ANNECY — London-based WestEnd Films has initiated further early sales on Tomm Moore’s “Song of the Sea,” one of Europe’s most anticipated animation features. North American rights to the pic, which is the Irish director’s follow up to the Academy Award-nominated “The Secret of Kells,” were previously acquired by GKids.
Among deals struck by the producers with top-echelon European distribution companies, Studiocanal will distribute “Song of the Sea” in the U.K. and Ireland, Haut et Court in France and Brother Distribution in Benelux.
Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon, the company behind “Secret of Kells,” also lead produced “Song of the Sea.”
“Traditionally, pre-sales are rare for an independent animation. Independent distributors are reluctant to pre-buy an animation, unless a film is led by a studio in the U.S.,” said WestEnd Films’ Eve Schoukroun.
But, Schoukroun said, deals were closed with “people who loved the quality and commercial narrative of the script, then fell for the promo.”
In early deals, JinJin Pictures has acquired rights to South Korea. Other buyers include VTI (former-Yugoslavia), Vue Cinemas (Poland), Soraya Intercine Films (Indonesia), and ECS for the Middle East.
A pan-Latin America distribution deal is in advanced negotiations, Schoukroun said. She added that she was confident about finalizing sales to Scandinavia and Australia.
A modern fairy tale that is billed as a beautiful story for the whole family, “Song of the Sea” maintains Cartoon Saloon’s celebrated and exquisite 2D animation.
The film tells the story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse — the last Seal-child — who embark on a fantastic journey back to their home by the sea, across a fading world of ancient Irish legends and magic, a world that needs Saoirse to find her voice and sing the “Song of the Sea” to save all of fairy kind from being lost forever.
Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Lisa Hannigan, Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny lead the voice cast.
Bruno Coulais and Irish band Kila, who collaborated on “The Secret of Kells,” composed the original score.
Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon produced with a clutch of the top-notch arthouse animation producers in Europe: Luxembourg’s Melusine Prods., Belgium’s The Big Farm, Denmark’s Norlum and France’s Superprod.
In a show of confidence in “Song of the Sea,” Haut et Court will release it in December, going head on with Hollywood’s juggernaut animation offers.
For Schoukroun, “‘Song of the Sea’ could potentially be a crossover movie: the story line follows what kids want to see.”
“Some people say ‘arthouse is dead,’ but it’s just not true. When you get a great screenplay and great talent behind it, there is room for quality in the market,” Schoukroun insisted.