EXCLUSIVE: The Nut Job writer-director Peter Lepeniotis is joining US-Canada-Australia co-production Nullaboo Hullabaloo.
Lepeniotis will write and direct the animated film, which is being produced by Jay Ahn of Astro-Nomical Ent alongside Tristan Barr and David Gim of Continuance Pictures.
Fleur Ferris’s children’s book, which was released in 2019, follows Janomi, a fairy that is forbidden to talk to humans. When her grandfather, the king of the fairy colony, is captured by silver spiders, she desperately needs help. She places her trust in ten-year-old country kid Gemma and tells her she must keep the fairies’ existence a secret. But when Gemma’s school rival, Nina, steals the secretly recorded footage of Janomi and uploads it onto YouTube, a media frenzy explodes in sleepy Nullaboo.
Lepeniotis’s 2014 feature The Nut Job, featuring the voices of Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Brendan Fraser and Katherine Heigl, scored more than $120M at the box office. He went on to write the sequel to that film and direct 2017 Netflix acquisition Gnome Alone. The Canadian vet was an animator on blockbuster films including Casper, Toy Story 2 and Dinosaur.
The filmmaker said: “When I was presented with Fleur’s book, I was instantly inspired by the portrayal of a modern girl discovering the secrets of a magical world hidden from humans. Nullaboo will be a fun, magical look at myth through the eye of our ironic times. I am really excited about the team, and the unique touch we’re going to bring to this charming story.”
Visual development will be led by Jang Lee, a visual development artist on Big Hero 6 and matte painter on Frozen and Wreck-It-Ralph.
Lee added: “This is such a delightful, fast-paced story about the magic of fairies. But more importantly, it’s a story about community, working together to do the right thing and preserve living creatures and the environment. It’s also about friendship and rising above rivalries when others need help.”
Astro-Nomical Entertainment, co-founded by Chris Henderson and Jay Ahn, has a strategic partnership with Korean firm MBL Media, which optioned the book for film adaption.
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