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Meledandri, Tezuka fly to ‘Pluto’

Movie to be based on Naoki Urasawa's manga series

TOKYO — Christopher Meledandri, Illumination Ent. CEO and producer of Universal’s hit 3D toon “Despicable Me,” has inked a deal with Tokyo’s Tezuka Prod. to make a live-action/CGI version of comic “Pluto.”

Naoki Urasawa’s hit manga series ran from 2003 to 2009 in the Shogakukan mag “Big Comic Original,” and also sold 8.5 million copies in eight paperback collections. It took its inspiration from the “The World’s Strongest Robot” story in the iconic Astro Boy series of manga pioneer Osamu Tezuka.

Makoto Tezuka, the prexy of Tezuka Prod. and the son of company founder Osamu Tezuka, will serve as exec producer on the project.

“I hope that, by building a good partnership between Hollywood and Japan, we can create an epoch-making classic,” he said in a statement. Meledandri said, “With ‘Pluto,’ Naoki Urasawa has defined an imaginative world full of inventive action and adventure, but it was his characters and heartfelt story that compelled me towards acquiring these rights.”

The start of production and release date have yet to be announced.

Urasawa is also known for his smash “20th Century Boys” sci-fi/fantasy series that was turned into a hit live-action trilogy released in Japan 2008-09.

“Despicable Me” has shown tremendous legs in North America, grossing $247 million after 15 weeks on release, and has cumed $170 million so far across 40 international markets, and is still early in its run in most territories.

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