Doug Sweetland -- a 16 year veteran at Pixar Animation studios -- is making his directorial debut with Sony Pictures Animation's The Familiars.
The animated film will be based on the just-published children's book by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson. The story centers on three young wizard apprentices who are taken hostage by an evil queen. They are forced to rely on their animal companions, or "familiars," for help -- an alley cat, a blue jay, and a tree frog.
The director, who's short film Presto was nominated for an Academy Award this past year, has worked as an animator on Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, and Finding Nemo. He also served on the staff for Cars and The Incredibles and won three Annie Awards for his work on Monsters, Nemo, and Toy Story 2.
This is great news for Sony, which gains an experienced animator who has been a part of some of the biggest films of the past fifteen years. One has to wonder why Sweetland jumped ship, though, as Pixar is known for holding on to its employees for life. Perhaps he vied for the top spot on one of the company's developing projects and never got his shot? Or perhaps Pixar offered him a directing job on a project he wasn't interested in? Whatever the case may be, Pixar has finally seen some real competition over the last two years, with Sony's Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and Universal's Despicable Me pulling in big numbers. Still, with its last film sitting pretty at over $1 billion worldwide, I doubt that the Mouse House's CGI division has much to worry about.
Source: Hollywood Reporter