Studio greenlights 3-D digital animated film

Twentieth Century Fox Animation is heading south for its next bigscreen project from Blue Sky Studios.

Studio has greenlit the 3-D digital animated pic “Rio,” which centers on a nerdy macaw who leaves the comforts of his cage in small-town Minnesota and heads to Rio de Janeiro.

Carlos Saldanha (“Ice Age: The Meltdown”) will direct. The Brazilian-born helmer, who has been nurturing “Rio” for years, is putting the finishing touches on “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” the third installment in the blockbuster “Ice Age” franchise. It bows July 1.

Chris Jenkins (“Surf’s Up”) and Bruce Anderson (“Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!”) will produce the pic, which will be released by 20th Century Fox on April 8, 2011.

Twentieth Century Fox and Blue Sky most recently teamed on “Horton Hears a Who!”

Saldanha has been one of the principal creative forces at Blue Sky Studios since 1993. He teamed with Chris Wedge to co-direct “Ice Age” and “Robots.” Saldanha solely directed “Ice Age: The Meltdown.”

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