For over a decade, France has been a top purveyor of such auteurish toons as “Kirikou,” “Persepolis” and “A Cat in Paris.” Today, a new breed of producer-driven projects are about to come into the market with the ambition to target the same demo as Hollywood animated tentpoles.

A driving factor of that upward production trend is the proven international potential of toons in theaters and in secondary markets. “The French box office has its limits, (but) distributors and audiences worldwide generally have an appetite for French animated fare,” explains Yann Marchet, program chair at Paris FX, the two-day forum dedicated to animation and visual effects.

“The Ghosts of Pere Lachaise” and “Ballerina” are two mainstream animated features budgeted in the 20 million Euros range. Each is backed by powerful indie players who are venturing into the toon biz with established animation studios as partners.

Alain Attal at Les Productions du Tresor, whose credits include Maiwenn’s “Polisse” and Guillaume Canet’s “Blood Ties,” is producing “Lachaise” with Carine Ruszniewski and Carole Lambert at De Films en Aiguille, the outfit behind Shola Lynch’s Toronto-preeming “Free Angela & All Political Prisoners.” “Ballerina” is directed by Eric Warin and Eric Summer. Set in 1879 Paris, it follows the adventures of an orphan girl from Brittany who dreams of becoming a ballerina at the Paris Opera. A French mini-major has already boarded “Ballerina” to distribute and handle international sales.

Meanwhile, “Lachaise,” penned and helmed by Antoine Colomb and Guillaume Rio, is set in contemporary Paris, at the world’s most-visited cemetery. It centers on a seven-year-old girl who makes friends with Pere Lachaise inhabitants, notably Frederic Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Moliere, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison.

As Marc Vandeweyer, general director of co-production forum Cartoon Movie sums it up, “European producers have realized that in today’s crowded market, animated films need to be heavily-marketed to have a shot at holding up to American tentpoles — and that’s undoubtedly raised the entry level.”


11:00 a.m. Blue Bolt Studio: “Game of Thrones” and “Great Expectations.” Speakers: “Great Expectations” executive producer Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor” and vfx supervisor “Angela Barson”
12:15 p.m. Cinesite: “Skyfall” visual effects
2:30 p.m. Double Negative: “The Dark Knight Rises” visual effects. Speaker: Philippe Leprince, head of lighting & rendering, Double Negative.

9:30 a.m. Cube Creative: “5.80 meters” Lionel Fages and Nicolas Deveaux show Cube Creatives’s short about a colony of giraffes practicing to compete in an Olympic pool.
2:30 p.m. Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” 3D. Speaker: Matthew Bristowe (Joint Managing Director, Stereo Conversion) Prime Focus
3:15 p.m. Prime Focus : “Dredd” 3D. Speaker: Prime Focus senior vfx supervisor Jon Thum.

French upstarts crash vfx party