Big names are the draw

Verbinski, King, Logan doing ani

"Pirates of the Caribbean" helmer Gore Verbinski will direct his first animated feature and team with filmmaker Graham King to produce the project.

The action-adventure film, based on an undisclosed idea developed by Verbinski's Blind Wink Prods. and producer John B. Carls, has a projected budget in the $100 million range and a targeted 2010 release. Screenwriter John Logan ("Sweeney Todd") is in talks to pen the film with future sequels in mind.

"Gore had been talking to John about writing it and was looking for a producing partner," King said. "John has worked with me before (on Martin Scorsese's 'The Aviator') and said, 'Why don't you talk to Graham?' "

King is financing the untitled film's development. Warner Bros. (which has a first-look deal with King) or another studio could come on board the project after the script is completed, he said.

King's GK Films and Blind Wink are producing the project, with Verbinski, King and Carls serving as producers. Tim Headington is the executive producer. David Shannon is co-producer and the film's conceptual artist.

Verbinski is now assembling a team of designers for the project, including visual effects specialist Mark "Crash" McCreery and head of story and storyboard artist James Ward Byrkit, both of whom worked with him on the "Pirates" films. The filmmakers will decide whether to build out their own animation unit or go to an established animation house after they see a finished script.