Project called France's first live-action pic in 3D format

Pascal Sid and Julien Lacombe are to direct “Behind the Walls,” which they tout as the first Gallic live-action feature shot in 3D.

Pic is produced by Paris-based Sombrero Films’ genre label Studio Mad. The 1922-set fantasy thriller turns on a young novelist who goes to the countryside to write a book and falls victim to terrifying hallucinations and nightmares.

Gallic mini-major MK2, which has converted its entire theater circuit to digital, will handle theatrical and international sales. French paybox Canal Plus has pre-bought the film.

“Behind the Walls” is modestly budgeted at E3.7 million ($5 million) with the 3D component eating up 30% of the budget per producer Thomas Verhaeghe.

“Making it in 3D represents an opportunity to reach out to a broader audiences in France and abroad,” he said. “The success of ‘Avatar’ and other U.S. 3D films in France have shown that there’s a large audience for 3D in every country so we think it’s time for us to take some of that market share.”

Producers have applied for coin from the CNC’s support fund for local S3D projects, which handed out $706,000 to eight 3D projects in the last half of 2009. The org’s also set up a policy for converting all screens to digital.

There are at least three French-majority S3D toons in production or pre-production — Pascal Herold’s “Cinderella,” Team To’s “Occho Kochoi” and Onyx Films’ “Mune” — plus Wim Wenders’ docu “Pina.”

“France stands as Europe’s digital frontrunner,” per 3D pioneer Ben Stassen, director of NWave’s “Sammy’s Adventures.”

France has 959 digital screens, including 710 3D screens, according to Screen Digest.

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