Indian shingles wield Par's 'Dragonlance'

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NEW DELHI -- South India-based Toonz Animation India, Commotion Pictures and Epic Level Entertainment will co-produce the animated feature "Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight" for Paramount Home Entertainment. The feature -- based on Hasbro's "Dungeons and Dragons" property -- is slated for an April release.

"This feature is a combination of 2D and 3D animation for which we started production about two months ago," Toonz Animation India managing director P. Jayakumar said in an interview.

Without giving a production budget, Jayakumar added that Toonz will handle Indian theatrical and home video distribution while Paramount will market the film internationally.

"Dragonlance" producers include Commotion Pictures' Steve Stabler, former Paramount Pictures marketing president Arthur Cohen and Jayakumar. The film is directed by Will Meugniot ("Stargate: Infinity" and "The Real Ghostbusters").

"Dragonlance" will feature the voice talents of Keifer Sutherland, Lucy Lawless ("Xena: Warrior Princess"), Michael Rosenbaum ("Smallville") and Michelle Trachtenberg ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), among others.

In a statement, Paramount Home Entertainment senior vp worldwide acquisitions and DVD premieres Ellen Pittleman said: "We're very excited to bring the wildly popular world of 'Dungeons and Dragons' to the screen. We are confident that Commotion Pictures and Toonz will do the property justice to the delight of fans around the world."

The film is based on "Dragons of Autumn Twilight," the first novel in the bestselling "Dragonlance" fantasy franchise, published by Wizards of the Coast.

One of India's leading animation studios, Toonz -- based in Trivandrum in the south Indian state of Kerala -- is headquartered at an 18,000 square foot facility that employs 550 artists.

Among its other projects, Jayakumar said Toonz is co-producing a 40-episode TV series with the BBC titled "Freefonix" and "Wolverine," a 26 episode series with Marvel based on the "X Men" character. In addition, Toonz will co-produce the feature film "Hanuman 2" with Mumbai-based Percept Picture Co., the sequel to India's first breakthrough animated feature, based on the monkey god Hanuman.
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