'Cuckoo-Clock Heart' will get ani treatment

EuropaCorp., HP partner for film based on Malzieu novel

CANNES -- French film studio EuropaCorp. has partnered with HP to make an animated feature film version of Mathias Malzieu's novel "The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart" for a fall 2011 release.

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EuropaCorp. snagged the film adaptation rights in January 2008 for the book, which has been translated into more than 15 languages. Malzieu will direct the €20 million ($25 million) project alongside Stephane Berla, with EuropaCorp. producer and Luc Besson's wife Virginie Besson-Silla set to produce in association with France's Duran Duboi, support from French TV group France 3 and a pre-buy from Canal Plus.

HP will provide its latest technology including HPZ800 workstations and HP DreamColor displays. The filmmakers will use a 2D storyboard to produce a non-relief 3D picture.

"It's not just 3D for 3D's sake. It's more old-style animation," Malzieu said Added Berla: "We like the idea that the film looks like it could have been made 50 years ago."

The film, which began production in October, is being shot in French with A-list Gallic voices including actor Jean Rochefort, actress Rossy de Palma and singers Arthur H. and Olivia Ruiz. International versions are in the works, but as for U.S. talent, "We're starting to fantasize about that, but nothing has been signed for the moment," Malzieu said.

Malzieu comes from the music world -- the artist and writer is the lead singer of rock group Dionysos, who boast three gold records. Malzieu and Dionysos will provide the soundtrack for "The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart."

"It's a real auteur film. Even we were surprised by how much freedom we had. We really took risks and pushed the boundaries of creation," Berla said of the directorial duo's collaboration with EuropaCorp. The story takes place in late 19th-century Edinburgh and follows a little boy born with a cuckoo-clock instead of a heart who chases after a girl across Europe to Andalusia.

"It's not a film dedicated just to children -- our target audience in 7-77 years old. It's transgenerational," Besson-Silla said, adding, "It's not a commercial product, but there's a real following already for both the book and the album."

After their "Arthur" franchise, EuropaCorp. is expanding into the animated realm with another 3D animated feature "A Monster in Paris," set to hit French theaters at Christmas.