With the announcement of David Stainton’s resignation following a short tenure as head of Paramount’s fledgling animated film division, the question becomes: With no films yet slated for release, where does it go from here?
Four months after hiring the former Disney feature animation president, Paramount announced Wednesday that Stainton would be leaving for personal reasons, adding that Paramount Motion Picture Group prexy Adam Goodman will take charge of the animation development team.
“We are grateful for the time David spent at the studio and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” Goodman said in a statement.
Paramount hired Stainton in October to head its new in-house animation division, which was announced last July after “Rango” — its first animated pic not produced by DreamWorks Animation — grossed more than $240 million worldwide.
At the time, the news was seen in part as a negotiating tactic with DWA, whose distribution deal with Paramount was set to expire at the end of 2012. Both parties asserted that the division would have no affect on negotiations — which weren’t even supposed to begin until early 2012. But sources outside the studio saw the initiative as leverage that Paramount could bring to the table.
The initial plan for the new division was to release one pic a year beginning in 2014. Though no film has yet been slated for release, studio has said several viable projects are in the works, including an adaptation of the graphic novel “New Kid.”
Sources say Paramount chairman and CEO Brad Grey has made it clear to staff that Stainton’s departure will not affect the division’s development timeline, which calls for its first pic to unspool in 2014.
Goodman now takes control of a division to which he’s always remained close; he was a big part of getting “Rango” and “The Adventures of Tintin” off the ground. Insiders add that while some version of Stainton’s position will probably be eventually replaced, the plan for now is to continue to build the staff so that Goodman, who retains his duties as group prexy, is not overloaded.
Prior to joining Paramount, Stainton had served as president of Walt Disney Features Animation, leaving after Dick Cook’s departure.