We aren’t even halfway through the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, and already an American indie film company has walked away with a preemptive deal for the distribution rights to a high-profile animated film project from overseas.
Budgeted at $30 million (considered ambitious for the studios involved), Ballerina is a period musical adventure set in 1880’s Paris, revolving around an 11-year-old orphan girl named Felicie Miliner, who dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer at the Paris Opera. When she finally gets into ballet school (via her best friend’s help and the of borrowing someone else’s identity), she learns through her tough and mysterious mentor that it takes more than talent and hard work to outshine her fellow students.
Naturally, The Weinstein Company has wasted no time in attaching a number of big names to the project. Elle Fanning (Super 8, The Boxtrolls, Maleficent) will voice the lead character. Pop star Carly Rae Jepsen is also on board as the voice of Odette, Felicie’s teacher. Child actress and dancer Maddie Ziegler (of Dance Moms fame) will also voice a lead character in the film, as will Dane Dehann (Chronicle and The Amazing Spider-man 2).
Ballerina will mark the first feature film effort from the new animation company, L’atelier Animation. The film is directed by Eric Summer and Eric Warin from a screenplay by Carole Noble and Laurent Zeitoun. Klaus Badelt (Pirates of the Carribean) will compose the score, with songs written by UK songwriter Chris Braide, who’s long list of collaborators include SIA, Selena Gomez, Pharrel Williams, and Beyonce.
Furthermore, the choreography for the film is being overseen by Black Swan‘s Benjamin Milliepied, who utilized key-frame animation for some of the performances. Speaking of which, the film’s animation work is being done in Montreal, Canada.
(Image courtesy of this tumblr account)
While this has all the earmarks of a surefire deal (and the big-name pedigree to prove it), The Weinstein Company hasn’t had a great history with animated film releases, especially concerning overseas offerings.
In 2014, they licensed the US rights to Foosball, which was renamed Underdogs. It too had big names attached to the English-language cast. Unfortunately, the film was plagued by a number of continuous delays. All seemed well when it finally settled on an August 14, 2015 release date until suddenly, for mysterious reasons, it was pulled from the release schedule entirely. Nobody really knows what happened behind the scenes, and the film has since resurfaced as a DVD release…that’s only available as an import from the UK.
Regardless of whatever grim fate had befallen the US release of Underdogs, it certainly didn’t reflect well on The Weinstein Company, a studio who’s history is already littered with animated stinkers (Hoodwinked Too: Hood Vs. Evil, Escape from Planet Earth).
Having said that, there is a faint chance that The Weinstein Company could finally score a hit with Ballerina, which is also releasing in the US under a different title. It’s certainly a wait-and-see situation.
Overseas, Ballerina is set for release later this year.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to Ballerina?
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated that some performances utilized motion capture animation. This has been corrected to show that key-frame animation was used instead.
Edited by: Morgan Stradling