Jones lands on animated 'Earth'

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Ed Jones, an executive producer on feature animation Oscar winner "Happy Feet," has joined Rainmaker Animation to produce "Escape From Planet Earth." The Weinstein Co. is financing the comedy and will handle worldwide distribution.

Additionally, Steve Nichols has joined Rainmaker as animation director.

The film marks the first theatrical animated feature for Rainmaker. Production began last week at the company's Vancouver facility; voice talent has not yet been cast.

"Earth" is helmed by Tony Leech and written by Leech and Cory Edwards. Producing with Jones are Preston Stutzman of Blue Yonder Films, Jonathan Shestack of Jon Shestack Prods., Brian Inerfeld of Protocol and Gregory R. Little of Rainmaker Animation. Rick Mischel is executive producer, and Jeremy Stein will co-produce. Weinstein Co. co-president of production Michael Cole and vp production and development Eric Robinson are overseeing the project on behalf of the company.

"Earth," an original idea by Leech, is a comedy about an alien prison break from Area 51.

Said Weinstein Co. co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, "We are really excited about the team we've assembled and are absolutely thrilled to be working with Ed and Steve, whose experience and expertise is second to none, and with the fantastic team at Rainmaker."

Jones won a 1989 Oscar for visual effects for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Nichols was the lead animator on the upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
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