It's an interesting time for animation at Paramount. For many years they were the sole distributor of DreamWorks Animation's animated product. After this fall's "Rise of the Guardians" though, that will no longer be the case, leaving DreamWorks to fend for itself (the studio is still figuring out what it's going to do but it's looking like Sony will probably distribute, starting with Chris Sanders' caveman romp "The Croods") and Paramount to look for fresh animated product, following its Best Animated Feature win for last year's "Rango." Well, the studio is releasing more details about its next phase of animation. Oh, and DreamWorks released a new photo from its movie about an F-1 racing snail. Whew.
According to an extensive report in Variety, Paramount is looking to its sister division, Nickelodeon to, in their words, "supply much of the IP." This includes possible big screen versions of "Dora the Explorer," "The Legend of Korra," and "Monkey Quest." (Paramount Animation was a division announced last year.)
But in the more immediate future it means a sequel to "The Spongebob SquarePants Movie." The trade reports that Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who wrote "Kung Fu Panda 2" (we talked to them around the time of that movie's release), are on board to write the seafaring sequel, while Paul Tibbitt, a writer and producer for the show, will produce. The show's creator, Stephen Hillenburg, who rides to the supermarket in a car made of million dollar bills, will executive produce. Mary Parent, a big time live action producer currently wrangling Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" and Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim," will also produce.
Parent and her producing partner Cale Boyter will also oversee the previously announced "New Kid," an adaptation of the Penny Arcade comic book being written by screenwriter and videogame guru Gary Whitta, about a lone earthling at a school full of intergalactic beings.
The Variety report also indicates that the studio has struck a deal for some kind of animated feature from super-producer J.J. Abrams, whose Bad Robot production shingle is housed at the studio. True to form, details have yet to be revealed about that project, but we can assume there is some manner of supernatural hoodoo involved.
The same report states that Viacom CEO Phillippe Dauman wants to keep costs for the animation projects down, after last year's expensive "Rango" didn't make the kind of money that the studio wanted (despite widespread critical acceptance and that coveted Best Animated Feature Oscar). Both Illumination, which produces the "Despicable Me" movies and Blue Sky Studios, the Fox imprint responsible for the "Ice Age" films, keep costs down and have higher profit margins.
Speaking of DreamWorks Animation – another image, courtesy of Bleeding Cool, was just released from its upcoming "Turbo," a movie about a racing snail (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) that is being co-written by Robert Siegel ("The Wrestler"). It shows the titular snail outrunning an F1 racer. The movie is set for release on July 19, 2013. Mark your calenders now.