Ron Howard and Imagine Entertainment to Tackle First Animated Film Project

Variety reports that Ron Howard, with a (relatively) clear slate after finishing his Pavarotti biodoc is looking into creating some fairly unique animated projects next.

Four such projects have been revealed, the first being an adaptation of The Shrinking of Treehorn, a children’s book by Florence Parry Heide with illustrations from Edward Gorey, originally published in 1971 for Paramount Pictures.  Said to be animated in the memorable style of Gorey, Rob Lieber (Peter Rabbit, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day) is penning the script.

The Shrinking of Treehorn and the future projects will be made in collaboration with Imagine Entertainment and the Australian animation house Animal Logic (The LEGO Movie franchise, Happy Feet)

Zareh Nalbandian, Animal Logic’s entertainment CEO, had this to say about the deal:

“I’ve long had this passionate point of view that Ron Howard should make a tentpole animated movie. That’s how this started … It was serendipitous that Imagine was sort of evolving and growing, and Animal Logic was more and more committed to the development and production of our own intellectual property. We have a shared vision of what that space can be.”

Next up on the Imagine drawing board will be:

The Rainbow Serpent – a story set deep in the traditional mythos of Australian Aborigine lore, this will presumably be an adaptation of a well known creation myth and written by Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra).

Zero, a buddy comedy from director Carlos Stevens and writers Jonathon Stewart and Eyal Podell (The Angry Birds Movie 2, Cars 3), to be distributed by Warner Bros.  This is said to be an exploration of the ties between family and technology and will have a similar heartbeat to Pixar’s Inside Out.

Muttnik, is a “live-action hybrid about a dog launched into space by the Russians, who crosses the space-time continuum and returns home to his family an evolved creature”. No distributors have been yet announced.

Needless to say, Animal Logic are here to stay in the well-regarded animator’s ranks with their LEGO movies regularly drawing substantial box office returns; heading into the world of Heide and Gorey seems like an unusual turn and more in line with Sony’s left-field animation pitches than a direct attack on the Pixar/Dreamworks battlefield. I’d imagine that somewhere out there, Tim Burton is smashing a mirror with a glass of brandy.

Another interesting call is The Rainbow Serpent, which has been adapted into a fairly common children’s book in Australia, read by many bored primary schoolers over the last fifty years and competing with Mem Fox’s Possum Magic for the “damn, I think I remember that” moment that is often confused with early onset senility.

What do you guys think? Is Ron, Brian Grazer and Imagine Entertainment onto something with this projected linup of animated releases?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!