Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all rights in North America, Latin America, Scandinavia, the Middle East, Israel, India and Italy, and aboard airlines and ships worldwide, to the animated film The Magnificent Life of Marcel Pagnol, from writer-director Sylvain Chomet. The deal for Chomet’s English-language feature follows SPC’s distribution of his past films The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist.
The latest film from the four-time Academy Award nominee and BAFTA winner is set in 1955 follows 60-year-old Marcel Pagnol—one of the most prolific artists of the 20th century. An author with 150 million books sold worldwide and translated into more than 50 languages, Pagnol was also a well-known and acclaimed playwright and filmmaker prior to his passing in 1974.
When the editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine commissions a weekly column about the acclaimed playwright and filmmaker’s childhood, he sees this as a great opportunity to go back to his artistic roots: writing. Realizing his memory is failing him and deeply affected by the disappointing results of his last two plays, Pagnol starts doubting his ability to pursue his work. That is until Little Marcel—the young boy he used to be—appears to him as if by magic. Together, they will explore Marcel Pagnol’s incredible life and bring back to life his most cherished encounters and memories. Pic will take the viewer on an adventure through France, from Paris to Pagnol’s hometown of Provence, during half a century of epic history that has built our modern world.
The Magnificent Life is currently in production. It’s expected to be completed in 2024. ON Classics founder and head Aton Soumache is producing alongside Ashargin Poiré and Valérie Puech for What the Prod, with Lilian Eche’s Bidibul Productions and Adrian Politowski’s Align co-producing, in collaboration with Nicolas Pagnol from Pagnol’s Estate.
“THE MAGNIFICENT LIFE OF MARCEL PAGNOL is a film about the extraordinary history of cinema and the beginning of talking movies. Pagnol is the link between film, literature and theatre,” said Chomet. “I am proud to be able to tell this extraordinary adventure, of which we are all heirs, and which Sony Pictures Classics as my partner will travel all over the world.”
“It truly is an honor to launch this great international movie with Sony Pictures Classics, who recognized the universality of this extraordinary fresco and all the international potential it represents by retracing the solar and intense life of Marcel Pagnol, and through him, the timeless history of cinema,” said Soumache. “The movie marks the return of Sylvain Chomet to animation whose work is recognized all over the world for being both singular and universal at the same time.”
“THE MAGNIFICENT LIFE OF MARCEL PAGNOL completes the animated feature film trilogy started with THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE and THE ILLUSIONIST (both enormous successes and evergreen titles for Sony Pictures Classics),” added the company in its statement. “Sylvain Chomet is one of the great masters of animation in the world. It is a pleasure and privilege to be back in business with Sylvain and to expand Sylvain’s audience wider than ever.”
Michael Barker and Tom Bernard serve as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Classics—an autonomous division of Sony Pictures Entertainment they founded with Marcie Bloom in January 1992—which distributes, produces, and acquires independent films from around the world. The deal for The Magnificent Life of Marcel Pagnol was negotiated by Soumache on behalf of ON Classics with Sony Pictures Classics.