Celluloid high on Furry Freak claymation pic

Co. aims to secure presales, co-prod'n partners for $22 mil pic

Celluloid Dreams has inked to handle international sales on a feature length claymation adaptation of cult 1960s comic series “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers,” one of a series of newly signed animation projects.

“Grass Roots: The Movie” will be helmed by David Borthwick, one of the directors of Pathe’s CGI toon “The Magic Roundabout” and “The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb,” and produced by his Bolex Bros. Studio.

In Cannes, Celluloid is showing a promo reel and first draft of the $22.5 million project with the aim of securing presales and co-production partners.

Pic brings the hippie characters into the modern world in a plot featuring cannabis plants that have been genetically modified as part of a sinister government plot to take over the market.

Celluloid is also handling sales on toon “Kirikou and the Wild Beasts” — a segment of which will receive the Cannes fest’s first ever children’s red carpet gala screening today.

Occasion will feature a cinema lesson given by “Kirikou” helmer Michel Ocelot, and a concert by Youssou N’Dour.

“We’ve always been involved with animation,” said Celluloid topper Hengameh Panahi, “but it is occupying a much bigger place in our line up now.”

As well as handling international sales on Wallace and Gromit pics “The Wrong Trousers” “A Grand Day Out”, “A Close Shave” and other Aardman titles, Celluloid also distributed internationally Sylvain Chomet’s Oscar nominated Gallic hit “The Triplets of Belleville.”

Other recently signed animation titles are the $12.8 million “Chico and Rita” (Besame Mucho), a Cuban musical love story by Oscar winner Fernando Trueba (“Belle Epoque”) and Javier Mariscal with animation by Barcelona’s Estudio Mariscal, which is producing, with the UK’s Magic Light co-producing. A French co-production partner is in negotiation.

Story was penned with Spanish writer Ignacio Martinez de Pison.

In post-production is the $6.4 million “Snow White…The Sequel,” a humorous adult version of the classic kids’ tale helmed by Picha, director of “The Missing Link”, Shame of the Jungle” and “The Big Bang”. Pic produced by Belgium’s YC Alligator will be ready in the fall.

In France, Metropolitan is planning to release Picha’s earlier titles on DVD this summer.

Celluloid also has two more family orientated titles in the works. “U” is a $6.6 million first feature length film by Gallic children’s author Gregoire Solotareff and Serge Elissalde, currently in production. French financed pic produced by Valerie Scherman’s Prima Linea will be distributed theatrically in France by Gebeka and Wild Side has taken video rights.

The $6.8 million “Brendan and the Secret of Kells” by Irish director Tomm Moore, is a Franco-Irish co-production that will be the next big animated project of “Kirikou” producer Les Armateurs.

Panahi described pic, based on a historical Irish text, as “The Name of the Rose” for children.”

Celluloid will also be unveiling another animation project tonight.