'Alvin' director readies for hybrid holiday tale

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment have firmed up a March 4, 2011, release date for “I Hop,” a live-action/CGI family comedy. Russell Brand has been set to provide the voice of the Easter Bunny.

Tim Hill, who mixed live action and CGI characters on “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” will direct.

Production begins this fall. Illumination chief Chris Meledandri will produce with John Cohen.

Tale revolves around an out-of-work slacker who runs over the Easter Bunny while driving home late. Since the bunny can’t hop with a broken leg, the slacker is pressed into duty to save Easter. The film becomes a two-hander between the iconic holiday critter and the slacker, each of whom is running from adulthood.

Script was penned by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, who wrote Illumination’s first animated project, “Despicable Me,” which is set for a July 9 bow next year, with Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig and Julie Andrews. Brand also provided a key voice.

“Russell showed me that he’s got a wonderful ability not only to be funny in his own body, but he can create humor vocally, which is the distinction we need for these movies,” Meledandri said. “This gives us an opportunity to remythologize the holiday around an Easter Bunny character that is as dynamic and irreverent as Russell is.”

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