Paramount's animated film set for March 2011

Johnny Depp will reunite with “Pirates of the Caribbean” director Gore Verbinski on “Rango,” an animated pic that Paramount will finance and distribute.

The studio has slotted the film for a March 2011 release.

Depp will voice the lead character, a household pet that goes on an adventure to discover its true self.

John Logan (“The Aviator”) has penned the script from an idea hatched by Verbinski. Verbinski will work with Industrial Light & Magic on the animation.

“Rango” will be produced by Verbinski’s Blind Wink Prods., Graham King and John Carls. Par-based Nickelodeon Films is expected to be involved as well.

The CG “Rango” will be Par’s most ambitious star-driven entry into animation. Project was developed by King’s GK Films, which made the original deal with Verbinski (Daily Variety, Feb. 20).

Verbinski will direct “Rango” as he continues to develop an adaptation of the bestselling Take-Two vidgame “Bioshock” for Universal. That film is also being scripted by Logan.

“Rango” aims to use cutting-edge animation techniques that “will allow us to capture and translate every aspect of Johnny’s performance, using it to drive the computer-generated character in a way that has yet to be seen in an animated feature,” Verbinski said.

ILM previously worked with Verbinski to create the octopus-faced Davy Jones character played by Bill Nighy in the “Pirates” pics.

Depp is set to begin work on “Rango” in January.

He’s repped by UTA.

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