Moore's 'Kells' follow-up framed as Euro co-prod

Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon has tied down European partners on “Song of the Sea,” Tomm Moore’s follow-up to “The Secret of Kells.”

In “Sea’s” first distribution deal, Optimum Releasing has nabbed U.K. and Irish rights.

Cartoon Saloon will lead produce “Sea” out of its animation studio in Kilkenny, Ireland. On “Kells,” Saloon provided designs, layouts, backgrounds, the first 20 minutes of animation, storyboarding and scene illustrations.

Viborg-based Noerlum Studios will co-produce out of Denmark, providing close to half the animation.

Big Farm co-produces from Belgium. A joint venture of brothers Serge and Marc Ume’s Digital Graphics Studios and Stephan Roelant’s Melusine in Luxembourg, Big Farm’s involvement opens the production up to both Digital Graphics and Melusine sister company Studio 352.

Digital Graphics will provide CG animation, SFX, compositing and ink and paint and stereoscopic work. Paris’ Super Prods., the new company of ex-Alphanim head Clement Calvet, will also co-produce, partnering on post-production and music.

Pre-production is planned for September on “Sea,” which is budgeted at €5.3 million ($7.4 million).

Moore will direct “Sea” from a screenplay co-penned with Will Collins, who wrote Tribeca Fest player “My Brothers,” the directorial debut of Shane Meadow’s scribe Paul Fraser.

Moore is now working on a final draft in storyboard form.

“Song of the Sea” turns on Saoirse, a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world. “Sea” is about “how folklore in Ireland is being lost and forgotten in the modern world — the loss of cultural identity in globalization,” Moore said.

Employing French software TV Paint, which allows for 2D digital hand-drawn animation, Moore is also testing a pop-up book-style 3D stereoscopic effect, he said.

“Some cinemas may not have 3D technology so ‘Sea’ will have to work perfectly well as traditional 2D, with the option of 3D for the right kind of cinemas.”

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