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Panda's Stevenson Joins Vanguard's Alien Rock Band

John Williams, the original producer of Shrek and President and CEO of Vanguard Films, announced today an overall producing/directing deal with Kung Fu Panda co-director John Stevenson.

Press Release from Vanguard Films

(Santa Monica, CA; November 8, 2010) – John Williams, the original producer of Shrek and President and CEO of Vanguard Films, announced today an overall producing/directing deal with Kung Fu Panda co-director John Stevenson.  In addition, Vanguard has formed a strategic alliance with former Lakeshore International President Peter Rogers’ new company, Moviemill, to arrange financing and distribution for Vanguard's impressive projects.  Vanguard comes to AFM with an eclectic production slate featuring CG, live action and CG/live action hybrids.

"I’m thrilled that Vanguard’s exciting new range of projects is attracting such top filmmakers and business partners as John Stevenson and Peter Rogers,” says Williams.

Stevenson’s first directing project for Vanguard will be the live action/CGI hybrid Alien Rock Band with musician Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) attached as a producer.  Plot revolves around a garage band from Earth which journeys across the Universe to qualify for a shot at superstardom in an Intergalactic Battle of the Bands. It won't be easy – the band will have to out-shred four-armed alien guitarists, face-down tentacled, punker octo-drummers, and fight snarling alien monsters – with music as its only weapon.

"I have been attracted to the slate of existing and new ideas that are coming out of Vanguard,” says Stevenson.  “I have had a great time working with John Williams and the gifted creative teams involved in these projects.”

Stevenson, whose credits include such seminal animation projects as Shrek, Madagascar, and James and the Giant Peach, will also direct Vanguard’s CG-animated film Rotten Island, based on the book by Shrek author William Steig about an island where monsters reign free until a beautiful flower changes everything.  Newsday called it, "A gorgeously colored picture book, full of monsters, mayhem and a message about the redeeming power of Nature.”  People magazine raved, “Not since Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are has there been such a glorious nightmare of a book.”

Among the Vanguard titles that Williams and Stevenson will produce are Buzby, the world's first high speed animated romantic comedy starring fruit flies, written by Jason Mayland with Annie Award-winner Phil Robinson (Hubert's Brain) attached to direct; City of Dragons a live-action martial arts movie in the spirit of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with supernatural elements set in modern day Shanghai, written by Rob Moreland (Space Chimps), and Atomic Circus, a live-action fantasy adventure story featuring a fast-talking con-man in a post-apocalyptic world, written by Athena Gam.

During Peter Rogers' seven-year tenure as President of Lakeshore International, the sales and distribution arm of Lakeshore Entertainment, the company produced, financed and distributed over 40 films including the Academy Award™ winner Million Dollar Baby, Runaway Bride, The Exorcism of Emily Rose,

Autumn in New York, Crank, The Gift, Arlington Road and The Mothman Prophecies. Before forming Moviemill, Rogers was most recently President of Omega Entertainment, whose film, Conviction, has Oscar-watchers buzzing about the performances of Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell.

“Vanguard is particularly adept at painting a bull's-eye on entertainment properties that resonate with global audiences,” says Rogers.  "I can't imagine a better pairing than the prowess of the Vanguard production team and the creative and technical firepower of a filmmaker such as John Stevenson.  They are a great match.”

Vanguard Films is a leading independent animation company and the producer of the independently financed films Space Chimps, Valiant and Happily N'ever After, as well as the live action films Seven Years in Tibet and The Tuxedo starring Jackie Chan.  Vanguard’s On the Road, a collaboration with American Zoetrope directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries), has just wrapped principal photography.  Its rock ‘n’ roll comedy film Vinyl, shot on location in Wales, is co-written (with Jim Cooper) and directed by Sara Sugarman (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen).  The film is now in post-production.

The deals were repped by Jon Levin at CAA.

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118027013

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