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Duo pivot to ‘Spivet’

Bonham Carter, Bates board Jeunet's English-lingo film

Helena Bonham Carter and Kathy Bates will topline Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s high-profile 3D project “The Young and Prodigious Spivet,” an adaptation of Reif Larsen’s novel.

Pic marks the helmer’s first English-language foray since he directed “Alien: Resurrection” in 1997.

Jeunet is one of France’s most successful filmmakers, with credits that include “Amelie,” which grossed $173.9 million worldwide.

“Spivet” turns on a 12-year-old boy with extraordinary skills who leaves his family in Montana and takes off on a cross-country adventure to the Smithsonian Museum to receive a prize. Newcomer Kyle Catlett will star as Spivet; Callum Keith Rennie has been cast as his father.

The adaptation was co-written by Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant, his co-scribe on “Amelie” and “A Very Long Engagement.”

Jeunet, who completed the acquisition of the book’s rights last summer (Daily Variety, June 28), said “Spivet” will be much more realistic than any of his films. “Its a very touching story,” he said.

The helmer described the pics as character-driven in the vein of “Amelie” but with some spectacular vfx and scenery.

“Its a new challenge for me,” Jeunet said. “First off, it’s in English and it’s in 3D.”

The filmmaker said he studied different kinds of 3D movies, from Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” to Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo.”

Pic’s key crew includes “Hugo” stereographer Demetri Portelli and several of Jeunet’s collaborators on “Amelie”: editor Herve Schneid, costume designer Madeline Fontaine and set designer Alice Bonetto.

Pic is produced by Epithete, Tapioca Films, Jeunet’s Paris-based outfit, and Filmarto, in association with Gaumont, which will distribute in France.

Gaumont’s international sales team, headed by Cecile Gaget, will unveil a pre-production show reel to Cannes buyers today.

Gaget told Variety that “Spivet” has already charmed a flurry of buyers at script stage and pre-sold to South Korea (Daisy), Middle East (Four Stab), Benelux (Belga), India/Turkey (Tanweer), Greece (Odeon), Poland (Monolith) and Blitz (the former Yugoslavia).

“It’s a perfect fit for Jeunet’s whimsical, dreamlike, luminous and colorful universe,” Gaget said.

She adde that she and her team have also received offers from German, Swiss and Eastern European distribs. CAA reps U.S. rights.

Lensing will begin June 30 in Alberta, Canada. Delivery is scheduled for October 2013.

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