You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mikros Image Follows Success of ‘Asterix’ with ‘Mune’ and ‘Little Prince’

Paris-based VFX shop aims to reinforce operations in France, Belgium and Canada

PARIS – France’s Mikros Image, with headquarters in Paris and offices in Montreal, Los Angeles, Liège, Brussels, Luxembourg and Milan, plans to reinforce its animation and VFX work, revolving primarily around its three-main operation centers: Paris, Belgium and Montreal.

With a 250-strong workforce, the company is one of France’s veteran and most highly-respected VFX shingles.

Mikros rose to international recognition with its 2010 Oscar-winning toon short “Logorama” and bowed a dedicated animation division in June 2012 in Levallois-Perret, Paris.

Its first animation feature, Louis Clichy and Alexandre Astier’s €37 million ($42 million) “Asterix: the Land of the Gods,” was released in France on Nov. 26, clocking up 0.93 million admissions for distributor SND  in its opening week. The film’s cumulative 3.2 million admissions, complemented by worldwide sales, makes it one of the most successful French toon pics ever.

A further two animation projects – from Mikros’ operation in Montreal – are slated for 2015 releases: “The Little Prince” directed by Mark Osborne, based on Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s classic tale, and “Mune: Guardian of the Moon” – a fantasy animation feature co-directed by Benoit Philippon (“Lullaby of Pi”) and Alexandre Heboyan, a former DreamWorks animator (on “Kung Fu Panda” and “Monsters vs. Aliens”). “Mune” will bow in France this April and “Little Prince” in October.

Mikros now aims to ramp up animation work in its main operating centers, but without losing its project-based philosophy. “We want to maintain our prototype-driven individualised approach and not become a factory,” says Meesters. “We like to maintain an artistic feel and try to be as flexible and creative as possible. On ‘Asterix’ we made sure that we enabled the director to make the movie he wanted to make.”

Alongside recent animation projects, Mikros’ main focus continues to be VFX.

Since 2008, Mikros has worked on three Cannes Palme d’Or winners – Laurent Cantet’s “The Class,” Michael Haneke’s “Amour” and Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue Is the Warmest Color” – plus other critically acclaimed titles such as Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” and International Emmy Award-winning TV series, “The Returned.”

Mikros Image has opened up a new path for visual effects, offering a more refined and subtle approach,” suggests Matthieu Poirot-Delpech, co-president of the AFC Society of French Cinematographers. “Directors and cinematographers appreciate Mikros Images for their artistic language.”

“VFX is a tool at the service of the director,” says Mikros Image’s creative director, Julien Meesters. “In the case of ‘Rust and Bone’ we were so happy that we found the right approach that enabled Audiard to tell the story he wanted to tell. We knew we had to adapt our working process to his modus operandi. For example, when you work with Audiard you know there won’t be any motion control work, because that would kill his style.”

One of the company’s most recent VFX jobs – Benoit Jacquot’s “The Diary of a Chambermaid,” is in main competition at Berlin.

Meesters notes that there is rising demand for VFX work in France, inclusively from established French auteurs who previously eschewed this field. “Directors feel that they can now tell stories that they were unable to tell before,” he says.

But this can sometimes pose a budget challenge. “In many cases directors don’t plan on using VFX and then realise that it can help their picture, but often they haven’t budgeted for this contingency, which can be a problem. But there’s a clear upward trend towards use of VFX.”

Mikros complements its animation and VFX feature film work with commercials, and has garnered further kudos for high-profile advertising campaigns for Dior perfume “J’Adore,” and French paybox Canal Plus — notably with “The Bear” commercial, which won a Visual Effects Society Award.

“Our DNA is project-based,” explains Meesters. “That’s why you find animation, live action, commercials and VFX – what we like to do is to develop creativity in all these projects.”

In 2012 and 2013, Mikros won the prestigious César & Techniques award, attributed by the French Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Techniques and in Jan. 2015 won Best VFX supervisor award (commercials) in the first edition of the Digital Creation Genie Awards, organized within the Paris Images Trade Show.

Meesters recognizes that while the company aims to experiment and push forward the creative envelope, larger projects, in particular animation, make it necessary to structure operations to ensure that the company remains efficient at a larger scale. At its peak, Asterix involved 120 employees, which required major planning.

The company would also like to work on more VFX-driven feature films. “It’s really wonderful to work with directors like Michael Haneke, but we also like to work on VFX-heavy pure entertainment films,” says Meesters. “We have the talent to work on more effects-driven projects, but there aren’t many in France.”

In terms of expansion plans, Mikros aims to strengthen its key bases in Montreal, Belgium and France. “One of our main focuses is to strengthen our animation work, while keeping our talents and quality work growing in commercials and VFX,” says Meesters. “We would like to have a couple of animation films in each territory and be doing them at the same time. We also aim to reinforce our VFX work in Montreal. Our plans in the near future aren’t necessarily to expand to further territories. Our main objective is to reinforce our existing structures.”

The triangle of operations between Montreal, Belgium and France, all of which have their own tax rebate systems for animation and VFX work, enables Mikros to help producers structure their projects to take maximum advantage of available tax incentives.

However, Meesters main goal is for each operating center to enjoy its own autonomy. “In an ideal world, each country would oversee its own projects,” he says. All territories have their own possibilities. In Canada, we have an amazing talent base from throughout North America. In France, there’s a huge talent pool. In Belgium, there’s a strong tradition in comic strips animation and it’s starting to become stronger in VFX.”

The company also aims to maintain its independent status. “We don’t necessarily want to be part of a bigger group and only work on their projects,” says Meesters. “If we had an output deal that would open up possibilities but also close other doors. Illumination Mac Guff has had amazing success but we’re aiming to chart a different route.”

“We aim to become a fully-rounded international animation and VFX studio,” he concludes. “Let’s see how things develop…”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • DSCF6823.RAF

    Box Office: 'Angel Has Fallen' Heads for $20 Million Opening Weekend

    Lionsgate and Millennium’s “Angel Has Fallen” is performing above expectations, taking in $7.9 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales as it heads to a projected $20 million opening weekend. Early estimates originally placed the third installment of the “Fallen” series within the $12 million to $16 million range, but a solid 95% audience score on [...]

  • Juntos

    Juntos Films Production House Launches in Chile with Ambitious Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    Francisco Hervé of Panchito Films, Moisés Sepúlveda from Madriguera Films and Daniela Raviola, three of Chile’s most exciting international-minded independent producers, have together launched a new indie production house, Juntos Films. Hervé has written, directed (“The Power of Speech,” “The Lost City”) and produced (María Paz González ‘s “Daughter”) several feature films, documentaries and TV [...]

  • Noele trailer Anna Kendrick

    Disney Unveils 'Noelle' Trailer Starring Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader

    Among the many announcements at the D23 Expo, Disney debuted the first look at holiday feature “Noelle,” which is set to premiere exclusively on Disney Plus this fall. “It isn’t Christmas without Santa’s Sister,” Walt Disney Studios said of the film on Twitter. Starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, the Christmas flick tells the story [...]

  • A Hidden Life Movie Austria

    Film News Roundup: Austin Festival Selects Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life'

    In today’s film news roundup, the Austin Film Festival selects a Terrence Malick title, “A Day Without a Mexican” gets a sequel and DCR Finance signs a first-look deal. FESTIVAL SCREENING The Austin Film Festival will screen Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life,” which won the Francois Chalais and Ecumenical Jury awards at the Cannes Film [...]

  • Blake Lively

    Blake Lively's 'Rhythm Section' Moved Back to 2020

    Paramount Pictures has moved the release date of Blake Lively’s “The Rhythm Section” back two months from Nov. 22 to Jan. 31, 2020, the weekend of Super Bowl LIV. The spy tale, adapted from Mark Burnell’s novels surrounding character Stephanie Patrick, is produced by James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson through their [...]

  • The Mandalorian

    'The Mandalorian': Watch the First Trailer for 'Star Wars' Series

    The gunslinging lone warrior — the Mandalorian, as they call him — calls the far reaches of the “Star Wars” galaxy home. Disney dropped the first trailer for the spinoff series during its biennial D23 convention on Friday, finally giving fans a closer look at the franchise’s newest character. “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau, who [...]

  • Lady and the Tramp trailer

    'Lady and the Tramp': Disney's Live-Action Remake Gets First Trailer (Watch)

    Ready your dog-friendly bowl of spaghetti, Disney has debuted the first trailer for its live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp,” starring Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux. The teaser was released during Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim at the Disney + presentation. In addition to Thompson and Theroux, who play the Lady and Tramp, respectively, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content