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

Feb 19, 2004, 00:00 ET from Sony Pictures Animation

    CULVER CITY, Calif., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- 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
     "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
     "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
     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 .
     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 .
      For further information contact:
      Steve Elzer
      Senior Vice President, Media Relations
      Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group
      (310) 244-7142

SOURCE Sony Pictures Animation