'Totally Spies!' heading for the big screen

France's Marathon Media and Studio 37 team up

CANNES -- James Bond will get a run for his money when French production powerhouse Marathon Media and Studio 37, the film arm of Gallic telecom Orange, bring Beverly Hills teenagers-turned-secret agents "Totally Spies!" to the big screen.

The 8 million euro ($12 million) production based on the hit series is being targeted for a summer 2009 release date in Gaul, through Mars Distribution. The mix of traditional animation and 3D, tentatively titled "Totally Spies! The Movie," already has been pre-sold to Benelux (films de l'Elysee), Italy (Mikado) and Eastern Europe (SPI).

Daniel Marquet's Groupe Un is handling international sales at the Cannes film market where producers Marathon and Studio 37 hope to finalize their budget.

Based on the TV series about three teenage girls from Beverly Hills who accidentally become international secret agents, the film will explain what the series has yet to address, namely how the heroines became secret agents to begin with.

"It's 'Clueless' meets 'James Bond,' " Marathon Media CEO and general manager David Michel said. "We didn't want to just make a long episode of the series. Our job is to make a good film for fans and also show parents they won't be bored."

The TV series "Totally Spies!" is on air in more than 166 territories and is the top-rated TV toon in France on TF1. With five seasons and more than 130 episodes under its belt, "Spies!" ranks among the top five highest-rated children's programs in the world.

The film marks Marathon Media's first feature film effort and Studio 37's second animated production after "Les Lascars," which will hit Gallic screens in May of 2009.

Marathon Media, co-run by Vincent Chalvon Demersay, has two other original animated features in development, but is waiting to see how "Spies" performs before investing heavily in projects.