Vanessa Morrison, longtime head of Twentieth Century Fox Film’s animation division, is moving into a new role at the studio. She has been named president of Fox Family, a newly created division that will develop films aimed at younger moviegoers and their parents. They include both animated films and films with live action elements. Her appointment is effective immediately, and she will report to Chairman and CEO Stacey Snider and Vice Chairman Emma Watts. Fox said it will announce a replacement for Morrison in the coming days.
The move comes as Snider is shaking up Fox’s animation arm with the goal of releasing at least one animated film a year. Snider recently signed a multi-year production deal with Locksmith Animation. The goal is to augment the films that Blue Sky, the makers of the “Ice Age” series, creates for Fox. The studio owns Blue Sky. Snider believes that animated releases are an increasingly popular genre and that Fox needs to be a bigger player in the space. There’s certainly a lot of competition. Disney continues to dominate the market thanks to its Pixar division, Warner Bros. and Sony have upped their number of family releases, and Universal’s parent company Comcast made the decision in 2016 to shell out $3.8 billion to buy DreamWorks Animation.
In addition to her movie work, Morrison will also oversee the studio’s family animated television business. That division makes holiday television specials based on existing film properties. Fox is also making film features based on its small-screen efforts, such as a “Bob’s Burgers” film. Morrison will oversee those productions, as well.
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“Vanessa has for many years championed the studio’s efforts to take a more wholistic approach to the family entertainment space, and this new role will empower her to execute on that goal,” Snider and Watts said in a joint statement. “We are thrilled to have her leading this initiative, and as this segment in the marketplace continues to grow, the creation of this new division will strengthen our footprint as we look to create the best possible films for families across our entire company.”
Morrison has headed up Fox Animation since 2007. In addition to the “Ice Age” franchise, Morrison oversaw the production of the likes of the “Rio” films, “Peanuts,” and “Book of Life.” She also worked on “Ferdinand,” Fox’s next animated release, which hits theaters in November.