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‘Rio’ helmer Carlos Saldanha inks Fox pact

Five-year deal covers development of live-action, toon projects

Rio” helmer Carlos Saldanha, whose Brazilian roots inspired the look and soundtrack of 20th Century Fox’s toon, has inked an exclusive five-year production and development deal with the studio.

Pact is a sign of Fox’s faith in the filmmaker. Deal encompasses live-action projects as well as animation.

Rio” grossed nearly $500 million worldwide and inspired a sequel, “Rio 2,” currently in the works at Blue Sky Studios and Fox Animation with Saldanha developing and directing. Before “Rio,” Saldanha was a helmer on Fox’s “Ice Age” toons, which have grossed more than $2.8 billion worldwide.

Saldanha is developing “Alienology” for the studio. Toon comes from the “Ology” illustrated fantasy book series by author Dugald Steer. He has yet to helm a live-action pic.

For Fox, the deal locks up one of the studio’s most consistent hitmakers. For Saldanha, the length of the pact gives him security and the freedom to develop in new arenas. The inclusion of live-action projects is a sign of the studio’s faith in the helmer.

“Rio” drew heavily from the culture of Brazil and won plaudits for its creative use of music. Saldanha surrounded himself with fellow Brazilians during the pic’s development and production, including musician Sergio Mendes, who served as an exec music producer. Mendes’ classic bossa nova tune “Mas Que Nada” got an update for a romantic scene in the film, which earned an Oscar nom for song.

WME and the law firm Newhouse Porter Hubbard rep Saldanha.

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