Studio pacts for 'Persepolis'

Sony Pictures Classics has struck a deal for North American rights to “Persepolis,” an in-production animated feature based on Iranian author Marjane Satrapi’s autobiolgraphical graphic novels.

Pic — which Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud co-penned and are co-directing — is being created in Paris.

Marc-Antoine Robert and Xavier Rigault, of 2.4.7. Films, are producing, and Kathleen Kennedy (“Munich,” “War of the Worlds”) is exec producing.

France 3 Cinema co-produces.

“Persepolis” is the coming-of-age story of a precocious Iranian 9-year-old girl during the Islamic Revolution.

Chiara Mastroianni voices the main character in the French version of the pic. Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux and Simon Abkarian are also adding voice talent.

An English version of the pic will also be recorded.

Sony Pictures Classics co-prexy Tom Bernard said at a Carlton Beach luncheon announcing the project that he wasn’t concerned about Satrapi’s prompting any political backlash from the Muslim world. “Marjane lives in Paris, she left Iran,” he said. “And it won’t happen in the U.S., unless George Bush takes it to another level.”

Sony specialty unit also recently acquired the Iranian pic “Offside,” Jafar Panahi’s look at young women trying to sneak into a Iranian World Cup qualifying soccer match that’s open to men only.

SPC previously rolled out French animation pic “The Triplets of Belleville.”

Kennedy became involved in the pic when she read Satrapi’s graphic novel and became interested in turning the material into a movie. She soon found that Robert and Rigault were already developing the pic and got on board. Kennedy next introduced the filmmakers to SPC’s Bernard and Michael Barker, who immediately snapped up the pic.

The filmmakers hope to have “Persepolis” finished in time for next year’s Cannes.

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