Leconte's toon debut creates Annecy buzz

ANNECY — Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup and Canada’s Kaibou Production have boarded “Le Magasin des suicides” (The Suicide Shop), the toonpic debut of famed French helmer Patrice Leconte (“My Best Friend,” “The Man on the Train”).

A top Belgian production house, Entre Chien et Loup co-produced Monica Bellucci starrer “Don’t Look Back,” Unifrance Rendez-Vous hit “Rapt” and Cannes Competition player “A Screaming Man.”

Founded by Bruce Garnier in 2001, Kaibou is a DVD distributor turned animation production house.

Laurent Petin’s ARP will distribute “Shop” in France. Gregoire Melin’s Kinology will handle international sales.

“Shop” is lead produced out of France in a 50/50 partnership by Gilles Podesta’s Diabolo Films and Thomas Langmann’s La Petite Reine.

Budgeted at Euros11 million ($13.2 million), and tapping Belgian tax coin via Entre Chien, “Shop” is now fully financed, said Podesta.

“Shop” is one of the biggest buzz projects at this week’s Annecy Animation Festival, where dozens queued in vain to get into a Leconte Work in Progress presentation.

One reason for the fervor is “Shop’s” use of a pioneering stereoscopic 2D system, developed by Jean-Louis Rizet’s Paris-based Executive Toon Services.

The technology is a question of style, Leconte argues. Adapting Jean Teule’s bestselling French novel, the humor-laced “Shop” is set in a delicately drawn but comically dismal and drab city.

“Shop” turns on a youngest son whose joie-de-vivre threatens his family’s thriving suicide utensil shop business.

According to Leconte, who started his career as a comicbook illustrator at Pilote Magazine, “Stereoscopic 2D allows a film to have a more textured, dense visual style than classic stereoscopic 3D.”

“It’s also a way to appeal to a broader audience than S3D-animated films, which often target a younger public.”

Podesta said the final effect of S3D in “Shop” will be comparable to muti-layered, illustrated children books.

Now performing animatics — storyboard animation — “Shop” shoots from Aug. 1 in Paris’ Caribara studios, Angouleme, Brussels and Montreal’s TouTenKartoon Canada, which worked on “Totally Spies.”

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