Paramount animation chief David Stainton resigns


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Four months after he was hired, David Stainton has abruptly resigned as head of Paramount Pictures’ fledgling animation unit, the studio announced Wednesday.

The Viacom Inc.-owned studio said Stainton had left his job for ‘personal reasons,’ and declined to elaborate on the reasons for his departure.


“We are grateful for the time David spent at the studio and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” Adam Goodman, president of Paramount Motion Picture Group, said in a statement.

Goodman will directly oversee the animation development team moving forward, the studio said.

Paramount has been distributing movies from DreamWorks Animation for several years, but that relationship is expected to end when the studios’ seven-year deal expires at the end of this year. The two sides have differed over how much DreamWorks should pay Paramount to distribute its movies.

Separately, DreamWorks last fall tapped former Disney distribution executive Chuck Viane as a consultant to advise it on its various options, including distributing its own movies.

Beginning in 2014, Paramount aims to release one animated feature a year with budgets up to $100 million, developing projects including those from Viacom’s children’s cable TV network Nickelodeon. The studio has released several movies based on Nickelodeon shows such as ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’

Before joining Paramount last October, Stainton spent 17 years at Walt Disney studios, where he rose to president of feature animation and remained in that top role until early 2006 when Disney acquired Pixar Animation Studios. At that time, Pixar’s co-founder, Ed Catmull, and his creative partner, John Lasseter, were put in charge of the Burbank studio’s storied but struggling feature animation division.


Stainton took over Paramount’s animation unit after it launched last year following the release of ‘Rango,’ the critically acclaimed but moderately successful animated movie voiced by Johnny Depp that is nominated for an Oscar for best animated film.

Paramount also helped finance and distribute ‘The Adventures of Tintin,’ a 3-D animated film from director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson, which has grossed $372 million worldwide.


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-- Richard Verrier