Classic story set to charm new audiences

PARIS “The Little Prince” is set to return to his smallscreen throne.

Paris-based Method Animation is making an e18.4 million ($27.5 million) CGI-animated series based on French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic children’s book.

Written in 1943, “The Little Prince” follows a boy who’s been blown off Earth by a gigantic storm and must travel from planet to planet to find his way back home.

Translated into more than 200 languages, the book was made into a popular anime, “The Adventure of the Little Prince,” directed by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, in the 1980s that aired in Japan and North America.

Currently in production, the toon is set for a December 2010 delivery. A 3D version is also in preparation.

“The Little Prince” skein is co-produced by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, La Fabrique d’Images, India’s DQ Entertainment, German pubcaster ARD and Italy’s RAI Fiction.

The 66-year-old tale is getting a very modern distribution treatment.

The producing team, including Saint-Exupery’s great-nephew Olivier d’Agay, is building a multi-platform strategy around “Little Prince,” including an interactive web platform and a vidgame.

Method Animation producer Aton Soumache teamed with MK2 topper Nathanael Karmitz to develop the vidgame via their shingle MKO, launched two years ago.

“We were able to draw in strong international partners very early on because of the originality of the concept, the appeal of the franchise and also Soumache’s solid track record,” says Philippe Soutter, CEO of international sales company PGS Entertainment.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is handling worldwide homevideo (except North America).

Soumache previously teamed up with Marvel to produce “Iron Man,” which got top ratings on Nicktoons; and recently produced another toon, “Little Nick,” in collaboration with French net M6.

PGS Entertainment has already inked a raft of sales, including pubcaster channel France 3, WDR (Germany), RAI (Italy), TV2 (Denmark), TV2 (Norway), ABC (Australia), MTV3 (Finland) and TSR (Switzerland).

Pubcaster France Televisions has been piling up toons based on Gallic comicbooks. It’s also acquired “Tintin,” “Lucky Luke” and most recently “Gaston Lagaffe.”

“Since we’re a public broadcaster, we’re interested in showing animated-series that introduce kids to French literature, whether it’s a comicbook or an actual novel,” says Julien Borde, VP of youth programming at France Televisions.

Book has also been made into a live-action film helmed by Stanley Donen for Paramount in 1974; a symphony by Russian composer Lev Knipper, first performed in Moscow in 1978; a 2003 opera by Rachel Portman; and a French-language musical produced by composer Riccardo Cocciante in 2007.

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