Rainbow begins casting big-budget toon

EXCLUSIVE– Julianne Hough is in advanced negotiations to become the first American voice talent for “Not Born to Be Gladiators,” the big-budget 3D spoof toon that Italy’s Rainbow Studios is producing and Paramount will release Stateside.

Hough, a former “Dancing With the Stars” champ now attached to Par’s “Footloose” remake and New Line’s “Rock of Ages” adaptation, will voice the love interest of goofy gladiator Timo.

The $55 million toon has another key female character who becomes Timo’s trainer, giving “Gladiators” a feminist twist.

Rainbow topper Iginio Straffi said the rest of the U.S. voice cast, which will all be Hollywood name talent, is still being decided.

Variety announced in February that Par will release “Gladiators” in North America.

Straffi said Par is eying March for a wide U.S. release.

“Gladiators” footage will be shown to prospective buyers and press today at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes.

Meanwhile, sales are heating up. Rainbow has inked a Middle East rights deal with Gulf Film, the region’s largest distributor. There is strong interest from other territories including Russia and France.

A “Gladiators” sequel is in early development stages. Like the original toon, the sequel is being penned by Michael Wilson (“Ice Age,” “Shark Tale”).

Rainbow is a big Italian success story thanks to the “Winx Club,” a toon about six trendy MTV-generation fairies, which has become one of Europe’s top TV exports.

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