Following Yair Landaus announcement this week that he is departing as president of Sony Pictures Digital, Sony moved quickly to regroup and proclaim that any contemplated sale of its vfx and animation units is now off the table. Bob Osher has been promoted to president of the newly named Digital Production division (comprised of Sony Pictures Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation), and Hannah Minghella has been upped to president of production at Animation, replacing SEVP Sandra Rabins, who will continue working with the division as a producer. Minghella and Sony Pictures Imageworks President Tim Sarnoff will report to Osher.
Meanwhile, the studio yesterday announced that Sony Online Ent., once part of Sony Pictures Digital, will move to Sony Computer Ent.
Osher joined Sony Pictures in 2004, and has been COO of the Columbia Pictures Motion Picture Group, overseeing operations, business affairs and production related film financing. Osher will continue to have oversight over his current areas of responsibility within the Motion Picture Group.
Minghella, daughter of director Anthony Minghella, currently serves as director of creative affairs for Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal, a position she has held since 2005. Minghella worked with the production team at Columbia Pictures on such films as CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE. She recently was responsible for helping to bring the spy-thriller film project, EDWIN A. SALT, to Columbia. Born in England, Minghella received her Masters Degree in English Literature from Cambridge University, where she also was president of the Pembroke College committee.
"Bob's unique blend of experience in production and finance, along with his strong background in animation, make him superbly qualified to lead our Digital Production division," said Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton. "Staying ahead of the vast technological changes occurring in our industry has been a priority for Sony Pictures, and I know Bob will continue to make our fantastic visual effects and animation businesses grow."
"I'm very excited about getting back into the creative side of the business, which has been a big part of my career. I'm especially thrilled to be working with Tim Sarnoff and Hannah Minghella, along with the world class team of people who work at Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation," said Osher.
"Hannah is one of the most intelligent and creative people I've worked with, and I know from first-hand experience how capable she is in dealing with a wide range of some of the most complex issues we confront in this business," added Pascal. "For the past three years, she's been a key part of my team, actively engaged in our creative process every step of the way. She's going to do a great job working in concert with the incredibly accomplished team of writers, artists and all who make Sony Pictures Animation such an exciting part of this studio."
"I am so grateful to Amy and Michael for this wonderful opportunity. Animation is such a pure and boundless medium for storytelling and I'm excited to start working with the extraordinary group of innovative artists and filmmakers at Sony Pictures Animation," said Minghella. "Together we're going to continue to build on Sony Pictures Animation's reputation as a home for the best, brightest and most imaginative minds in the animation business. I'm especially happy to be going on this adventure with Bob who has been a part of my journey from the beginning."
Sony Pictures also has a deal with Aardman Features to produce animated films for the studio. Aardman, which is based in the UK, is known worldwide for such films as WALLACE AND GROMMIT and CHICKEN RUN.
Osher previously served as co-president of production at Miramax Films for more than six years, where he oversaw the production of the Academy Award Best Picture winners SHAKESPEAR IN LOVE and CHICAGO and served as exec producer of several films, including Minghellas COLD MOUNTAIN. He also was involved in overseeing an animated television series for Miramax.
He previously was co-founder and EVP of the Turner Pictures Group, which included co-running Turner Feature Animation, which worked closely with its sister company, the legendary Hannah-Barbera Prods.
Osher worked for Walt Disney Studios between 1989 and 1995, where he rose to be SVP in charge of business and legal affairs for Walt Disney and Touchstone Pictures, as well as Disney's feature animation business. He is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Motion Picture and Television Fund, and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, from which he earned two Emmy nominations as exec producer on PROJECT GREENLIGHT. Osher also sits on the Board of Councilors for the University of Southern California's College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. He is a board member on the Alumni Council of the School of Cinematic Arts at USC, and an adjunct professor for the school, teaching at the graduate level.
Minghella spent four years at Miramax Films in New York, where among other projects she worked on FINDING NEVERLAND. She was the creative executive for Meryl Poster (Poster and Bob Osher were co-presidents of production). Minghella left Miramax to help Steven Shainberg start Vox 3 Films, an independent production company. On the recommendation of Osher, Pascal brought Minghella to Sony Pictures.