Sony Pics explores possible investment

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Sony Picture Entertainment has retained investment bank Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin to place a value on Sony Pictures Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation. The company is exploring possible investment, prompted by an expression of interest.

Said Jim Kennedy, senior vp corporate communications for Sony Pictures Entertainment: "As we have in other areas of our business, we are open to exploring equity partnerships, and it's no surprise that there is market interest in our visual effects and animation businesses. Having worked on everything from "Spider-Man" and "Superman" to "Polar Express" and "Beowulf," Imageworks is one of the most respected visual effects studios in the industry. Sony Pictures Animation has produced two critically acclaimed films, and we continue to maintain a strong commitment to making animated movies going forward."

Sony Pictures Animation, which recently completed "Surf's Up," has announced upcoming features "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, slated for March 2009; and "Hotel Translvannia," which is scheduled to open later that year.

Visual effects business Imageworks, the company behind the visual effects in the "Spider-Man" films, just completed Robert Zemeckis' "Beowulf." In the works is the December release "I Am Legend," starring Will Smith. It is also slated to complete visual effects on 2008 release "Hancock," a Sony Pictures release also starring Smith.

The Culver City-headquartered company also maintains Imageworks India and is building a site in Albuquerque.
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