Aton Soumache’s On Entertainment (“Playmobil”) is allying with Joann Sfar, the revered French comicbook artist and filmmaker, on an ambitious live action mini-series inspired by French aviator and author Antoine de Saint Exupery’s 1943 philosophical and self-reflective parable “The Little Prince.”
The project, which is still at an early development stage, is being conceived as five mini-movies filled with fantasy and adventures which will mix live action and CGI in the veins of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Jungle Book,” Soumache told Variety.
On Entertainment, which is now part of Mediawan, bought a majority stake in Sfar’s company Nice Pictures, and will soon unveil its rebranding along with a slate of high-profile series and film projects.
Sfar said “The Little Prince” has played a meaningful role in his career. His 2008 adaptation of “The Little Prince” became a New York Times bestseller and allowed him to break through internationally.
All the characters I have created, whether in ‘Le chat du Rabin’ or in ‘Little Vampire,’ are close to the ‘The Little Prince;’ for one thing they all fly,” said Sfar, adding that he’s “always been fascinated by aviators, the legends around those heroes of the sky.”
He said the idea with the mini-series was to “expand on the world of ‘The Little Prince,’ using it as a pathway to enter a wildly magical universe where imaginary creatures live and air battles unfold.” The plot will also be expanded to depict high stakes in the spirit of King Arthur’s legend and J. R. R. Tolkien’s works.
Sfar said the ambition with the mini-series was to bring his aquarelle drawings to real life thanks to a sophisticated hybrid technique weaving live action and CGI which has been used in movies like “The Jungle Book.”
“Today we have the economic and technological resources in Europe to invent legends and imaginary worlds that puts us on a equal footing with Americans,” said Sfar.
Soumache said Sfar was a “visionary artist” and a “genius.” “Sfar is already a world-renown comics creator and artist and he has the talent to become a cult filmmaker like Tim Burton and Guillermo Del Toro given the proper means to fulfil his dreams,” said Soumache, who is also working with Sfar on his movie “Little Vampire.” Studiocanal will release in France and is handling international sales.
On Entertainment previously adapted “The Little Prince” into an animated movie directed by Mark Osborne. The film world premiered out of competition at Cannes in 2015 and went on to travel worldwide and won a Cesar Award (France’s equivalent to the Oscar).