Ilion, Herold, NWave vie for producer prize

MADRID — Madrid’s Ilion Animation, Paris’ Herold and Family and Brussels’ NWave Pics have been nominated for the European Producer of the Year award at next week’s Cartoon Movie.

Nominations all roll off the toon movies’ significant international sales and distribution deals, underscoring the ever-greater overseas reach of Euro toonpics. Europe’s most important animated pic co-production forum, Cartoon Movie runs March 3-5 in Lyon, France.

Ignacio Perez Dolset’s Ilion produced alien planet comedy “Planet 51,” which Sony put out Stateside on 3,035 copies Nov. 20, in prime box-office real estate running-up to Thanksgiving.

Though Ilion had hoped for more, “Planet 51’s” $41.8 million U.S. cume still rates as the best Stateside B.O. for a toonpic from continental Europe.

Directed by Pascal Herold, Jerome Deschamps and Macha Makeieff and produced by Herold and Family and MK2, “The True Story of Puss’n Boots” was a sales hit for MK2 Intl. France’s fourth highest-grossing French-language film outside Gaul in 2009, according to Unifrance stats, “Puss” sold 600,000 tix in Poland, and 500,000 in Mexico.

Including a Universal Music Group deal for the U.S., StudioCanal’s bumper Cannes 2009 sales on S3D “Sammy’s Adventures” (aka “Around the World in 50 Years”), produced by Ben Stassen’s NWave, helped seal an exclusive development, co-financing and worldwide distribution deal between NWave and StudioCanal, announced at Berlin. “Ben Stassen is Europe’s Pope of stereoscopic 3D,” said Marc Vandeweyer, Cartoon general director.

Cartoon Movie’s European director nominees are Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar for claymation pic “A Town Called Panic,” Sweden’s Stephane Tarik Saleh for “Metropia” — “It’s very modern, auteurist and original,” said Vandeweyer — and Dominique Monfery for the fairytale world-set “Eleanor’s Secret,” early fruit of the push into feature film animation by France’s Gaumont-Alphanim animation powerhouse.

In the European Distributor category, Celluloid Dreams World Sales faces off with Poland’s Kino Swiat and France’s Wild Bunch Distribution.

Celluloid Dreams sold well on “Persepolis,” “Mia and the Migoo,” “The Triplets of Belleville” and “Secret of the Kells.”

“It always has very high artistic taste in its choices and works very well on the international market,” said Vandeweyer.

Producer-distributor Kino Swiat has bet heavily on toonpics — from NWave and Filmax titles to “Missing Lynx,” “Niko and the Way to the Stars” and “Puss,” often with remarkable results: 300,000-400,000 admissions, or more.

Aiming to co-produce an animation film a year from 2010, Wild Bunch has already handled “Yona Yona Penguin,” “Max and Co” and “Lucky Luke.”

Six of Cartoon Movie’s nine noms are for companies or directors from France or Belgium, a sign of their growing dominance on the Euro toon scene.

Awards are announced March 5.

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