Elton John Brings Gnomeo and Juliet to Starz

Pop star Elton John is teaming up with Starz Animation Toronto to make a 3-D animated feature titled Gnomeo and Juliet.

John appeared along with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty at the Starz offices in Toronto to announce the deal, which was made possible thanks to a $22.975 million in funding under the Government of Ontario’s Next Generation of Jobs Fund.

With animated features such as Miramax Films’ Gnomeo & Juliet and the recent completion of Universal/Focus Features’ 9, Starz Animation Toronto, under the direction of Head of Studio David Steinberg, now employs 220 people, up substantially from when the studio opened in 2007.

Gnomeo & Juliet is a special project for us, so we’re happy that it’s being animated under the auspices of David Steinberg and his team at Starz Animation Toronto,’ Sir Elton John said. ‘Toronto is a dynamic city with a great pool of talented animators, and the best of them are at work on Gnomeo & Juliet right now.’

The features is described as an irreverent comedy set in the back-drop of suburban English gardens and inspired by Shakespeare’s renowned love story. It centers on two young garden gnomes from feuding families of lawn ornaments, who are blissfully unaware their story is destined for a tragic ending… unless they can change their fate. The film, directed by Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2), features classic and new music from the Elton John and Bernie Taupin. James McAvoy (Atonement) and Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) will voice Gnomeo and Juliet. The project has long been a passion project for John, who has been working on the idea for 11 years with his partner, Toronto-born David Furnish.

The project is not the first animation outing for John, who co-wrote the music for the 1994 Disney feature The Lion King with Tim Rice.