Animated feature films are still relatively rare on the European scene, although a growing number of producers are now putting together low-to medium-budget deals. The studios are well aware that with the right project, a feature can prove far more profitable than a long series.
The most successful feature territory is Germany, where theatrical audiences have demonstrated a taste for home-produced animation. The cult feature “Werner” was the biggest box office hit of 1990, and the release last fall of the $8 million “Asterix in America” has shown a profit on its German and French release alone.
Here’s a look at some of the animated feature films slated to come out of Europe in the near future.
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* Berlin’s Hahn Film is currently following up “Asterix” with a feminist spoof on the same characters, “Feminax and Valkyrax.”
* TFC Trickompany in Hamburg is producing the sequel to “Werner” – “Werner the Metulisator” – for Senator Film. It is being directed by Gerhard Hahn and is slated for release in spring ’96. TFC is also working on “Little Asshole” for Senator, for release at the end of ’96, and “Pippi Longstocking,” together with Nelvana, Svensk Filmindustri and Iduna.
* “Taxandria” has recently been completed by Iblis Films in Belgium, Praxino Pictures in the Netherlands, Bibo Film in Germany and Les Productions Dussart in France. The film preemed at last month’s Brussels Film Festival. Most of the $10 million budget was put up by pay TV channel FilmNet.
* France Animation is in preproduction on “Gismo,” which is provisionally set to be directed by Roman Polanski in his first excursion into animation. The script by Brit Paul Mayersberg is an adaptation of Milo Manara’s erotic comic strip, “Le Delia”
* Also in France, La Fabrique is set to go into production on its feature “Castle of Monkeys.” The German-French co-production is the first animation project to get investment from British Screen.
* In the U.K., Amblimation just wrapped production of “Balto” before moving to the U.S. for post-production. The movie was largely produced using the Softimage Toonz computer system. It was the last production for Amblimation in London before moving its whole operation to Los Angeles.
* Another feature now looks set to begin in the U.K., with an adaptation of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” at Cosgrove Hall. The direct-to-video production is part of BMG Video’s $15 million launch into the animation sector.
* In Dublin, Screen Animation Ireland (the former Don Bluth studio) is producing “All Dogs Go to Heaven II.”
* The once ailing Italian animation industry has sprung back to life with a feature now in production at La Lanterna Magica in Turin. “The Blue Arrow” is directed by Enzo d’Alo and will be distributed by Angelika Films.