DIC acquires ‘Sandiego’ pic rights

Notorious master thief Carmen Sandiego is about to make the jump from computer screen to the movie screen.

DIC Animation City and Batfilm Prods. have acquired the rights to produce a live-action feature film based on the Carmen Sandiego character, the star of Broderbund Software’s best-selling children’s computer software.

Executive producers of the film, which will be developed in-house by DIC, are DIC president and CEO Andy Heyward and Batfilm founders Benjamin Melniker and Michael Uslan.

Carmen Sandiego began her career in 1985, with the launching of the computer game “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” developed by Broderbund co-founders Doug and Gary Carlston.

Hailed as a breakthrough in combining entertainment and education, other versions followed, including “Where in the U.S.A.?””Where in Europe?””Where in Time?” and the latest, “Where in Space?”

The Carmen Sandiego character, currently featured on a children’s game show on PBS, will also debut this fall as an animated series on Fox. She is one of several characters looking for potential success in both the live-action and animated arenas. Another DIC animated character, “Inspector Gadget,” is being developed as a live-action film by Ivan Reitman’s Universal-based Northern Lights Entertainment.

According to Heyward, with many studios now looking for more family fare to produce, the crossover between the animated and live-action worlds is a natural.

“It’s very common to see this, especially where there’s already a strong family component built in,” Heyward said. “One helps the other. Studios are aware of the family marketplace and they are running back to classic properties.”

Although there is no studio attached to the Carmen Sandiego project yet, several sources said that it will probably end up at 20th Century Fox, since the animated series is already set for the Fox network.

As for how much input Broderbund will have on the film project, a spokesperson for the company said, “We have a style guide that contains information on Carmen Sandiego. All licensees are expected to keep the integrity of the character. The computer game is a strong mixture of entertainment and education. We would hope that is conveyed in the movie.”

“Broderbund will have a modest amount of creative guidance to make sure we aren’t changing the property,” Heyward said.

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