DreamWorks Animation isn’t the only company to have some major managerial shakeups.
Deadline recently reported that Michelle Raimo Kouyate has stepped down as President of Production at Sony Pictures Animation.
During her four years in this position, she oversaw development and production on a number of films, including Hotel Transylvania, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and the two live-action/CG hybrid Smurfs films.
However, despite stepping down she will still remain at Sony Pictures Animation, albeit under a different capacity.
According to an article by Animation News Network (and stemming from a report by The Hollywood Reporter), Kouyate will be transitioning to a first-look producing deal with the studio. The deal will encompass both animation and live-action projects at Sony.
It’s also been revealed that as part of her deal, she has stepped on board as a producer for the Lauren Faust-directed upcoming animated film Medusa.
Interestingly enough, Kouyate cited Medusa as a catalyst for why she was stepping down: “I’ve been thinking about it for a while and when I was working on Medusa, it started to bring up the feelings of really being back in the game,” Kouyate told The Hollywood Reporter. “And there comes a time on an animated project when you just need to get a producer on it, when it hits a stage where it’s story boarding and moving to the next level. So I thought if there was ever a time to do it, now was it.”
She then praises Sony Animation and expresses her excitement for the future: “Sony Pictures Animation is an incredible place with talented artists and creative people. I am totally confident that great things will continue to come out of it and I’m so excited that I will be a part of it.”
Lauren Faust also commented on Kouyate’s newfound role as the sole producer for the project, stating: “One of the main reasons why I was attracted to Medusa was the opportunity to work with Michelle. She’s the one who brought this project to me and her passion for it, her love of story telling and her regard for artists is what brought me to Sony. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her formally come on board as the producer on Medusa as I could not think of a better person for this role.”
Another reason (more a rumor) as to why Kouyate stepped down was supposedly due to an email that was leaked during the recent Sony hacking scandal. This rumored email revealed that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were approached with the preposition of handing the animation division with a ‘brain trust’ set up similar to those of Pixar and Warner Animation Group (this story will be covered in further detail in a future What You Missed article).
Prior to joining Sony Animation in 2010, Kouyate previously held production and development roles at DreamWorks Animation and was the executive producer of Puss in Boots.
She has also overseen the transition of a new head of production for Sony Animation. Stay tuned for news on who that person is.
What do you think? Are her reasons for stepping down justified?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes