Sony Animation Taps Walt Disney Vet Garth Burkhard to Head Publicity (Exclusive)

Courtesy of Sony Pictures
Sony's 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'

Burkhard spent five years at Walt Disney Animation, working on campaigns for award-winning titles like 'Frozen' and 'Zootopia.'

Sony Pictures Animation has tapped Walt Disney Animation publicity veteran Garth Burkhard as its new senior vp publicity.

The news comes a week after the studio released its latest animated effort, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The Phil Lord- and Chris Miller-produced feature has received awards buzz after a positive critical response and pulled in $35 million at the domestic box office in its opening weekend, earning over $65 million at the global box office to date.

The announcement was made Friday by Sony Pictures Animation head Kristine Belson in a memo to staff, in which she wrote: "Garth joins the team at a sensational time for SPA as we receive early acclaim and awards recognition for our already record-breaking film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse."

The animation arm of the Culver City-based studio is already developing an animated universe around Spider-Verse, including a sequel and a female-driven spinoff. Other upcoming features include Angry Birds 2 and the Jackie Chan-starring Wish Dragon.

Burkhard joins Sony after spending 10 years with the Mouse House — five of which were spent at WDA, where he worked on campaigns for titles including Oscar winners Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia. At Sony, Burkhard will work closely with senior vp marketing Becky Chaires, focusing on publicity and social media campaigns for all SPA titles.

Read Belson's full memo, below.

Dear Colleagues:

I’m excited to share that Garth Burkhard has joined Sony Pictures Animation as our new svp of publicity, handling PR and social media for our titles at every stage, and SPA’s overarching branding and profile development in the global animation space. Garth will report to me and work closely with Becky Chaires, svp of marketing for Sony Pictures Animation. They will continue to partner with Columbia Pictures’ publicity and marketing teams. Garth joins the team at a sensational time for SPA as we receive early acclaim and awards recognition for our already record-breaking film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Garth has over 10 years of experience in the industry and the animation business, and joins us after five years at Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he was an integral part of the global publicity team. In addition to handling campaigns for the studio’s feature film releases, short film releases, in-home releases, awards campaigns, studio branding and legacy initiatives, Garth also led digital and social media efforts for the studio. During his tenure at Disney Animation, the studio won its first-ever Best Animated Feature Academy Award for Frozen, the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and has since celebrated Oscar wins for Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and short film, Feast. Simultaneously, Garth served as publicity lead for Disneytoon Studios, overseeing theatrical and in-home PR campaigns for films in the Planes and Tinker Bell series. In his previous role at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Garth worked on campaigns for Pixar and Studio Ghibli, and in the live-action space, dozens of films including Alice in WonderlandTron: Legacy, and The Muppets.

Please join me in welcoming Garth.