Heidi and the Magic Pool – a family feature based on the durable ‘Heidi’ children’s franchise – has cleared territory sales across most of the world, and will start production in April with Bill Nighy, Anna Friel and Greg Wise in the cast, Carnaby International’s Tania Sarra announced at AFM today. The company said it also is in discussions with Jim Broadbent (IrisGangs of New York) for a role.

The film follows 12-year-old Heidi when she’s taken from her grandfather to live in the city as a companion to Clara, who is being poisoned by a governess with designs on Clara’s father. Clara and Heidi flee to a mysterious grotto called the Magic Pool.

Sarra said the territories sold to one big distributor include the UK, Australia and New Zealand, much of Europe, India, Southeast Asia and all of Latin America. Other deals will cover the Middle East (Gulf Film); Indonesia (PT Prima Cinema), Spain (Flins y Piniculas) and the countries that formerly comprised Yugoslavia (Discovery).

Sarra called the buyer response “robust” and a measure of the Heidi franchise’s global appeal. John Henderson (The Borrowerswill direct from a script written by Paul Watson (Puss in Boots). Simon Wright (Lucky Jim) is producer. The film is a UK-Hungarian co-production and will be filmed in both countries.