You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Curious puts stamp on features

Animation co. undergoes 'Mega' upgrade

NEW YORK — Up to now, animation shop Curious Pictures has operated largely as a background player. The Gotham studio, which started mostly as a commercials producer, provides animation for shows like Disney’s “Little Einsteins” and Cartoon Network’s “Codename: Kids Next Door” and for videogames like Rock Band.

Now the shop is poised to take on a bigger role as a sort of alt-Pixar with several feature projects in the pipeline.

The quirky shop takes casual Friday to new levels: On Friday afternoons, staff hop up onstage and karaoke to Rock Band, and even director Michel Gondry and Wyclef Jean have stepped up. The common denominator among many of these external creative types milling about Curious is partner Leopoldo Gout.

The vivacious Gout, 35, is shepherding Curious into the animated feature arena as well as working on his own diverse projects — directing videos for Jean, seeing his novel “Ghost Radio” published by Harper Collins next September, co-directing animated feature “Godiva” with brother Everardo for Lakeshore Entertainment, and writing graphic novel “Daniel X” with bestselling juggernaut James Patterson.

Embarking on its 16th year, Curious is poised to bring animation to new and bizarre levels with its upcoming film projects. Edgy creators like Gondry, Dan Clowes and Darren Aronofsky have signed on for feature toons that move beyond the kid aud.

“Megalomania” will be co-helmed by Gondry and his 16-year-old son Paul and scripted by Clowes (“Ghost World”). Project is based on drawings and characters created by Paul, who often comes by the studio after school to brainstorm ideas or slip into the motion capture suit to flesh out characters.

Pic, set in the future in an unspecified city, involves friends who have become enemies. Gondry says it mirrors his relationship with his son.

“We’re starting from the universe of my son, who’s very rebellious, extravagant and sometimes violent,” Gondry explains. “These two characters represent the two of us; my son is the dictator, and I am the rebel.” The agreement’s not yet final, but Gondry says Steve Buscemi has agreed to voice the dictator. Gout and Curious are co-producing with Georges Bermann from Partizan.

“South for the Winter,” co-helmed by Dan Schrecker and Jeremy Dawson and exec produced by Aronofsky, is still in the early stages of animation. The musical is about migrating birds flying south and the one little guy who decides to break from the pack and make it as a musician. “It’s kind of a ‘Jazz Singer’ but for birds,” says Aronofsky.

Kiddie chart-topper Dan Zanes — the Bruce Springsteen of the diaper set — is onboard as music supervisor for what Schrecker says will be traditional 3-D animation, but in a style not yet seen. They’re also working with an Indian studio, Itina, on the animation. “South” creators have yet to seek a distributor; they’ll first assemble pic’s package.

“We come from independent stock, so we’re open to that, but we’ve also worked at the studios,” says Aronofsky. “We want whoever gives creative freedom to let Dan and Jeremy do what they need to do.”

“We’re really bending the rules of what a feature animated film could look like,” says Gout.

Gout is also in the final stages of pre-production on a holiday special for late 2008 called “Little Spirit.” The 44-minute film is a co-production between Curious, Mediaedge Entertainment, Macy’s and NBC, featuring narration by Danny DeVito as a quintessential Gotham cabbie.

Gout also manages the company’s partnership to develop properties with author Patterson, and is in development on “Beer Belly and Fat Boy,” an animated/live-action feature. “I couldn’t be happier in this country,” enthuses Mexican-born Gout, who studied sculpture and painting in London before coming to Gotham to show his art. With his brother, Gout started a production company in Mexico called Casa Bunuel.

The shop’s work can also be seen in Brett Morgen’s docu “Chicago 10” and in the animated segs in Morgan Spurlock’s newest, “Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?”

It’s a long way from ’80s TV sensation “Pee Wee’s Playhouse,” where Curious partners Steve Oakes, Susan Holden and Richard Winkler met up. But the Playhouse hasn’t completely faded away — original lights and props from the wacky series are housed in the two floors Curious has in a building on Lafayette Street in Gotham’s East Village.

More Film

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

  • Zac Efron Amanda Seyfried

    Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried Join Animated Scooby-Doo Film as Fred and Daphne

    Zac Efron has signed on to voice Fred Jones while Amanda Seyfried will voice Daphne Blake in Warner Bros.’ animated Scooby-Doo feature film “Scoob.” It was revealed earlier this month that Will Forte had been set to voice Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, while Gina Rodriguez would be voicing Velma Dinkley. The mystery-solving teens and their talking [...]

  • 'Staff Only' Review: Cultures And Values

    Film Review: 'Staff Only'

    Marta (Elena Andrada) is 17, from Barcelona and alternately bored and mortified to be on a Christmas vacation to Senegal with her estranged dad, Manel (Sergi López), and annoying little brother, Bruno (Ian Samsó). For her, the freedoms of imminent adulthood, such as the occasional poolside mojito, are tantalizing close but still technically forbidden, rather [...]

  • Rocketman

    Candid 'Rocketman' Dares to Show Elton John as 'Vulnerable,' 'Damaged,' 'Ugly'

    Elton John movie “Rocketman” dares to portray the singer’s personality early in his career to have been, at times, “ugly,” Taron Egerton – who plays the pop star – told an audience at London’s Abbey Road Studios Friday, following a screening of 15 minutes of footage from the film. It is a candid portrayal, showing [...]

  • Ben Affleck

    Ben Affleck's Addiction Drama Set for Awards-Season Release

    Warner Bros. has given Ben Affleck’s untitled addiction drama an awards-season-friendly release date of Oct. 18. The film, which has been known previously as “The Has-Been” and “Torrance,” is directed by Gavin O’Connor and stars Affleck as a former basketball player struggling with addiction, which has led to him losing his wife. As part of [...]

  • Jordan Peele'Us' film premiere, Arrivals, New

    Jordan Peele Explains the Meaning Behind the 'Us' Michael Jackson Reference

    Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us” is filled with pop culture references, from “Jaws” to “Goonies.” But the most divisive might be right in his opening sequence. Warning, minor spoilers ahead. The movie about a couple (played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) and their children being hunted and brutalized by a mysterious family that looks just [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content