French animated feature in limbo

'Monster,' 'Rock' seek cash

PARIS — Cash-strapped toon house Bibo Films has suspended production on EuropaCorp’s “A Monster in Paris” for an undetermined period.

The $35 million “A Monster in Paris,” which was penned and directed by Bibo chief Eric Bergeron (“Shark Tale”), had been skedded for a Gallic theatrical release in April.

While Gallic 2-D fare like “The Triplets of Belleville” and “Persepolis” have been the country’s strong suit, CGI-animated features are often too expensive to produce for a market as small as France.

Apart from a few blockbusters like Luc Besson’s $85 million budgeted “Arthur and the Invisible” — a mix of live-action and animation — most 3-D fare don’t travel well, and as a result are hardly profitable.

“In France, it’s almost impossible to raise more than Euros 15 million ($18.8 million) to make a 3-D animation film, unless you’re a movie mogul with an international profile like Luc Besson,” said Pascal Herold, former topper at Paris-based toon house Duran Duboi.

Even French powerhouse shingle Gaumont’s first animation project, “Rock the Boat,” is on stand-by.

Gaumont is having a difficult time finding financing for “Rock,” which has an estimated budget of $35 million.

Paris-based shingle Dandy Films wrapped pre-production last December and Gaumont has been trying to raise financing to complete the production. A spokesperson for Gaumont said they are hoping to partner up with Canadian or American co-producers.

Alphanim, a production company specializing in children programs that Gaumont acquired in December for $27 million, could do some of the animation work, but Gaumont is exploring different options and is looking for other studios.

Helmed by Fabien Suarez and Andre Bessy, pic was initially skedded for release next September.

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