By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 31, 2011 at 4:53AM
Marking Michelle Raimo-Kouyate’s first deal since becoming president of production for Sony Pictures Animation, the division has acquired motion picture rights to Janet Foxley's fairy tale novel Muncle Trogg, to be developed as an animated feature. “Strong characters, relatable themes, a unique world and tons of inherent comedy: as soon as I read Muncke Trogg, I knew this would speak to the kinds of animated movies I want to make at Sony Pictures Animation,” said Raimo-Kouyate.
The 2010 Times of London/Chicken House Children's Fiction prize-winner will be executive produced by Disney veteran Jane Startz (Ella Enchanted, Tuck Everlasting, Indian In the Cupboard), with Kane Lee, Jane Startz Productions Inc.’s vp of development, as co-producer. Barry Cunningham OBE, Chicken House Publisher and Head of Chicken House Entertainment, found this UK and Australia bestseller as well as discovering J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel when he was at Bloomsbury. The Chicken House /Scholastic imprint will bring the novel about a community who live in a volcano to North America in Spring 2012.
Sony Pictures Animation's most recent hit was the 3-D comedy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which followed the Oscar-nominated Surf's Up. In the pipeline are Hotel Transylvania and Columbia Pictures' live-action/animation hybrid The Smurfs as well as Aardman Animation's Arthur Christmas, in CG and stop-frame animation.
In other animation news, indie Vanguard Animation, Aurelius Films and Maloof Entertainment have started a $20-million print and advertising private equity fund for 3-D animated films. The Tournament Field Fund will finance 3-D films' domestic P&A. Vanguard is headed by John Williams, who produced Dreamworks’ Shrek, Disney's Valiant and Fox's Space Chimps. He is currently an executive producer of Walter Salles' On the Road based on the Jack Kerouac classic, and is producing Sara Sugarman's rock and roll comedy Vinyl. "The P&A fund participation of Maloof Entertainment is a fantastic way to improve the timing and economics of our domestic and foreign distribution deals for our animated films," said Williams. "SC Films International will be handling international sales for the fund, headed by Simon Crowe based in London.”
Maloof Entertainment is working with Vanguard and Aurelius to create this P&A Fund, explained Adrienne Maloof, co-owner of Maloof Entertainment. Aurelius assembled a diversified team--including advisers Cassian Elwes, Lisa Tayback and licensing attorney Geneva Wasserman--to help manage the Tournament Field Fund.