Annecy: France’s Didier Brunner Sets ‘Big Bad Fox’ Movie, Sherlock, Menino Spinoffs (EXCLUSIVE)

Didier Brunner

Brunner’s Folivari also boards anticipated ‘My Family and the Wolf’ from Barcelona’s Headless

ANNECY — France’s Didier Brunner, a co-creator of Europe’s modern upscale animation, is preparing a “Big Bad Fox” movie, plus animated TV series spin-offs based around the figures of Sherlock Holmes and Menino, the plucky stick boy hero of Brazil’s “The Boy and the World.”

Paris-based Folivari, founded by Brunner in 2014, has also boarded “My Family and the Wolf,” an anticipated new animated feature from Barcelona’s Headless which reps Folivari’s first live-action film. With ten movies or series coming down the pike, Folivari now rates as not only one of the most prestigious but also most active of animation production houses in Europe.

The 2016 slate represents a full-flowering of Folivari which Brunner launched after being bought out of Les Armateurs, which he established in 1997. Of animation producers, only DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, Disney and Japan’s Studio Ghibli have scored more Academy Award nominations than Brunner. He receives the 2016 Annecy Festival’s Honorary Cristal at fest’s June 18 closing ceremony.

Co-directed by Benjamin Renner, whose debut feature “Ernest and Celestine” scored an Academy Award nomination, “Big Bad Fox and Other Tales” has been produced as a triptych of humor-laced TV half-hours, sold internationally by Paris-based Superights. The three animal fables, about a cack-handed fox, and a rabbit, duck and pig delivering a stork’s baby and then Christmas presents, will air on Canal Plus in France from Christmas 2016.

Linked by interludes featuring a muppet forest owl designed by Renner, they will now also form the basis of a theatrical feature, ready for delivery from early 2017. Folivari is in talks with a French distributor for a theatrical release, Brunner said.

Animated in 2D, “Big Bad Wolf” adapts three Renner comic books. Also produced by Brunner, late 2012’s “Ernest and Celestine” scored 1.14 admissions in France, earning an around $9.4 million in gross box office, making it Studiocanal’s eighth biggest release in France in the last five years.

Based on six French comic books which were written by Jean-Blaise Djian and Olivier Legrand and illustrated by David Etien, “The Baker Street Four” will be a six-hour animated series. It turns on a gaggle of street urchins, dubbed the Baker Street Irregulars by Arthur Conan Doyle, which Sherlock Holmes uses as a form of street spy network. In the comic books, its number has been reduced to three, two teen boys and a girl who, inspired by Holmes, set out to solve their own mysteries in “a kind of ‘Oliver Twist’ London,” Brunner said. Legrand will co-author the screenplays.  Writing will begin in July/August. Folivari co-produces with the Blue Spirit animation studio in Angouleme.

In further news, Folivari will executive produce “My Family and the Wolf,” a longterm project of Barcelona animation trio Adrian Garcia, Alfredo Torres and Victor Maldonado (“Nocturna”), also known as Headless, which is set up at Christine Ponzevera’s Paris-based Nectarious Films. A live action film, with some animated sequences, the family horror film “My Family and the Wolf” will feature “a strong European cast,” said Brunner.

“Spanish creators are very singular and highly talented,” he added.

As announced late late week, Folivari is also teaming with Pierre Sissmann’s Cyber Group Studios and Batholemy Fougea’s Winds, the company behind the 2013 Cesar-winning documentary “On the Way to School,” to produce “Menino and the Children of the World.” Enrolling the lead character from Brazilian Ale Abreu’s “The Boy and the World” – which won Annecy’s top Cristal in 2014 and was nominated this year for an Academy Award – the short format docu-series mixes live action and animation as Menino visits children from different parts of the world and sees how they live. A first episode will be completed this August. The first episode, to be completed this August, is directed by Pauline Brunner and written by Pauline Brunner and Marion Verle. It will be sold worldwide by Cyber Group Studios. “Menino” will be presented at September’s Cartoon Forum in Toulouse.

Of previously announced projects, Tanhuy de Kermel’s pre-school fantasy adventure “SamSam, the Tiniest of the Great Heroes,” which is made in 3D CGI, was unveiled at March’s Cartoon Movie. A pilot is available, with a view to shooting first half or September 2017, Brunner said. Mac Guff will provide animation. Juan Antin’s Inca era eco-themed adventure “Pachamana” will be co-produced by France’s O2B Films and Luxembourg’s Dog House Films. It initiates pre-production in September.

Lead-produced by Jean-Charles Osterero’s Julianne Films and based on a celebrated manga series written and illustrated by Japan’s Jiro Taniguchi, “The Summit of the Gods” is now at advanced screenplay stage.

Turning on a young Japanese climber who discovers George Mallory’s camera, or so he thinks, and then is drawn into a climbing mentor’s plan to solo the South-West face of Everest in winter without oxygen, “The Summit of the Gods” will be made in 2D/CGI, targeting family audiences and adult/YA audiences.

The director of animation on “Ernest and Celestine,” Patrick Imbert helms from a screenplay by Magalie Pouzol, writer of episodes in two French TV series, “Camping Paradis” and “Polo.”

“Summit’s” subject is rare for animation. “The Baker Street Four’s” six-hour limited series structure also. Both underscore the scale of Folivari’s ambitions.

“We’d like to make films and TV series with real market potential but which are also the signature of an original, high-quality auteur,” Brunner said.

That is no cakewalk, but no pipe dream either. Ready for delivery in May 2017, TV series “Ernest and Celestine, The Collection” has sold to 25 countries to date. Airing in April 2015, “The Long, Long Holidays,” produced by Brunner at Les Armateurs, drew 1.3 million viewers on public broadcaster channel France 3, a robust and encouraging result.

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