You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Par toon division banks on ‘Rango’ success

Eye on the Oscars: Animation

Helen of Troy’s face might have launched a thousand ships, but Rango’s bug-eyed mug triggered the creation of a whole studio division.

Thanks to the success of the Oscar-nominated animated hit that bowed in March, Paramount created a toon division four months later that is finally staffed up and ready to take on the town’s other studio-housed outfits at Fox, Sony, Disney and Universal. In fact, Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment at U proved with its debut sensation, “Despicable Me,” that a young phenom can play on the same field as the veterans.

“The goal is to be a real competitor to the best of the best in terms of quality animated movies,” says Paramount Film Group prexy Adam Goodman, who tapped Disney alum David Stainton to run the division in October. “Family entertainment is near and dear to what we do here.”

The Melrose studio enjoys a long, storied history in the animation sphere, from the kiddie-classic Terrytoon shorts to the more recent adult-skewing features “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” and “Team America: World Police.” Launching an inhouse toon division with a mandate for at least one pic a year with budgets of up to $100 million gave Paramount the opportunity to fill some potential holes left when the studio’s distribution pact with DreamWorks Animation expires at the end of this year (negotiations to renew that deal remain stagnant).

Though Goodman and Stainton say the homegrown division is right on target to bring a frosh offering to the multiplex in 2014, the pair was tight-lipped about any projects in its development coffers beyond a “Tintin” sequel, which is being eyed as a Peter Jackson-helmed vehicle (though it has yet to be greenlit). Stainton says he and his newly assembled creative team, which includes exec VP Bob Bacon and production VPs Jill Gilbert and Annie Laks, are meeting daily with filmmakers in the vein of “Rango” helmer Gore Verbinski who possess bold visions for potential franchises.

“There aren’t many places to go in Hollywood for people who have great animation ideas,” explains Stainton, who also aims to leverage Paramount’s sibling status with smallscreen toon factory Nickelodeon. “The animation community is very excited to have us as an option.”

Still, for all of the critical and commercial love enjoyed by “Rango,” which has earned $245 million worldwide, the division has no intention of bringing the Johnny Depp-voiced protag back to the bigscreen for what would seem a no-brainer sequel.

“At the moment, we have no plans for that,” Goodman says. “We haven’t had any conversations with Gore about doing another ‘Rango.’ Plus, I think he’s pretty busy right now with ‘The Lone Ranger.'”

Rescue efforts get big reward
The Nominees:
“A Cat in Paris” | “Chico & Rita” | “Kung Fu Panda 2” | “Puss in Boots” | “Rango”
Animated Shorts

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

  • Soul Movie

    Pixar's 'Soul' Announces Voice Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey to Star

    Disney debuted a first look at upcoming Pixar film “Soul” at the D23 expo in Anaheim, Calif. and announced its star-studded voice cast. “Soul” imagines that every person on earth comes pre-installed with a soul formed and perfected in a cosmic realm. Jamie Foxx will play a middle-school music teacher on earth who dreams of [...]

  • Emma Stone Variety Actors on Actors

    First Look at Emma Stone in Disney's Live-Action 'Cruella' Drops

    Emma Stone’s Cruella de Vil is significantly more punk rock than her animated counterpart. Stone appeared via video message to debut the first look of the titular character in Disney’s “Cruella” at D23 on Saturday, also revealing that it will take place in the punk rock era of the 1970s. In the first photo, Stone [...]

  • ‘Mulan’ Star Skips D23 Press Amid

    'Mulan' Star Crystal Yifei Liu Skips D23 Amid International Controversy

    Crystal Yifei Liu, the star of Disney’s live action remake of “Mulan,” skipped the press line and Disney panel at Disney’s D23 expo Saturday in the heat of the #BoycottMulan controversy. Unlike the other portions of the Saturday Disney panel, which featured both stars and directors for the other films presented, the “Mulan” panel was [...]

  • Marvel Stars Want Tom Holland's Spider-Man

    Marvel Stars Want to Keep Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the MCU

    Marvel fans aren’t the only ones heartbroken that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man might not be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore. “It really is sad. First off, he’s the greatest Spider-Man to me. He actually has that youthful energy,” Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Scarlet Witch in the MCU, told Variety at D23 on Friday. “He’s been [...]

  • Kit Harington

    'Game of Thrones' Star Kit Harington Joins 'The Eternals'

    Jon Snow is leaving the North. “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington is joining the cast of “The Eternals” as Dane Whitman, also known as the Black Knight, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced Saturday on the main stage at D23. Feige also confirmed Gemma Chan’s appearance in the film as Sersi, another member of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content