A New York Times report suggests Sony might consider selling its animation division
to companies interested in expanding their work into the game business -- while SCE and Sony Online Entertainment are not part of any possible deal.
According to the report, Sony Pictures has hired investment bank Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin to assess two of its divisions. One is the Sony Pictures Imageworks, the 15-year-old studio which produces visual effects for movies, while the other would be a "no more than 50 percent stake" of the Sony Pictures Animation, the studio which produced movies such as the recent CGI family film Surf's Up.
These two divisions currently operate in tandem within Sony Pictures, with Imageworks picking up animators who are between animated films and using them to produce special effects for live-action films for Sony and other studios.
Some possible investors in Imageworks are reportedly eyeing the company for its potential to expand into production of video games and commercials. The NYT report implies this would require splitting the two units apart, which it suggests is not practical, given their close relationship.