Penney Finkelman Cox, a veteran animation executive who helped launch Sony Pictures’ foray into animation, is stepping down to become a producer for the division, the company announced Friday.
The management shake-up follows mounting tensions between Finkelman Cox and Yair Landau, vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, over creative control of the animation division.
With the changes, Landau will be directly in charge of creative decision-making in the animation group while continuing in his role as president of Sony Pictures Digital.
Finkelman Cox’s longtime partner, Sandra Rabins, will remain executive vice president of the animation unit and report to Landau.
The changes come at a delicate time for Sony, which faces stiff competition in the crowded computer-animation market.
Landau was unavailable for comment, but in a statement he praised Finkelman Cox.
“We value the enormous contributions Penney made to launch this new division and look forward to her creative voice in an area where she has distinguished herself,” Landau said.
Finkelman Cox declined to comment but said in a statement that, having built a roster of animated movies at Sony, she was ready to “return to my true passion, creative producing.”
Finkelman Cox spent several years as a producer and executive producer of animated and live-action movies before joining Sony in 2002. Her credits include DreamWorks’ “Shrek” and Walt Disney Co.'s “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”
At Sony, Finkelman Cox and Rabins have spent the last 4 1/2 years assembling top talent, including “Lion King” director Roger Allers, to build a pipeline of animated movies.
Their first film, “Open Season,” was considered a moderate success, grossing $187 million in box-office receipts worldwide.
Sony will release “Surf’s Up” in June and has two films in production: “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and “Hotel Transylvania.”