ON Animation Studios unveiled new details and some footage of Lino Di Salvo’s anticipated “Playmobil: The Movie” during a work-in-progress session at Annecy Animation International Film Festival.
Di Salvo, a Disney veteran who served as head of animation on “Frozen” and was animation supervisor on “Tangled” and “Bolt,” presented “Playmobil” via a recorded video and said the film will be character-driven, trigger emotions and imagination, while the designs will “embrace the simplicity and uniqueness of ‘Playmobil.'”
Unveiled during the session, the plot revolves around twenty-year old Marla who is forced to abandon her carefully structured life to embark on an epic journey to find her young brother Charlie who has disappeared into the vast and wondrous animated world of Playmobil. Blaise Hemingway, Greg Erb and Jason Oremland wrote the script. A portion of the film is in live-action.
“The film is an emotional, adventure-filled journey in the veins of ‘Finding Nemo,'” said Julien Bocabeille, the head of animation, who attended the Annecy work-in-progress session with the producer Aton Soumache.
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A clip of the movie was shown at the presentation and sparked an enthusiastic reaction from attendees — some of whom applauded the designs, Disney/Pixar quality and the voices.
Soumache, who is producing “Playmobil: The Movie” with Dimitri Rassam at ON Animation Studios, along with Alexis Vonarb and Moritz Borman, told Variety that the movie, which is represented by Lionsgate, has now been sold worldwide (save Japan) to major distributors, including Studiocanal in the U.K. and Tele München Group in Germany. As previously announced, Open Road Films will handle the U.S. release while Pathe will roll out the film in France.
The well-seasoned animation producer also revealed that “Playmobil” will boast, under Di Salvo’s impulse, a strong musical component and several original songs as did “Frozen” which scored more than $1.2 billion around the world. The film will also be headlined by a high-profile English-speaking voice cast as did “The Little Prince,” ON Animation Studios’s previous feature which grossed $97.5 million at the box office worldwide.
During the presentation, Soumache also addressed the positioning of “Playmobil” compared with “Lego: The Movie.” “The movie ‘Lego’ relied a lot on comedy and wasn’t so much driven by characters, while our film will follow more the Disney tradition of storytelling and is meant to appeal to girls as much as boys,” explained Soumache, who quipped “‘Lego’ grossed almost $500 million worldwide, if we make half of that will be very happy!”
Aside from the movie, ON Animation Studios has also developed a topnotch virtual reality experiment which allows users to jump into scenes from the film and interact with characters and decors. A segment of the VR experiment is on display at Annecy’s market, Mifa.