No replacement has yet been named
Sony Pictures Digital prexy Yair Landau is ankling the conglom to set up his own animation and vidgame venture.No replacement has been named. Landau will make his official exit in April and will remain as an exec producer on CG toon “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” skedded for release next year. SPD consists of Sony Pictures Animation, visual effects shop Sony Pictures Imageworks and various mobile and online operations. Landau has been president of Sony Pictures Digital for nearly 10 years and with Sony for 17. He told Daily Variety that he approached Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Michael Lynton and co-chair Amy Pascal recently and told them he wanted to leave. “Toward the end of the year, it became clear the businesses were in good shape, and the pieces could stand on their own, and it was time for me to move on,” he said. “I was looking at what was the next thing for me to build.” Landau established Sony Pictures Animation in 2002. SPA is coming off a disappointing stretch in which toon “Surf’s Up” saw a worldwide gross of $149 million — well below the typical returns for a computer-animated feature. Company is working on a direct-to-video sequel to its debut film, “Open Season.” Landau said he is “incredibly proud” of Sony’s animation work. “We did two movies that people liked a lot, one of which (“Surf’s Up”) was nominated for an Academy Award in a competitive field.” Imageworks did the animation work on Robert Zemeckis’ motion capture epic “Beowulf,” which was praised for its technology even as it fizzled at the box office. Landau and Tim Sarnoff are credited with building Imageworks into one of the leading vfx companies in the industry. News of Landau’s departure, however, puts a further cloud over Imageworks, which is up for sale — if Sony can find a buyer. Landau promised a further announcement about his venture in the near future. He said he is joining the boards of several startups, has been approached by venture capitalists and plans to invest in media, entertainment and technology companies.