UPDATED: Veteran Warner Bros. executive Chris deFaria will become the new president of DreamWorks Feature Animation Group, continuing the remake of the cartoon studio since its purchase by Comcast last April, Universal Pictures confirmed Tuesday.
In the new position, deFaria “will oversee all aspects of the studio’s feature animation business, including slate strategy, development, production, innovation and technology, and business affairs,” said an announcement from Universal.
DeFaria will report to Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley and also work closely with Universal Pictures President Jimmy Horowitz.
DeFaria, who has been president of animation and technical innovation at Warner, takes the top spot at DreamWorks, once held by DreamWorks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who moved into a new media post with Comcast’s NBCUniversal following the conglomerate’s $3.8 billion purchase.
The news comes after the news last month that Mireille Soria was stepping down as co-president of DreamWorks Animation, a post she held alongside Bonnie Arnold. The duo, in turn, had replaced Ann Daly running the day-to-day operations of the toon studio.
After a massive payout with the sale of DWA, Katzenberg took on a new role as chairman of DreamWorks New Media, which oversees the studio’s Awesomeness TV and NOVA.
Langley lauded deFaria for his “excellent creative instincts, a strong business sense, deep relationships, and most importantly, a proven ability to harness technology to push the boundaries of animation and innovative, hybrid filmmaking.” She noted that Chris Meledandri, leader of Uni’s Illumination animation operation, will act as a “senior adviser.”
DeFaria called the new position “the opportunity of a lifetime.” He had been at Warner Bros. for 20 years, starting as vice president of physical production. In 2006, he was named executive vice president of digital production and animation, where he managed animation projects and visual effects-intensive films.
His credits include more CGI-driven features than pure animated films, including “Gravity,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Happy Feet Two,” and “Sucker Punch.” He also played a role in the “Lego” movies.