Electronic Arts, Starz race to 'Space' movie

Ani prequel based on video game

Electronic Arts and Starz Media have announced a deal to produce an animated prequel movie to the game publisher's upcoming sci-fi horror video game "Dead Space."

The film, being developed by Starz subsidiary Film Roman, will pick up where the comic book series on which it is based ends and lead to the beginning of the game.

With the game set for a Halloween launch, Film Roman president and COO Scott Greenberg said the company is looking to release the animated film between mid-September and late October, initially as a TV special in multiple markets, followed by a home video release through Starz's home entertainment company, Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Starz will launch international sales of the animated feature at next month's MIPTV market in Cannes. "We're really looking for this to be an event," Greenberg said. "We feel we'll attract the hardcore gamer, but we'll also get sci-fi and animation fans as well."

Greenberg said there will be two versions of the film — a softer one for TV and a harder one with more blood and coarser language for the DVD. Starz also is eyeing Web-based and wireless distribution.

Film Roman has been working for several years with Electronic Arts on projects tied to EA games. "We felt this one was the best one to launch with," noted Greenberg, whose animation company is behind "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill" and the preschool hit "Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!"

Film Roman is producing "Space" in alliance with Digital Tetra in Korea. The Gotham Group of Los Angeles helped put the production arrangement together.