EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius has joined family animation project Little Jules Verne, adapting the script and dialogue for the movie that will be directed by Régis Vidal and Didier Ah-Koon. Originated by Benoît Pierre and his Enormous Pictures, the 3D CGI film is a reimagining of the young Verne’s life and inspirations in 19th century Europe.
Verne, the prolific French novelist, poet and playwright, was the author of such adventure novels as Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days.
Pierre explains the original script for Little Jules Verne was penned by three writers: Anne and Gérard Guèro, who authored Marvel’s Tales of the Dragon Guard and go by the pseudonym Ange; and Pierre-Gilles Stehr, whose animated TV credits include Atomic Puppet and Oggy and the Cockroaches. Hazanavicius adapted the script and worked on dialogue, coming aboard the project as a co-author later in the game.
The Artist Oscar winner tells me he was attracted by “the exercise of confronting myself with a more childlike universe, to really respond to a request and to put myself in service of someone else’s project. … I really enjoy writing, and this was a pleasant experience: the relative short length of the mission, the idea that I could help a film to be born, and the tenacity and engagement of Benoît Pierre, who convinced me to do it.” This is the first project Hazanavicius has worked on which he is not also directing.
Along with the writers, the project has a deep bench of talent. Co-director Vidal was the artistic director on Patrice Leconte’s 2012 animated feature The Suicide Shop, while Ah-Koon has worked as a story/storyboard artist on such films as Despicable Me 2, Minions, The Secret Life of Pets, Ice Age: Collision Course and The Emoji Movie. He also directed the Illumination short Cro Minion.
Little Jules Verne‘s characters have been created by Fabien Mense. Mikros Image (Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Asterix and Obelix: Mansion of the Gods) will make the film that’s co-produced by Caribara and Enormous. This is Enormous’ first feature.
Pierre and his partners are currently in discussions with sales agents on the ambitious international adventure film. A comic book series is also expected to be published in the first half of 2019 and an animated TV series for kids ages 6-10 is being shopped to French networks.