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American Film Market: Hudson Boards Fun Academy’s ‘Sgt. Stubby – An American Hero’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Fun Academy plans wide U.S. release for next April

U.S.-based sales agent Paul Hudson is handling world sales on CGI feature “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” inspired by the true story of an WWI American soldier’s bonding with a stray dog that became a war hero.

Budgeted at $25 million, animated by Technicolor’s Mikros Animation in Montreal and the official movie of the 2018 WWI Centennial Commission, “Sgt. Stubby” marks the maiden feature from Georgia-based Fun Academy Motion Pictures.

Fun Academy will release “Sgt. Stubby” in April on 3,000 screens, said Fun Academy CEO Richard Lanni, also the film’s writer-director.

Bibo Bergeron (“Shark Tale”) serves as head of story, while Patrick Doyle (“Brave”) is the film’s composer.

Hudson, who also runs L.A distribution-sales house Outsider Pictures, is introducing “Sgt. Stubby” to buyers at this week’s American Film Market. He is in negotiations to sell rights for Poland, Hungary, Latin America, China and the Middle East and has closed South Korea.

“Sgt. Stubby” turns on a young army private, Robert Conroy (Logan Lerman), who is adopted by a stray, stump-tailed terrier. When Robert and his fellow Doughboys ship off to war, Stubby stows away to France with them. In the trenches, Stubby warns of incoming gas attacks, even helps capture a German spy. Stubby has a statue in the Smithsonian Museum. Helena Bonham Carter narrates the story.

“‘Sgt. Stubby’ is a great example of how we can bring the latest animation technologies to tell wonderful stories as we work with creative partners to push the boundaries of entertainment,” said Tim Sarnoff, Technicolor deputy CEO and president of production.

“I really like how Richard is trying to bring real stories to the screen,” said Hudson. “Like most, I wasn’t aware of Stubby’s story. When I read the script I was hooked immediately. After I visited Technicolor in Montreal and saw the quality of the craftsmanship, I knew it was something I wanted to get behind.”

There’s a “market gap for content with substance, for everyone to learn about history and literature,” Lanni said.

Test groups suggest “very clear audience segmentation: A massive dog lover audience, families and military history lovers,” he added. Fun Academy is engaging with school districts and America’s dog shelters and is in discussions with all major exhibition chains.

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