Near deal for financing on 'Gus'; in talks for 'Heart'

TeamTO is closing the financing on its first toon feature, “Gus 3D,” and is in talks to board EuropaCorp’s “The Boy With a Cuckoo-Clock Heart,” which was pitched at Cartoon Movie, the Lyon-based co-production mini-mart.

“Heart’s” producer Virginie Besson-Silla, who attended Cartoon Movie with the pic’s scribe-helmer, Mathias Malzieu, and EuropaCorp TV sales topper Malika Abdellaoui, confirmed that EuropaCorp is in talks with TeamTO to pick up the toon’s production where Quinta Industries’ Duran Duboi left it last May (Variety, Dec. 19).

The animated musical fantasy, which Besson-Silla describes as “eccentric, colorful and meaningful,” was one of the most buzzed about projects pitched at Cartoon Movie, which wrapped Friday.

Based on Malzieu’s bestselling novel, the CG 3D feature boasts designs by well-known Italian illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli and an original score performed by French personalities, notably Eric Cantona and Jean Rochefort. EuropaCorp will produce a French version and an international one.

Besson-Silla said other companies in France and Belgium and one Italian shingle have shows interest. “We have 13 months to complete the movie,” said the producer, adding that she received “tremendous feedback from buyers, potential co-producers and financiers following the presentation.”

“Heart” is budgeted at €27 million ($35.4 million), of which 70% is financed; EuropaCorp is looking to finance the remaining 30% from investors’ and co-production coin. Meanwhile, TeamTO, which is established in France and recently opened a studio in Los Angeles, is near to closing the financing on the $11 million 3D toon “Gus.” The shingle signed a DVD deal with Studiocanal at the forum and is in negotiations with a few Gallic international sales companies to finance the last 20% of the budget, said TeamTO producer Corinne Kouper. France’s Haut et Court is co-producing and will release in Gaul.

In other Cartoon Movie deals, Spanish outfit 6 Sales, which presented the Goya-winning toon “Wrinkles” on the opening night of the co-production forum, has inked a sale to Portugal’s Lusomundo and is in negotiations to close France, Russia and Germany.

Meanwhile, Marc Bonny, founder of leading arthouse co-produciton and distribution shingle Gebeka, made offers for two standout projects that were being pitched : Rita Prods.’ “It’s a Zucchini’s Life,” a Swiss dramedy based on Gilles Paris’ autobiography, and Remi Chaye’s “Longway North,” which is set up at France’s Sacrebleu.

“Zucchini’s” producer Max Karli said Rita Prods. was also in negotiations with Cineart for Belgium distribution and has received other offers from French distributors.

Chaye said Sacrebleu Prods. received some interest from Wild Bunch for international sales.

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