Disney, ImageMovers team for animated film

Michael Dougherty has teamed with Walt Disney Pictures and Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers on “Calling All Robots,” an animated sci-fi adventure the scribe plans to direct using the same type of performance capture technology recently deployed to produce “Beowulf.”

Dougherty will pen the project with Breehn Burns and Simeon Wilkins, who will serve as artists and visual designers on the project. The trio conceived the idea together.

Details of the project are being kept under wraps, but it uses performance capture to “tell a story that’s a throwback to old Godzilla movies,” Dougherty said. “I grew up watching Godzilla movies. This film is very much rooted in those movies.”

ImageMovers’ Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey will produce.

The producers are readying “A Christmas Carol,” their follow up to “Beowulf” and “The Polar Express,” which will use the performance capture process and Disney will distrib in 2009.

Idea for “Calling All Robots” was hatched in part because of the capabilities of the technology, which combines the filming of actors and combines their moves using computers to create digital characters and sets.

“It’s a film we just could not make in live action or traditional animation,” said Dougherty, who began his career as an animator.

Dougherty recently helmed “Trick ‘r Treat,” a Halloween-themed horror pic that Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures were going to release last October but bumped to this year in order to move pic away from an onslaught of slashers at the multiplex.

He had worked with Burns and Wilkins on “Trick ‘r Treat,” with the two serving as storyboard and concept artists on the project.

No release date has yet been set for “Trick ‘r Treat,” Dougherty’s first foray in the director’s chair.

He previously penned “X2: X-Men United” for 20th Century Fox and “Superman Returns,” both of which Bryan Singer helmed.

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