Berlin 2013: Henry Selick and Josh Penn Greenlight 'The Shadow King'

Selick Penn - H 2013
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K5 International will begin pre-selling the animation project, which began life at Disney, to buyers at the European Film Market.

BERLIN -- Several months after Disney bailed on animated feature The Shadow King, writer/director Henry Selick is going ahead with the project. Selick, whose credits include the Oscar-nominated Coraline and James and the Giant Peach, is well into pre-production on The Shadow King, which Josh Penn (Beasts of the Southern Wild) will produce.

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German/U.K. sales and production group K5 International is handling world sales on the project and will pitch it to buyers starting at the European Film Market in Berlin this week.

The story of The Shadow King follows Hap, a nine-year-old orphan in New York with fantastically long fingers, which he tries to hide from the rest of the world. When a living shadow girl shows him how he can use his hands to make his hand-shadows come to life, Hap's fingers become fantastic weapons in a shadow-war against a monster bent on killing Hap's brother Richard and destroying New York itself.

Selick wrote and will direct The Shadow King and has amassed an impressive behind-the-camera team for the project, including Frankenweenie cinematographer Peter Sorg; Eric Leighton, animation director on The Legend of the Guardians; production designer Lou Romano (The Incredibles); Immortals editor Wyatt Jones; and Coraline composer Bruno Coulais.

Disney reportedly sunk $50 million into The Shadow King before exiting the project last September, apparently because the subject matter was too dark for the Mouse House.

Selick and K5 are hoping independent distributors will be more open to the tale. K5 will bring Selick to the EFM to conduct special closed-door presentations to selected buyers with exclusive clips from the film.