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Vanguard inks deal with ‘Panda’ director

John Stevenson signs producing/directing pact with company

Vanguard Films has formed an overall producing/directing deal with “Kung Fu Panda” co-director John Stevenson.

Vanguard topper John Williams made the announcement Friday at the American Film Market.

The company also unveiled a strategic alliance with former Lakeshore International President Peter Rogers? new company, Moviemill, to arrange financing and distribution for Vanguard projects.

Stevenson’s first directing project for Vanguard will be the live action/CGI hybrid “Alien Rock Band” with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics attached as a producer. Story revolves around a garage band from Earth which journeys across the Universe to qualify for a shot at superstardom in an Intergalactic Battle of the Bands.

Stevenson worked with William on “Shrek” and his credits include “Madagascar” and “James and the Giant Peach.” He will also direct Vanguard’s CG-animated film “Rotten Island,” based on the book by Shrek author William Steig about an island where monsters reign free until a beautiful flower changes everything.

Williams and Stevenson will produce several other Vanguard titles including “Buzby,” described as the world’s first high speed animated romantic comedy starring fruit flies, written by Jason Mayland with Phil Robinson (“Hubert’s Brain”) attached to direct; “City of Dragons,” a live-action martial arts movie with supernatural elements set in modern day Shanghai, written by Rob Moreland (“Space Chimps”); and “Atomic Circus,” a live-action fantasy adventure story featuring a fast-talking con-man in a post-apocalyptic world, written by Athena Gam.

Rogers worked at Lakeshore Intl. for seven years, during which the company produced, financed and distributed over 40 films including “Million Dollar Baby,” “Runaway Bride” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” Before forming Moviemill, Rogers was most recently President of Omega Entertainment, which produced “Conviction.”

“Vanguard is particularly adept at painting a bull’s-eye on entertainment properties that resonate with global audiences,” said Rogers.

Vanguard titles include “Space Chimps,” “Happily N’ever After,” “Seven Years in Tibet” and “The Tuxedo.” Vanguard’s “On the Road,” a collaboration with American Zoetrope directed by Walter Salles, has just wrapped principal photography and its rock comedy “Vinyl,” directed by Sara Sugarman, is in post-production.

The deal was repped by CAA.

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