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Paramount Firing Up Animated 'SpongeBob' & J.J. Abrams Projects

by
August 17, 2012
Source: Variety

Paramount Animated

Big news on the animation front. Variety reports that Paramount Pictures is ramping up its animation division/developments, and getting a number of projects into the production phase. SlashFilm first caught our eye with this report, as they mention that one of the new projects might be produced by none other than J.J. Abrams. The report mentions, among many other details, that the "studio has hired seven scribes to tackle projects, some of which Mary Parent and J.J. Abrams are shepherding." Seven people for multiple animation projects, including another SpongeBob and potentially even Legend of Korra, or so they claim.

Paramount, beyond distributing the DreamWorks Animation movies, has been working on building up Paramount Animation. The first big one was last year's Rango, which went on to justifiably win the Best Animated Oscar. That must've lit a flame under them, as Variety makes it sound like they're really moving forward with a whole bunch of fun stuff. Don't forget, Paramount is owned by the same company that owns Nickelodeon, so they've got their stuff to work with, too. It sounds like they're trying to turn Paramount Animation into something that could rival DreamWorks: "The division is also trying to spark development with on-the-lot filmmakers who have no prior animation experience -- Parent and Abrams among them."

So what are these projects? Well, one of them is The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 2, which landed its writers. They are Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who wrote Kung Fu Panda 2. They've also attached Paul Tibbitt, a writer/producer for the "SpongeBob" TV show, to direct, plus Stephen Hillenburg executive producing with Mary Parent (Role Models, Pacific Rim, Noah). Another one of the projects is New Kid, being developed by Parent and Cale Boyter. It's an adaptation of Penny Arcade comic strip (read it here) that is being adapted by Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli, After Earth). Those are the only two projects we know much about, unfortunately "details of Abrams' project have yet to be revealed." Anyone know any?

For those, like me, who are big fans of Nick's The Legend of Korra or The Last Airbender, here's that tidbit:

"To start filling a pipeline, Paramount chief Brad Grey is turning to sister division Nickelodeon to supply much of the IP. Though development has not begun yet, possible Nickelodeon products that could be turned into films include Dora the Explorer, The Legend of Korra and Monkey Quest. Company boasts a strong consumer products, travel and resorts biz to boost future pics' earnings potential."

I wish we could speculate, but all of that is so vague I'm not even sure where to start. Paramount Motion Picture Group president Adam Goodman states: "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." Indeed, but at the same time a name or concept isn't too much to reveal at this point, I think. He explains: "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." Hopefully to excellent results.

For now, we'll have to wait for more details with nothing much to go on. New Kid sounds awesome, not only because it's from Penny Arcade, but because of the concept - which revolves around one human boy at an alien school being the "new kid". We'll definitely keep watch for updates on all of these. I don't know about everyone else, but I quite enjoyed Rango, it was quite a beautiful film and I'm glad it got the Oscar. I hope they can continue to produce great animated films like that, no matter how long they take to come together.

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