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Michel Hazanavicius-Penned ‘Little Jules Verne’ Sails With ON Animation

Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam’s ON Animation, the outfit behind Mark Osborne’s BAFTA-winning “The Little Prince” and the upcoming “Playmobil” movie, has ramped up its slate with two more high-profile projects including “The Badalisc” and “Little Jules Verne.”

“Little Jules Verne” is a CGI 3D-reimagining of the early life and inspirations of the 19th century French author known for his ground-breaking science-fiction novels such as “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.”

Michel Hazanavicius, the Oscar-winning director of “The Artist,” has come on board to adapt the script and dialogue for the movie. French character designer and comic book author Fabien Mense, who previously worked on “Hotel Transylvania,” has been tapped to handle the visual development for “Little Jules Verne.”

“The Badalisc” will be directed by Lino DiSalvo, the head of animation on “Raiponce” and “Frozen,” who is making his directorial debut with “Playmobil.” Peter Ackerman, whose credits include “Ice Age” and the upcoming “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” is writing the script.

Budgeted at $36 million, “Little Jules Verne” was developed by Benoît Pierre at Enormous Pictures. “Aton Soumache’s unique expertise in producing high-profile international films, combined with the many talents ON Animation can bring to ‘Verne’ will allow the movie to reach a wider audience,” said Pierre.

Soumache said: “Benoît [Pierre] and his team at Enormous Pictures have come up with a really smart and original approach for ‘Little Jules Verne’ which gives to one of the most iconic and significant figures in the history of literature a new opportunity to entertain.  By joining our forces together with Benoît we will show the world that the father of science-fiction continues to make children and parents around the world dream.”

The French production banner, which recently consolidated with its new majority shareholder Mediawan, has expanded its team of creatives and slate of high-profile projects.

Besides Lino DiSalvo, Alexis Vonarb, Emmanuel Jacomet and Tito Ortiz, the company has recently enlisted Hyrum Osmond, a Disney veteran who was head of animation on “Moana,” to join its talent roster. “Our ambition is to build long-term, nurturing relationships with talented creatives and produce projects we develop in-house,” said Soumache, citing Osmond, who is developing “Little Nemo in Slumberland.”

“The Badalisc,” based an an original idea by DiSalvo and inspired by Italian folklore, tells the story of a young woman on a mission to find the truth behind the disappearance of her father. Her journey sees her encountering mythical characters and unraveling an ancient mystery.

“I have always loved movies about a child who meets his monster, but those movies are always about boys,” said DiSalvo. “I come from a rich Italian heritage and wanted the opportunity to honor the strong women in my family. The hero in my story is a strong-willed female protagonist who is encountering a magical monster, faces her darkest fear and realizes her greatest dreams.”

ON Animation Studios will produce “The Badalisc” with a budget of approximately $71 million through their Paris-based shingle and Montreal production house. DiSalvo and Tito Ortiz, the former vice president of Illumination Entertainment, will also serve as producers.

Considered one of Europe’s fastest-growing animation production companies, On Animation has offices in Los Angeles, Montreal and Paris. The banner boasts an in-house technology and streamlined pipeline allowing it to produce high-quality independent animated films with fairly reasonable budgets by U.S. standards.

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