Universal Pictures has raided 20th Century Fox and hired away the animation executive who oversaw the hit "Ice Age" movies, a move intended to fill a void left when Paramount acquired DreamWorks and replaced Universal as distributor of animated films like "Over the Hedge," the New York Times reports.

The executive, Christopher Meledandri, the president of 20th Century Fox Animation, will move to Universal in April with a five-year production deal to make both animated and live-action films, according to two studio executives with knowledge of the agreement.

The executive said that Universal hopes Mr. Meledandri can build a company that is separately financed but exclusive to Universal, and one that can turn out family films as good as those made by DreamWorks Animation as well as the Walt Disney Company and its Pixar subsidiary.

A Fox spokesman declined to comment.

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