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Why this animation exec took a chance on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and won an Oscar and $375 million at the box office

For seeing the opportunity in more inclusive casting and a daring visual style, Sony animation chief Kristine Belson is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People of 2019.

Why this animation exec took a chance on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and won an Oscar and $375 million at the box office
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]
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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse wasn’t the kind of film that most new studio heads bet on. The superhero’s hold on audiences had been weakening for a decade, and the film’s proposed mix of old-school animation and CGI was a creative and technological gamble. But Kristine Belson, a DreamWorks Animation and Jim Henson Company vet who became president of Sony Pictures Animation in 2015, was drawn to the project precisely because of its “risky” elements, from an Afro-Latin lead to psychedelic visuals. She also believed in its message of inclusion: “To be successful, we need to pre­sent the global audience with different kinds of heroes, [ones who] reflect their reality,” Belson says. She championed the project and made resources available to a crew of more than 800 animators and engineers, who broke “all the systems they’d created for their last animated film,” she says. The December 2018 release has grossed $375 million globally—and won the Oscar for best animated feature.

About the author

Nicole LaPorte is an LA-based senior writer for Fast Company who writes about where technology and entertainment intersect. She previously was a columnist for The New York Times and a staff writer for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and Variety

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