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Lucky Luke gallops to bigscreen in Gaul

Jean-Marie to helm comic book adaptation

Gallic animation studio Xilam is bringing comicbook hero Lucky Luke to the bigscreen in “Tous a l’ouest,” slated to bow in fall 2007.

Pic, co-produced by Dargaud-Marina and Lucky Comics with a budget of e12 million ($14.4 million), will be helmed by Olivier Jean-Marie from a script by Jean-Marie and Jean-Francois Henry.

Xilam’s TV series based on the cowboy drew 4.2 million viewers during its run on pubcaster France 3 and won the TV industry’s 7 d’Or kudo for animated series in 2003.

“Tous a l’ouest” will be loosely based on the comicbook “The Caravan” and will see the cowboy, accompanied by his talking horse Jolly Jumper, go up against long-time enemies the hapless Dalton brothers in a gallop across 19th century America.

Pic, which will be 30% financed through foreign pre-sales, has already sold in Germany, Benelux, Eastern Europe, Portugal and Greece.

Xilam hopes to net big names for the voices of the animated characters and plans an English-language version. Gallic thesp Antoine de Caunes lent his voice to Lucky Luke’s TV incarnation.

Lucky Luke, created by Rene Goscinny and Morris (real name Maurice de Bevere), is a comicbook institution in France, where the most recent issue of the series sold 1 million copies.

The last film adaptation of the Lucky Luke franchise, the $27 million budget “The Daltons,” a live-action pic, grossed only $12.2 million in Gaul when it bowed in 2004.

Xilam’s pic will be the first toon version in 25 years. Xilam is known for its popular kiddie toons, including “Oggy and the Cockroaches” and “Ratz.”

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