StudioCanal backs 3D Ocelot pic

Nord-Ouest teams on 'Dragons'

ANNECY — Europe’s biggest film company, StudioCanal, is teaming with one of its most successful animation auteurs, France’s Michel Ocelot, to produce, distribute and sell abroad the movie “Dragons and Princesses.”

Also produced by Christophe Rossignon’s Nord-Ouest Films, “Dragons” will mark Ocelot’s first venture into stereoscopic 3D moviemaking.

“Dragons” deepens the relationship between StudioCanal and Ocelot, who broke through with 1998’s international toon phenom “Kirikou and the Sorceress.”

The animated feature rolls off a same-titled 2D 10-part short-format toon series, produced by Nord-Ouest, Studio O and Gallic TV paybox Canal Plus. StudioCanal is handling French DVD and international sales rights on the skein.

The TV series turns around five fairytales set in Africa, China, the Caribbean and imaginary countries.

One seg of the animated TV series will be showcased this week at the 50th Annecy Animation Festival, which bowed Monday with Sylvain Chomet’s enthusiastically received opening night film “The Illusionist.”

S3D movie “Dragons” adds a sixth fairytale and new images in the others, with S3D enhancing the movie’s poetry, StudioCanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson told Daily Variety.

The fairytales will be shot using silhouette shadow animation and cut-out puppets.

“The 3D movie will be extremely beautiful and made in an artistically naif style, with the African tale recalling ‘Kirikou’ in its drawing,” Courson added.

StudioCanal holds all French rights, including for theatrical distribution, on “Dragons” the 3D movie. It will also handle international sales.

Nord-Ouest and StudioCanal aim for an April 2011 theatrical distribution in France.

Bringing an ever-stronger international sales operation to the table, animation is a burgeoning production focus at Euro major StudioCanal.

At February’s Berlin Film Festival, StudioCanal announced a longterm exclusive development, co-financing and worldwide distribution deal with Ben Stassen’s NWave, Europe’s leading stereoscopic 3D pioneer and production house.

At 2009 Cannes, StudioCanal sold out worldwide on Stassen’s second S3D pic, “Sammy’s Adventures,” which gets its first public outing at Annecy. It is currently handling international sales on the Stassen-directed “Sammy’s Adventures 2,” now in production.

Teaming with another key Euro toon player, StudioCanal is co-producing toon pic “Ernest and Celestine” with Didier Brunner’s Les Armateurs.

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