Paramount to launch big-budget animation unit

    LOS ANGELES (AP) ? Viacom’s movie studio, Paramount Pictures, is launching its own animated division to make films with large budgets of up to $100 million each.

    The creation of the unit follows the success of the company’s first fully owned animated movie, “Rango.” The animated flick starring Johnny Depp as a chameleon in the Wild West has grossed more than $240 million worldwide since its release in March.

    Paramount says it plans to tap characters developed for the Nickelodeon channel, which is also owned by Viacom Inc.

    The first title under the new division is set for release in 2014.