BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s Juan Jose Campanella, director of runaway hit “El secreto de sus ojos” (The Secret in Their Eyes), is preparing to helm his first animated film, with a E6 million ($8.94 million) budget.

“Metegol” (Foosball) is about the plight of a foosball team trying to reunite after their table is dismantled and scrapped. It is set for a 2012 or 2013 release.

Film is based on “Memorias de un wing derecho” (Memories of a Right Winger), a short story about the ruminations of a foosball figure by the late Argentine cartoonist-writer Roberto Fontanarrosa.

Campanella, who has directed episodes of “House” and “Law and Order” and Oscar-nommed “The Son of the Bride,” is writing with Eduardo Sacheri, with whom he co-wrote “Secret” based on a novel of his, as well as Gaston Gorali (“City Hunters”) and Axel Kuschevatzky, a co-writer of the hot Argentine adaptations of “The Nanny” and “Married with Children.”

The production team is still being lined up, Campanella told Variety.

The project comes as animated cinema grows in Argentina, buoyed by recent hits and global sales potential.

“Manuelita” and “Patourizto” are among the top 10 blockbusters in Argentine history.

Illusion Studios, a local production outfit behind this year’s hard-boiled hoodlum satire “Boogie, el aceitoso,” has arranged co-production deals with Canada, India, Mexico, Spain and other countries for the toon pics. “Boogie” is poised for release in Mexico after a good 2D and 3D run in Argentina.

Argentina and other parts of Latin America are attracting attention for low-production costs and animators that offer a fresh look, given that many are trained with the classic approach of pencils compared with the mostly digital-trained in Asia and Europe.