Distrib nabs North American and U.K. rights

PARIS — The Weinstein Company has nabbed North American and U.K. rights to “Santa’s Apprentice,” a 2D animated feature produced by French company Gaumont’s toon production arm Alphanim.

A spinoff of Jan Van Rijsselberge’s hit animated series “SantApprentice,” the English-language $6.7 million toon turns on Santa Claus, who must train a shy little boy to replace him as he reluctantly retires. Pic is co-produced by Australian outfit Avrill Stark Ent., in association with Irish shingle Cartoon Saloon (“The Secret of Kells”).

Deal was negotiated by Peter Lawson, exec VP of acquisitions and co-productions at the Weinstein Co., and Cecile Gaget, head of international sales at Gaumont.

“Santa’s Apprentice” has recently been acquired by HBO in Latin America, Victory Prod in Benelux, Cinemax in CIS, Four Star in Middle East, Lusomundo in Portugal, Weg in India and PT Amero in Indonesia.

At Cannes, Gaumont screened a five-minute promo reel that prompted a raft of sales to Germany (Universum), Australia (BFG), India and Singapore (WEG), Greece (Odeon) and Portugal (Lusomundo), among others.

Toon will world preem the AFM. Gaumont will handle the French release on Nov. 24.

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