Illumination to create 3-D animated feature

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Universal-based Illumination Entertainment will create a 3-D animated feature based on “Flanimals,” a children’s book series by Ricky Gervais.

Gervais will voice the lead character, and the script will be written by Matt Selman (“The Simpsons”).

The four-volume series, illustrated by Rob Steen, encompasses a world inhabited by 50 species of creatures so ugly and misshapen they become cute and endearing. Gervais’ character, a pudgy, perspiring purple creature, goes on a mission to change the world. “It will be great to play a short, fat, sweaty loser for a change,” Gervais said. “A real stretch.”

Illumination founder Chris Meledandri will produce with Courtney Pledger. Gervais will exec produce.

Illumination, formed to give Universal a presence in family and animated fare, is in production on “Despicable Me,” a film that Universal will release July 9, 2010. The pic’s lead voices are delivered by Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Danny McBride, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig and Julie Andrews.

Endeavor reps Gervais with U.K.-based United Agents.

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