'Vicky' comes to life for Herbig


COLOGNE, Germany -- German director Michael "Bully" Herbig will adapt the hit German/Japanese anime "Vicky the Viking" as his next project.

Herbig describes "Vicky," the story of a clever Viking boy who designs clever plans to help his tribal chief father out of scrapes, as "a little Indiana Jones with a bit of McGyver mixed in."

The director is currently casting the live-action feature, which his herbX shingle with co-produce with long-time collaborators Constantin Film and Rat Pack. Casting is currently underway for a planned summer shoot. Release is scheduled for 2009.

The project matches up Germany's most successful director -- Herbig's first four films have sold around 25 million tickets in his home territory alone -- with one of the country's most enduring children's titles.

Since its launch in 1974, "Vicky" has rarely been off the air in Germany. It has also become a cult hit across much of Western Europe and in Japan.

"Vicky" will be Herbig's first film that is not based on characters developed on his TV sketch comedy show.

That creative well has apparently run dry. While Herbig's last film -- the "Shrek"-style animated feature "Lissi and the Wild Emperor" -- was a success by local standards, selling north of 2 million tickets, that was a fraction of the 9-10 million admissions raked in by Herbig's previous two pictures.