Korean toon ‘Sky’ draws Samsung coin

Pic claims to be first animated film using Frazier lens camera

CANNES — Korean conglom Samsung is fully financing a hugely ambitious, technologically groundbreaking animated movie, “Skyquest,” which is likely to become the most expensive Korean film ever made.

The futuristic eco-drama, being shot in English by director Moon S. Kim, is due to be completed by early 2002. Pic’s co-produced by Sunmin Park of L.A.-based Maxmedia, whose credits include Cruise/Wagner’s upcoming Nicole Kidman starrer “The Others” and Chen Kaige’s “The Emperor and the Assassin.”

The Korean co-producer is Kay Hwang of local shingle Tin House.

Japanese information technology company Prime Systems, which recently launched an IPO, has come on board for all Japanese rights at a pricetag of about $3 million.

With the voice cast yet to be set, the overall budget of the film, which has been in production for some time, has yet to be finalized. But the figure is likely to start at $20 million and could go much higher, depending on cast and the possibility of other high-level creative partnerships in Hollywood.

“Skyquest” is a futuristic story about a manmade safety zone engineered to protect its citizens from the planet’s environmental holocaust. Problem is, the zone exists by sucking resources out of the surrounding world.

The drama centers on a policewoman whose job is to defend the zone, and her romance with a man who is leading a rebellion from outside.

Pic combines composite, multilayered 2-D and 3-D animation with live-action footage. It claims to be the first animated film to use a high-definition camera with Panavision’s new motion-controlled Frazier lens. There are only two such lenses in use worldwide, the other at Lucasfilm.

Samsung is bankrolling the film through its $500 million venture capital arm, which funds information technology, biotech and movies. Its involvement in “Skyquest” is part of its commitment to research and develop groundbreaking digital technologies, which are being used to produce and market the film.