Distribution Co. takes Illusion’s ‘Cat’

Argentine toon house presents 'Eva' at Annecy

Argentina’s Distribution Co. has taken theatrical rights to Latin American 3D toon pic “Top Cat,” based on the 1960s Hanna-Barbera series.

Produced by Mexico’s Anima Estudios and Argentina’s Illusion Studios, “Cat” will be released in September on around 70 copies, said Gaston Cami, Illusion’s VP, international sales and co-productions. About 50% of the film will be 3D, he added.

On “Cat,” the second of a three-pic co-production deal with Anima, Illusion carried out modeling, lighting, background rendering, compositions, editing, lab sound and image, and stereoscopic 3D work.

Bernardo and Paula Zupnik’s Distribution Co. also bowed the Illusion-produced “Gaturro.”

“Cat” deal comes as Illusion unveiled its latest animated feature, “Eva de la Argentina,” directed by Maria Seoane, a former director of Argentina’s Radio Nacional, at France’s Annecy Animated Film Festival on Tuesday.

“Eva” is set in 1976 and concerns former Argentine president Juan Peron’s wife, widely loved in the country.

Co-produced with Azpeitia Cine, it’s a fiction film that mixes archive footage and animation, incorporating Rodolfo Walsh — a real journalist gunned down by dictator Jorge Videla’s security forces in 1977 — who investigates Eva’s life and death.

“Eva” makes use of original recordings of speeches by the Perons. Gustavo Santaolalla will compose the soundtrack, “Eva” producer Maria Laura Rodriguez said at Annecy.

Pic is skedded for delivery in September, and Illusion will start talking to sales agents this summer.Based in Buenos Aires, Illusion can tap lower animation production costs than Mexico and Brazil — though Argentine prices are increasing, Cami said — and a growing talent-base of local animators.

Argentina’s challenge in animation is its limited number of international brands, which limits merchandising deals, Cami said.

The market wants strong brands with original treatment, he said. New brands, however, can be high risk, he added. So Illusion is plowing into live-action children-youth fare.

It produced teen love telenovela “Suena conmigo” (Dream With Me) with Televisa and Nickelodeon Latin America. Series bowed in Latin America and and on Spanish-language channels in the U.S. last year.

With 100 permanent staff for 2D and 3D, Illusion has also teamed with Walt Disney Latin America to produce “Peter Punk,” about a high school student from a dysfunctional family who heads a garage band, for Disney XD, a Latin American pan-regional channel.

Illusion aims to work more with Europe, producing tween/teen live-action half-hour sitcoms combining low costs and high quality, Cami said. It will reveal three new properties for Mipcom.

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