Helmer Gato to work on 3D toon

Spaniard Enrique Gato will direct 3DCapture the Flag,” the biggest animated feature coming out of Spain this year, reuniting producers and talent from toon hit “Tad, the Lost Explorer,” Gato’s debut feature.

Telecinco Cinema (“The Impossible,” “Tad, the Lost Explorer”), El Toro Pictures, Lightbox and Ikiru produce.

“Flag” is budgeted at about €12 million ($16 million), higher than “Tad’s” budget given “Flag’s” larger number of characters and backgrounds, said Telecinco Cinema CEO Ghislain Barrois. Budget is huge for Spain these days, though small compared with high-end international animation standards.

A family adventure movie, “Flag” turns on a Texas millionaire’s ambitions to claim the moon as his private property but stopping him are a plucky 12-year-old, his g.f. and a robot chameleon.

Mixing European and U.S. talent — an increasingly common tactic on more commercially ambitious European animation — “Flag” was written by El Toro founder and NASA fanboy Jordi Gasull (“Lope”), Javier Barreira and Neil Landau (“Melrose Place”) from a treatment by Gasull and Patxi Amezcua, director of upcoming “The Seventh Floor,” with Ricardo Darin and Belen Rueda.

Telecinco Cinema’s Barrois and Alvaro Augustin are presenting a first-draft screenplay at Berlin.

Even though it’s an animation, “Flag” is meticulously researched, Barrois said. Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, NASA’s most experienced spacewalker, is technical supervisor, Gasull added.

Telecinco Cinema is also presenting the $13 million “Air Cocaine,” an English-language action thriller from Jorge Sanchez-Cabezudo (“The Night of the Sunflowers”), about a Ghana-based Spanish drug runner whose narcotics-loaded plane crashes in the desert, enraging the Colombian cartel, desert tribes and Al Qaeda.

“Tad,” a Peruvian treasure romp, is a B.O. and sales hit, taking $24 million in Spain to become the country’s highest-grossing toon. It has just nabbed a first-weekend, third-ranking $1.5 million for Paramount in Mexico.

“Clearly, ‘Tad’ has potential outside Spain,” Barrois noted.

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