French filmmakers embrace 3-D

European market for stereoscopic pics heats up

French helmers are jumping on the stereoscopic 3-D bandwagon.

Patrice Leconte is prepping “Le Magasin des suicides,” a 3-D toon based on Jean Teule’s novel, while Pascal Herold will helm and produce “Cendrillon” (Cinderella).

Both projects were unveiled at the Annecy Animation Film Festival and Market, which kicked off Wednesday.

New to toons, Leconte has teamed with Arthur Qwak (“Dragon Hunters”) to co-direct.

Budgeted at e15 million ($21 million), toon is a dark comedy about a family-owned shop that sells suicide tools amid a depressed and suicidal world.

Leconte began mulling a 3-D treatment after taking the project to the Cannes mart last month.

“Cendrillon” will be produced by Herold and Family and Belgium’s Nexus at Delacave Studio in Paris.

Set in the Wild West, “Cinderella” is written by Alexandre and Jerome Apergis, Frederic Bolloc’h and Herold and is loosely based on the fairy tale by Charles Perrault.

Combined budget for the CGI and 3-D versions is $18.35 million, Herold said. The pic, which is 60% financed and already in production, will be ready for delivery in 2011.

Herold is talking with distributors at Annecy. “Currently French TV doesn’t want to pay more for stereoscopic 3-D. But there is certainly a lot of interest from France’s major international sales agents,” he said.

This year, even amid the economic recession, Annecy’s animation market has attracted 350 exhibitors and 200 buyers, nearly 10% more than last year. This increase reflects the global enthusiasm for stereo 3-D and toons in general.

“The fact that a director like Patrice Leconte is getting into animation shows that it’s a transgenerational genre, which gives directors a chance to tell different stories and explore new ways of telling them,” said market head Mickael Marin.

John Hopewell contributed to this story.