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Sony Pictures Animation Begins Production on First Full-Length CGI Film 'Open Season' Starring Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher and Debra Messing

Posted - Mar. 4, 2004 at 9:20 a.m.



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CULVER CITY, Calif., Feb 19, 2004 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Sony Pictures Animation, a division of Sony Pictures Digital, is set to begin production on its first feature length CGI motion picture, "Open Season." The announcement was made today by Yair Landau, Vice-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and president of Sony Pictures Digital.

"Open Season" will feature the vocal talents of Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher and Debra Messing. In a classic, mismatched comedic pairing, "Open Season" tells the story of a 900 pound domesticated Grizzly bear named Boog (Lawrence) and a scrawny, one-horned mule deer named Elliot (Kutcher), stranded together in the woods during hunting season. Boog and Elliot must work together to rally the animals of the forest and turn the tables on the hunters. Messing will voice the character of Beth, a forest ranger who rescued Boog as a cub and raised him. "Open Season" is inspired by the humor of syndicated cartoonist Steve Moore (In the Bleachers). Moore will serve as executive producer along with John Carls.

Sony Pictures Animation was established in May, 2002, and is led by Executive Vice Presidents Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox. "Open Season" will be the division's first release, scheduled for distribution in 2006.

"Penney and Sandy have assembled a team of outstanding, innovative filmmakers," said Landau. "Open Season is just the first in a slate of technologically and artistically compelling features from Sony Pictures Animation."

"In casting the characters of Boog, Elliot and Beth, we knew we had to find actors with great comedic timing," said Rabins and Finkelman Cox. "Boog is a domesticated bear who has the town wired and Elliot is a fast-talking misfit. In Martin and Ashton, we've found a comedic duo who will truly bring to life the personalities of Boog and Elliot. Debra will bring to the character of Beth such heart and warmth, at the same time providing her own unique wit and humor."

"Open Season" is directed by Jill Culton, with Anthony Stacchi serving as co-Director. Culton was credited with the original story for "Monsters, Inc," where she served as both Head of Story Development and as Conceptual Artist; she was on the story team for "Toy Story 2," where she is credited with designing the character of Jessie. Culton's other credits include "A Bug's Life" (Storyboard Artist), "Cats Don't Dance" (Directing Animator), and "Toy Story" (Story). Stacchi most recently was part of the development team on Curious George. Other credits include "Antz" (Story artist) and "James and the Giant Peach" (visual effects).

The digital animation will be provided by Sony Pictures Imageworks, currently in production on the highly anticipated CGI adaptation of the beloved children's book, "The Polar Express," with Robert Zemeckis; and "Spider-Man 2," the sequel to the 2002 blockbuster film "Spider-Man." Imageworks produced last year's Academy Award(R)-winning animated short film, "The ChubbChubbs."

Martin Lawrence is one of America's most popular actor/comedians, having made his mark in both film and television. He recently starred in Columbia Pictures hit action film "Bad Boys II" and "National Security" as well as his one-man stand-up comedy feature "Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat." In addition, he starred in such box-office hits as "Big Momma's House," which he also executive produced, "Blue Streak," the original "Bad Boys" co-starring Will Smith and "Life" opposite Eddie Murphy.

Additional film credits include "Black Knight," "What's The Worst That Can Happen?" with Danny DeVito, "Nothing To Lose" with Tim Robbins, "Boomerang" also with Eddie Murphy, the "House Party" films, Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" and "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate," in which he not only starred but also co-wrote and directed.

Kutcher, currently starring in the psychological thriller "The Butterfly Effect," is one of Hollywood's fastest rising stars. He first achieved recognition on the popular comedy series "That 70s Show." His motion picture credits include "Just Married" and "Dude, Where's My Car?" Upcoming for Kutcher are "The Dinner Party" and "Alot Like Love." Kutcher created and produced the hit MTV series "Punk'd."

Messing is an Emmy Award-winning actress currently in her sixth season on NBC's "Will & Grace," for which she has earned an Emmy Award for Best Actress and three nominations, four Golden Globe nominations, two SAG nominations and two American Comedy Award nominations for her portrayal of Grace. She recently starred in the hit comedy "Along Came Polly" and most recently completed shooting the lead role in the romantic comedy entitled "Something Borrowed" opposite Dermot Mulroney. She also lent her vocal talents to the animated release "Garfield: The Movie," in which Bill Murray is the voice of Garfield.

Messing co-starred in Woody Allen's comedy "Hollywood Ending" opposite Woody Allen and Tea Leoni and in "The Mothman Prophecies" opposite Richard Gere. Additional film credits include Alfonso Arau's "A Walk in the Clouds" and Woody Allen's "Celebrity." Her television credits include the four-hour CBS mini-series, "Jesus," the ABC thriller "Prey," the Fox comedy "Ned & Stacey," "NYPD Blue" and "Seinfeld."

About Sony Pictures Digital

Sony Pictures Digital (SPD), an operating unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) oversees the activities of SPE's digital production and online assets. Sony Pictures Digital consists of four key operating business units: Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Online Entertainment and Sony Pictures Digital Networks, which is focused on mobile entertainment, broadband video delivery and personal media software and services. By making information and entertainment available anywhere, anytime on any enabled device, Sony Pictures Digital is exploring new technology that links hardware with software in ways that advance the current boundaries of the entertainment landscape. For more information please visit www.sonypictures.com .

About Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures, part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company. 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 http://www.sonypictures.com .

For further information contact:

Steve Elzer

Senior Vice President, Media Relations

Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group

(310) 244-7142

steve_elzer@spe.sony.com

SOURCE Sony Pictures Animation

CONTACT: Steve Elzer, Senior Vice President, Media Relations of Columbia 

TriStar Motion Picture Group, +1-310-244-7142, steve_elzer@spe.sony.com , for 

Sony Pictures Animation 

URL: http://www.sonypictures.com http://www.prnewswire.com 

Copyright (C) 2004 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.

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