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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

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]


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.

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