EXCLUSIVE: The Little Prince director Mark Osborne is getting a very special honor from France in recognition of his work in making the first-ever animated feature adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic. He will be conferred the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in March at a ceremony led by the cultural counselor of the French Embassy in New York, Bénédicte de Montlaur.
The Order of Arts and Letters was established in 1957 to recognize eminent artists and writers, as well as people who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.
Osborne directed and executive produced Little Prince which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. It then went on to become France’s top animated export in two decades and has grossed more than $100 million globally.
Paramount initially had U.S. rights, but later opted out with Netflix swooping in. It’s won myriad prizes – including the César for Best Animated Feature — and is one of 27 animated features submitted to the Oscars this year.
The U.S. voice cast includes Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Mackenzie Foy, James Franco, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Albert Brooks and Riley Osborne.
The long road to the film began eight years ago when French producers Aton Soumache, Dimitri Rassam and Alexis Vonard got the go-ahead from Olivier d’Agay, president of the Saint-Exupéry Estate, to develop a theatrical feature based on the 1942 novella. At the Unifrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema last year, they were given the first annual French Cinema Award.
Osborne’s other credits include Oscar nominee Kung Fu Panda and Oscar-nominated short More.
Previous American recipients of the Order include Paul Auster, Marilyn Horne, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Meier, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Uma Thurman.