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Focus swoons for toon

Universal arm to back Burton pic

NEW YORK — Universal specialty film arm Focus Features is getting into the animation biz, backing Tim Burton-produced “9,” from helmer Shane Acker.

Based on Acker’s short of the same name, surreal fantasy takes place in a parallel world where humanity is threatened. Timur Bekmambetov, Jim Lemley and Dana Ginsburg also produce.

Helmer describes his CGI pic as having a “stylized quality” that makes footage look like stop-motion animation.

Scribe Pamela Pettler (Warner Bros.’ upcoming “Corpse Bride”) has been brought aboard to pen the “9” screenplay.

Headed by co-prexies James Schamus and David Linde, Focus will take world rights on the pic, its first animated feature.

‘Stunningly detailed’

“The short was among the most extraordinary 10 minutes of film we’ve ever seen,” Burton and Bekmambetov said in a statement. “Shane has conceived a stunningly detailed, and hauntingly beautiful, universe that will resonate not only visually but emotionally.”

Burton’s live-action directorial effort “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is in current release.

Acker’s “9” short was recently honored with the animated film laurel at Comic-Con. Short is eligible for a 2005 Oscar nom after also winning gold at the Student Academy Awards.

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