A year after pacting with Universal to produce 20 animated features over five years, indie toon producer Magic Lantern Entertainment has lined up $10 million in funding to develop its slate, courtesy of a deal with TF2 Ventures, a production fund based in Austin, Texas.
First project will be “Bad Kitty,” based on the Heathcliff comicstrip about a temperamental orange tabby prone to bullying mailmen and tipping over trash cans. Pic is being written by toon scribe Tom Ruegger for theatrical release in 2011. Ruegger is a multiple Emmy winner known for his work on “Tiny Toon Adventures,” “Animaniacs” and “Pinky and the Brain.”
Though earmarked to develop 20 projects, the TF2 funds need not be applied directly to Innovation Pictures (the Magic Lantern subsid created to fulfill its output deal with U) and could also be used to explore projects for release through other distribs.
According to Magic Lantern prexy Jeff Segal, the company aims to option established pop culture properties and characters for remakes, sequels or adaptations to be produced as theatrical or direct-to-DVD toons. With a property such as “Bad Kitty,” part of the pic’s estimated $1.2 million development budget will be used for tests to determine whether to fully computer-animate the film or blend live-action with other techniques.
“The interesting thing is that we reimburse the development money, but TF2, at their discretion, can leave the money in as equity in the project,” Segal said.