Paramount announces new in-house animation unit

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 13: Jack Black arrives at the Australian premiere of 'Kung Fu Panda 2,' distributed by Paramount but produced by Dreamworks. Paramount is now announcing the creation of its own animation division.

It's a first for Paramount: A modern-day animation unit. Paramount says it is planning to spend up to $100 million to produce its own animated features.

Paramount chief Brad Grey says an in-house animation unit is part of the studio's long-term growth strategy, and for good reason: There's money to be made. "Kung Fu Panda 2" — which was distributed by Paramount but produced by Dreamworks — has taken in half a billion dollars.

That's been the way that Paramount has been handling animation: Do the distribution but not the production. But back in March, the studio released "Rango," its first fully owned computer-generated animation release, which earned $240 million.

Paramount's new animation unit is expected to produce at least one film a year, with its first animated feature expected in 2014. The head of the animation team will be a key to its success. So far, Paramount hasn't said who that will be.

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