Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now



Athena Studios Signs Nate Hopper as Co-Producer of Upcoming Stop Motion Animation Project “Auntie Claus”

Hopper is a Former Executive with Sony Pictures Animation and 20th Century Fox Studios

Emeryville, CA, December 16, 2014 – Just in time for the 2014 Christmas holiday, Athena Studios, an Emeryville, CA-based studio specializing in animation for film and multimedia clients, has signed Nate Hopper as Co-Producer of the company’s original, currently in development, stop-motion animation feature film project “Auntie Claus.” The announcement was made today by Jon V. Peters, Founder of Athena Studios.

Hopper was previously the Senior Vice President of Creative Affairs at Sony Pictures Animation, where he helped build start-up studio Sony Pictures Animation.

Athena Studios is actively involved in the development of a 90-minute, stop-motion, musical motion picture based on “Auntie Claus,” the first book in the best-selling Christmas series. Athena Studios obtained the feature film rights to the award-winning children’s Christmas book by author Elise Primavera. 

“Since the moment that I conceived of ‘Auntie Claus’ I hoped the book would be adapted into an animated musical,” said Primavera. “The talented people at Athena Studios share this vision and I couldn’t be happier to hear that Nate Hopper, former SVP of Creative for Sony Pictures Animation, will now be co-producer on the film.”

Nate Hopper joins several other heavyweight animation figures who have previously committed to the “Auntie Claus” production. These include: Pete Kozachik, Director of Photography: Kozachik has served as DP on “Coraline,” “The Corpse Bride,” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” He was also involved with the Visual Effects on “Star Wars Episode II,” “Ghostbusters 2,” “Starship Troopers,” “Star Trek IV,” and “Robocop 2 and 3;” Tom Proost, Art Director: Proost has served as Art Director on “Coraline,” and worked in Visual Effects for “Galaxy Quest,” “Star Wars: Episode II,” “The Mummy,” “AI: Artificial Intelligence,” and “The Matrix 2 and 3;” and Kat Alioshin, Line Producer. Alioshin was assistant director on “James and the Giant Peach” and was a supervisor on “Coraline,” “Corpse Bride” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” prior to joining the Auntie Claus development crew.  

“The Auntie Claus character is something truly fun and different,” said Hopper. “I also think the time is right for a great female-centric film about Christmas. The film is quite unique in its vision, and the use of stop-motion animation harkens back to the wonderful Rankin/Bass holiday classics we all remember fondly from our childhoods.” 

Said Peters, “Nate is a tremendous addition to the Auntie Claus team. His experience in building out Sony Pictures Animation, and his proven track record in developing stories that connect with the hearts of audiences, are invaluable assets to us, as we move forward in the creation of Athena as a new, independent animation studio.” 


From 2002 to 2011, Hopper was the Senior Vice President of Creative Affairs at Sony Pictures Animation, where he helped build start-up studio Sony Pictures Animation (SPA). He was the lead creative executive on “Open Season,” “Surf’s Up” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” as well as on the live action/animation hybrid “The Smurfs” movie. Hopper also created and developed the idea for “Hotel Transylvania.” 

As Vice President of Production at 20th Century Fox Studios, Hopper worked on such high profile feature films as “X-MEN,” “X-MEN II,” and the “Aliens vs. Predator” franchise. 


Originally released in 1999 by Harcourt, Inc., “Auntie Claus” by author Elise Primavera, is the holiday story of 11-year old Sophie, a girl who is a byproduct of an entitled generation. One Christmas, all of that changes when her mysterious Aunt reveals Sophie’s true heritage – Santa is very real, and Sophie is one of the family — and she’s whisked off on a grand adventure to the North Pole and a mission to rescue the holiday for children everywhere. Please see:

“Auntie Claus” is the first in a series of three books by Elise Primavera depicting the adventures of Sophie and her Great Aunt “Auntie Claus.” For more information, please see:


Athena Studios was launched as a full-service animation facility. In 2013, Athena Studios began to develop its own original content for motion pictures, television and the web, in addition to producing outside projects.

Athena Studios is located in Emeryville, CA, in the heart of Northern California’s “New Hollywood” — near Pixar, Tippett Studios and Ex’pression College for Digital Arts. For more information, please see:

                                                                                                                                                # # #