Playtone ‘Fly’ goes CGI

'Ant' also replants as WB, U take on bug infestation

Playtone has shifted from Greek weddings to a swarm of CGI insects.

Partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman have made a Universal deal to turn the Mary Howitt classic tale “The Spider and the Fly” into a CGI film that will be written and directed by Bradley Peyton, helmer of the short “Evelyn, The Cutest Evil Dead Girl.”

At the same time, Playtone has shifted “The Ant Bully” from U to Warner Bros., the studio that just wrapped production on the Robert Zemeckis-directed Hanks starrer “The Polar Express.” Playtone, which produced “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” produced “Polar” with Zemeckis’ Image Movers.

“Ant Bully” is an adaptation of the John Nickle picture book about a boy who gets shrunk to insect size after hosing down the inhabitants of an anthill with his water gun. He’s sentenced to hard labor in the colony, where he learns the virtues of teamwork as the ants successfully fight off a wasp attack. The film comes to WB with a script written by John Davis, co-writer and director of the CGI hit “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.” Davis will direct “Ant Bully.”

Hanks and Goetzman will work with Universal on “The Spider and the Fly,” the cautionary tale of a fetching young fly who gets flattered by a spider who tries to charm her into joining him in the spider web. Does he mean those compliments, or is he just hungry? It’s based on the 1829 poem by Howitt, which was in the public domain.

The producers got their first taste of animation with “The Polar Express,” the Castle Rock-based adaptation of the award-winning Chris Van Allsburg picture book. A mix of live action and 3-D animation that is created by motion capture technology, the pic is a “Cast Away” reteam of Hanks, Zemeckis and scribe William Broyles. The film will be in theaters Thanksgiving 2004.

Playtone is also prepping a CGI adaptation of the Maurice Sendak 1963 book “Where the Wild Things Are,” with Hanks and Goetzman producing with Sendak’s partner, John Carls. “Pocahontas” co-director Eric Goldberg will direct. It is being written by Michael Goldenberg (“Peter Pan”).

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