubbChubbs!.[7]

Its first feature film was Open Season, released in September 2006, which became Sony's second-highest-grossing home entertainment film in 2007 and spawned three direct-to-video sequels. Its second feature film, Surf's Up was released in June 2007, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and won two Annie Awards. A motion-captured animated film titled Neanderthals[8] and written and produced by Jon Favreau, was cancelled sometime in 2008[9] after four years in development. SPA's first 3D movie since the IMAX 3D release of Open Season, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, was released in September 2009 and was nominated for four Annie Awards, including Best Animated Feature. The Smurfs (2011) was the studio's first CGI/live-action hybrid. SPA's parent company Sony Pictures had partnered in 2007 with Aardman Animations to finance, co-produce and distribute feature films.[10] Together, they produced two films: Arthur Christmas (2011), and The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012), which was SPA's first stop-motion film. In September 2012, SPA released Hotel Transylvania, which grossed over $350 million worldwide and launched a successful franchise with two sequels and a TV series. Two sequels are released in 2013: The Smurfs 2 and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. SPA's latest releases are Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, an animated superhero film based on the Spider-Man comics, and The Angry Birds Movie 2, a sequel to the 2016 film The Angry Birds Movie produced by Rovio Animation. SPA has since signed Genndy Tartakovsky to a long-term deal with the studio to develop and direct original films.[11]

The studio is currently working on The Mitchells vs. the Machines, a robot apocalypse/road trip film written and directed by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe while produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (2020),[12][13] Vivo, and Hotel Transylvania 4 (2021), and a sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2022). It has many other projects in development, including an animated Ghostbusters spin-off film,[14][15] an untitled film from Jon Saunders,[16] an R-rated comedy titled Fixed and Black Knight.[17]

On November 3, 2014, the studio collaborated with Frederator Studio's Cartoon Hangover on GO! Cartoons, an incubator series consisting of 12 short films, with at least one short film being developed into a series. The short films were funded by SPA, with the additional goal of attracting new talent for the studio.[18][19]

According to Kristine Belson, president of SPA, the studio produces films on a 1:1 development-to-production ratio, meaning that the studio puts films into development as much as it places films in production, unlike other animation studios.[12]

The studio has plans to produce adult animated content for digital platforms.[12]


In a similar fashion to the Warner Animation Group and Paramount Animation, the studio outsources their films to other animation companies and visual effects studios, with the majority of their films being animated by Sony Pictures Imageworks (its sister company). Some films, such as Arthur Christmas, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, and Wish Dragon, were acquired by Sony Pictures Animation to be released under their banner while others, such as Goosebumps and Peter Rabbit, was made with no involvement with the studio.


NameMoviesFirst releaseLatest release
Open Season4September 29, 2006March 8, 2016
Surf's Up2June 8, 2007January 17, 2017
Cloudy with a Chance of MeatballsSeptember 18, 2009September 27, 2013
The Smurfs3July 29, 2011April 7, 2017
Hotel TransylvaniaSeptember 28, 2012July 13, 2018
Goosebumps2October 16, 2015October 12, 2018
Angry Birds[AB]May 20, 2016August 13, 2019
Peter Rabbit1February 9, 2018
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-VerseDecember 14, 2018
AB Sony Pictures Animation was not involved with the first Angry Birds Movie.

See also


  1. "Kristine Belson Named New President of Sony Pictures Animation". The Hollywood Reporter. January 27, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  2. "Sony Pictures Animation Promotes Pam Marsden to Head of Production". Variety. March 14, 2017. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  3. "Sony Pictures Animation Promotes Pam Marsden to Head of Production". Variety. March 14, 2017. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  4. Brodesser, Claude (December 9, 2001). "Sony finds Rx for its f/x". Variety. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  5. "Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment Establishes Feature Animation Unit; Animation Executives Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox Named to Top Posts" (Press release). May 9, 2002. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  6. Raugust, Karen (May 30, 2006). "The Value of Shorts". Animation World Network. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  7. "Sony Pictures Animation Announces Projects for Directors Jill Culton, Anthony Stacchi, Roger Allers, Brenda Chapman and the Brizzi Brothers Cox Named to Top Posts" (Press release). May 9, 2003. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  8. Adler, Shawn (January 9, 2008). "Jon Favreau Gets Animated For 'Neanderthals'". MTV. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  9. Serrano, Armand (April 19, 2010). "Neanderthals". Armand Serrano Blog. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  10. BBC News (April 2, 2007). "Gromit animators sign Sony deal". BBC News. Retrieved November 7, 2010.
  11. Sony Pictures Animation (July 11, 2012). "Genndy Tartakovsky Signs Overall Deal with Sony Pictures Animation". Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  12. "Annecy: Kristine Belson on Sony Pictures Animation's upcoming slate". Variety Magazine. June 15, 2017. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  13. "Sony Pictures Animation". Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  14. Sneider, Jeff (October 1, 2015). "'Ghostbusters' Animated Movie in the Works at Sony Pictures Animation". The Wrap. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  15. Takao (August 7, 2017). "Ghostbusters: Ecto Force postponed for new film". ToonBarn. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  16. "A List Of American Animated Features Currently In Development". Cartoon Brew. August 10, 2017. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
  17. N'Duka, Amanda (July 25, 2018). "'Hotel Transylvania' Helmer Genndy Tartakovsky Sets New Projects At Sony Pictures Animation". Deadline. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  18. Milligan, Mercedes (November 3, 2014). "Sony Partners with Cartoon Hangover to Find New Talent". Animation Magazine. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  19. Milligan, Mercedes (November 7, 2017). "Sony Animation & Cartoon Hangover Launch 1st Incubator Film 'The Summoning'". Animation Magazine. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
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