WB’s Howard to join DreamWorks

Exec leaves after three years to pursue ani pic

Max Howard is resigning his post as president of Warner Bros. feature animation after nearly three years on the job and signing on at DreamWorks to produce an animated film, according to sources at the studios.

Howard presided over WB’s Glendale-based feature animation unit during the production and release of its first fully-animated project, “Quest for Camelot.”

Howard came to Warners in July 1995, following a nine-year stint at the Walt Disney Co., where he’d most recently held the post of senior VP of administration and planning animation. Among his accomplishments at Disney was the establishment of new Disney animation facilities in Orlando, Fla., and Paris.

Sources said Howard had long desired to get out of studio administration and into animated feature production.

DreamWorks, however, did not release details of the motion picture project Howard will produce there.

Before entering the animation industry, Howard had a successful theater career in his native England, starting as a child actor, and maturing into numerous other aspects of the business, including stage manager and producer.

Following “Quest’s” disappointing B.O. performance — about $19 million in domestic cume, in its first three weeks of release — Warners’ feature animation division faces an uncertain future. The unit is preparing its second project, “The Iron Giant,” for a possible 1999 release. Pic, directed by Brad Bird, is about metal giant who falls to Earth in a small town in Maine in the 1950s, where he’s distrusted by everyone but a small boy who befriends him.

Warners’ feature animation division had a hit with “Space Jam,” its first project. The 1996 animated/live-action feature starred Chicago Bulls basketball great Michael Jordan, and grossed $90 million domestically. The animated portion of “Jam” was produced by the WB feature animation group.