Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment Establishes Feature Animation Unit; Animation Executives Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox Named to Top Posts


Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox have been named to head a newly created feature animation unit within Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment, it was announced today by Yair Landau, president of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment.

Rabins and Cox will be responsible for the development and production of all-CG animated features and will report to Landau. The establishment of this new unit enables the studio to tap into the vast imagination of the creative community, develop properties that are best realized through digital production and bring entertainment for audiences of all ages to the screen.

"This new generation of animation is creatively and financially significant in the opportunities it presents," said John Calley, CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. "Yair Landau deserves enormous credit for building Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment into a top-notch organization ideally positioned to attract talent of Sandra and Penney's caliber. We are delighted that they have chosen to make their home here."

In establishing the feature animation unit, the team will work closely with SPDE's Imageworks division, which will maintain its premier as it extends its animation capability into the production of all-CG features while maintaining its premier visual effects business. Rabins and Cox will collaborate with Columbia Pictures creative executives.

"The future of the entertainment industry clearly includes a healthy and progressive animation business, and we are approaching our expansion into original all-CG feature animation with the same level of commitment the studio exhibited by building Imageworks into an industry leader," said Yair Landau, President of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment. "Sandy and Penney are, quite simply, the most talented team in CG animation production. Their track record speaks for itself."

"I am excited that Sandy and Penney are joining us. They have an exceptional story sense that is a key ingredient to a successful all-CG feature," said Tim Sarnoff, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Imageworks. "Beginning with 'Stuart Little' and continuing over the past several years, Imageworks has steadily advanced its digital character creation, earning accolades and Academy Award® nominations for its artists."

Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkleman Cox most recently served as executive producers on the computer animated hit comedy "Shrek" the blockbuster box office hit of 2001 and winner of the first Academy Award® for best animated film. The two joined DreamWorks in February of 1994 to start the Animation Division and produce "The Prince of Egypt." They focused on the creative development of animation material at DreamWorks and were also instrumental in transforming commercials visual effects house, PDI, into a feature film facility for DreamWorks' and executive produced their first computer-generated movie, "Antz".

"Animation is such a great way to create movies that the whole family can enjoy together," said Penney Finkelman Cox. "These movies are ambitious because they can and should appeal at all levels and ages -- a real cross spectrum of our hearts and imaginations. Precisely because of that depth, they take a great deal of care and time to develop and produce properly."

"There are so many wonderful stories ideally suited for this medium and only a handful of companies with the capability to make them," Sandra Rabins observed. "This is a wonderful base from which to build this unit. Talent now has a new outlet."

Attorney Harley Williams negotiated the deal in conjunction with Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Julie Kane-Ritsch of AMG Animation.

Born and raised in Hollywood, Rabins began her career at Paramount Pictures, serving as a production accountant on many projects including "Terms of Endearment." In 1985 she moved to Walt Disney Studios, where she remained until 1993, achieving the title of Senior Vice President of Production and Finance for Buena Vista Pictures. During her tenure at Disney she was responsible for establishing the production entities to create and animate "Roger Rabbit" in England, Tim Burton's "The Nightmare before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach" in San Francisco. She was also instrumental in helping Pixar establish itself as a digital film entity to create "Toy Story". She left Disney in 1993 to executive produce "Dangerous Mind."

In addition to their producing responsibilities, Rabins and Cox both fulfilled executive roles at DreamWorks from 1994 to 2001. Rabins was responsible for the preparation of the studio business plan (television, animation, theatrical, distribution, marketing and music). She helped to establish the animation and interactive divisions while producing DreamWorks first animated film. Cox worked with Aardman Animation on its first stop-motion animated feature, "Chicken Run" and served as the executive producer on DreamWorks' first direct-to-video animated release, "Joseph: King of Dreams."

Penney Finkelman Cox came to animation from a background in live-action production. Her feature producing credits include: "Honey I Shrunk the Kids," "Welcome Home, Roxie Carmichael" and "Till There Was You". She served as executive producer for James L. Brooks on "I'll Do Anything" and co-produced two other films for Brooks: "Broadcast News" and the Oscar® winning "Terms of Endearment."

Born in Havertown, Pennsylvania, Cox made her entrance into the performing arts as a press assistant for the Joffrey Ballet, and did a training internship with the National Endowment for the Arts. She segued into film production with her acceptance into the Directors Guild of America producer Training Program in New York.

About Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment

Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment (SPDE), an operating unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), oversees the activities of SPE's digital production and online assets including Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Online Entertainment, the Digital Networks Division which includes SoapCity and Screenblast, and SPIN, which represents the studio's online promotional presence. SPDE focuses on three areas: 1) producing and developing visual effects and computer-generated imaging (CGI), digital character animation, and original content for motion picture, television, online and PlayStation audiences; 2) developing new forms of online content, games and interactive programming; and 3) leading SPE's efforts to provide online, open-access video-on-demand, interactive television and wireless entertainment.

About Sony Pictures Imageworks

Sony Pictures Imageworks is an award-winning state-of-the-art visual effects and animation company dedicated to the art and artistry of digital production. Its most recent projects include "Spider-Man," "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Stuart Little," "Cast Away," "What Lies Beneath," and the upcoming "Stuart Little 2," "Men in Black II," "I Spy," and "Charlie's Angels 2."

About Sony Pictures Entertainment

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a division of Sony Corporation of America (SCA), a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; digital content creation and distribution; worldwide channel investments; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of filmed entertainment in 67 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at .


SOURCE: Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment

Contact: Don Levy of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment,