Peru toons up 3D feature

'Pirates' opening is largest ever for locally-made film

LIMA — Peru’s small movie industry is gearing up to break records with South America’s first locally produced feature-length film in 3D.

“Piratas en el Callao” (“Pirates in Callao”), adapted from a children’s book of the same name, is the story of a young boy who travels back to the 17th century to battle buccaneers off the coast of Peru.

Director Eduardo Schuldt said he chose the story, which is wildly popular with school kids in Peru, because it will easily make the jump to other countries. “This is the kind of story with universal appeal,” says Schuldt of Peru’s Alpamayo Entertainment.

“Pirates” opened Feb. 24 at 34 theaters in Lima, and another six in La Paz, the capital of neighboring Bolivia. Opening is the largest ever for a locally made film, rivaling only those of blockbusters like “Shrek.”

“We are treating this movie as something very big,” says Carlos Chavez, sales manager of United Intl. Pictures in Peru, which is distributing the pic.

After the Peru/Bolivia bow, “Pirates” will open in Central America and Argentina in April and the rest of the region in June. The film will be known as “Pirates of the Pacific” outside Peru. Alpamayo has already signed a deal with China’s Shanghai Animation to translate the film into Mandarin for 2006.

Besides being the first full-length 3D film produced in South America — Brazil’s “Xuxinha e os maxixes do punzao,” which opens in June, is a 2D/3D combo — “Pirates” is also the first Peruvian film with its own product line.

Alpamayo has signed deals to market T-shirts, clothing and lunchboxes with “Pirate” images. Agreements have also been inked with a fast-food chain and snack company.

“This movie has created a great deal of excitement throughout the industry. A Peruvian film has never received so much attention,” says Schuldt.

Schuldt put together a team of 15 animators who worked six days a week, 15 hours a day, to produce the 75-minute film, which took 18 months to make at a cost of $500,000.

Alpamayo began work on its second 3D film on Feb. 1. The still untitled movie is an adaptation of another book by Hernan Garrido Lecca, author of “Pirates in Callao.”