LYON, France — Helsinki’s Animaker is re-teaming with Hamburg’s Ulysses Filmproduktion, Copenhagen’s A. Film Production and Galway’s Magma Prods. to produce 3D “Niko 2 — Family Affairs,” part of a budding Euro toon pic franchise.
The original 2D “Niko and the Way to the Stars,” which was released in 2008, centered on a tyke reindeer learning to fly so as to save Santa. It took 3.1 million admissions worldwide and Weinstein Co. gave it a DVD release as “The Flight Before Christmas” in the U.S. It was nommed in 2009 by the European Film Academy.
Nordisk Film, which has taken Scandinavian distrib rights, has skedded a world premiere in Finland for Oct. 12, 2012.
Animaker once more lead produces, with the same partners.
Pic is budgeted at Euros 7.3 million ($10 million), said Animaker co-owner and “Niko 2” producer Hannu Tuomainen.
“Niko 2 — Family Affairs” turns on boy reindeer Niko’s discomfit when his mother re-marries and Niko is forced to look after a cute little stepbrother. Events happen a day or two before Christmas.
“This is mainstream adventure but we’re also dealing in the complexity of the modern family. That may be why Niko stood out in the market: It had serious content but it was easy to follow and like,” Tuomainen said.
Screenplay is written by “Niko” scribes Tuomainen and Ireland-based Marteinn Thorisson. Kari Juusonen returns to direct, this time with Dane Jorgen Lerdam (“Olsen Gang Gets Polished”).
Studio animation will be provided by Finland’s Anima Vitae, which co-owns Animaker with Tuomainen’s Cinemaker, Hamburg’s Pictorion Magma Animation and A. Film Production.
“Niko 2” is in pre-production, awaiting completion finance in the next month, Tuomainen said. It will be presented at this week’s Cartoon Movie, which runs March 2-4 in Lyon.
“Stars” launched the careers of several collaborators. Editor and production supervisor Antti Haikala has gone on to direct the TF1-sold “Santa’s Magic Crystal,” skedded for Christmas release.
In Lyon, Juusonen will also pitch “The Sampo,” a Scandinavian fantasy adventure toon feature, now in development.