The companies currently share development costs with a view to Studiocanal co-producing and taking international sales and distribution rights to France, U.K., Germany and Australia.
Graphic artist Richard Zielenkiewicz, better known as Monsieur Z, created French Riviera, and is in line to direct. Toy Story co-writers Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen have completed a first draft of the screenplay.
Set on the French Riviera in the 1950s, with animals as characters, the animated feature follows a cat who's a burglar who steals a stash of diamonds. Les Armateurs and Studiocanal aim to combine CGI characters, 2D backgrounds and a look reminiscent of 1950s airline posters.
Les Armateurs and Studiocanal co-produced Michel Ocelot's third Kirikou animated feature, Kirikou and the Men and the Women as well as the 2D Ernest and Celestine.
Released in France by Studiocanal last year, both films have done well. Kirikou has earned $9.1 million, while Ernest and Celestine has grossed $6.9 million and sold to more than 25 countries, including to GKIDS in the U.S.
“We have great animation talents in France, Belgium, Spain, the U.K. There's an appetite among audiences for quality animation,” commented Studiocanal CEO Olivier Courson. “It's just a matter of finding the right projects with strong subjects and European brands and being reasonable with budgets.”
Studiocanal’s upcoming animated slate also includes Arte Cinema’s steam-punk adventure thriller Le monde truque (A Fake World), which will be directed by Jacques Tardi and Belgian director Ben Stassen’s The House of Magic.