Ewan McGregor, perhaps best known for playing a young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels, has signed on to voice the title character in upcoming computer-animated feature film Valiant from Vanguard Animation and Disney. The Scotland-born actor will lead a star-studded cast including Sir Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast, House of Sand and Fog) Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones’s Diary), Rupert Everett (An Ideal Husband, My Best Friend’s Wedding), John Hurt (Harry Potter films, The Elephant Man) Hugh Laurie (Stuart Little 1 and 2) and Ricky Gervais (BBC’s The Office).
Valiant is an adventure/comedy that tells the story of a lowly wood pigeon who overcomes his small size to become a hero in Great Britain’s Royal Air Force Homing Pigeon Service during World War II. The RHPS advanced the Allied cause by flying vital messages about enemy movements across the English Channel, while evading brutal attacks by the enemy’s Falcon brigade.
The role of Valiant villain goes to Kingsley, who received an Academy Award for playing the title role in Ghandi. He will voice feared German falcon leader General Keyserlingk.
British character designer Gary Chapman makes his directorial debut with this film, with Shrek 1 and 2 producer John H. Williams is producing for Vanguard. Exec. producers are Barnaby Thompson for Ealing Studios, Ralph Kamp for Odyssey Entertainment, Robert Jones for the U.K. Film Council, and Keith Evans for Baker Street Media Finance. Eric M. Bennett, Curtis Augspurger and Buckley Collum serve as co-producers for Vanguard.
Valiant is currently in production at Vanguard Animation’s recently built CG studio at Ealing Studios in London and is slated for completion in Dec. 2004. Additional work is being done at its Los Angeles and New York offices. Disney is distributing the picture in North America and Odyssey Entertainment in the U.K. is handling international distribution. Disney holds worldwide merchandising, soundtrack and video game rights as well.
If the film is successful, Vanguard will be well positioned to movie into Pixar’s role should Pixar and Disney decide to part ways. Pixar is currently trying to negotiate a new contract that will give it a larger cut of the profits on films it produces.
IDT Corp., a subsidiary of IDT Ent. Inc., recently made a significant investment in Vanguard Animation as part of a raft of media ventures that includes controlling stakes in Canadian CG studio Mainframe and Film Roman, the animation house behind The Simpsons and King of the Hill.