Picturehouse hunts down 'Fox' rights

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NEW YORK -- "The Fox & the Child," Luc Jacquet's follow-up to his monster hit documentary "March of the Penguins," has been acquired for U.S. distribution by Picturehouse.

Jacquet's fable combines narrative storytelling with docu footage to tell the tale of a young girl who follows a fox into the woods outside her home. Based on Jacquet's experiences as a child, the English-language film will use an adult female narrator to relate the events as her childhood story.

Picturehouse president Bob Berney said that because there is very little onscreen dialogue, he may hire a well-known actress to provide the voiceover and shoot her in new scenes for the feature.

The $13 million-plus feature began principal photography last March in France, Italy and Romania after some initial nature shoots, and the filmmakers hope to complete it in time for this May's Festival de Cannes. The Bonne Pioche film is produced by Yves Darondeau, Christophe Lioud and Emmanuel Priou, the team behind "Penguins."

Jacquet used a combination of real foxes and a trained fox to work with the young star, Bertille Noel-Bruneau.

Bonne Pioche is targeting a Christmas release in several overseas territories, but Berney said the film is more likely to have a wide domestic release in spring 2008.

"It has the feel of a classic children's book," said Berney, who expects the audience to "skew very, very young" but hopes it will appeal to parents as "Penguins" did.

Picturehouse has been tracking the film for two years and based the acquisition on 40 minutes of finished footage. "I've always been interested in unusual kids' films and nature documentaries and with films like 'Penguins' and 'Winged Migration,' it's great now that they're more commercially viable," said Picturehouse senior vp acquisitions Sara Rose.

The deal was negotiated by Picturehouse's Rose and New Line executive vp business affairs and co-productions Carolyn Blackwood with Carole Baraton of Wild Bunch.
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