Gnomeo in Miramax’s Garden

After getting the boot by the new toon regime at Walt Disney Feature Animation, the animated feature Gnomeo and Juliet has been picked up Mouse House subsidiary Miramax Films. The musical comedy from Sir Elton John’s Rocket Pictures will be animated in 3D in London with Academy Award-nominated producer Baker Bloodworth (Disney shorts Destino, Lorenzo) guiding the production.

Gnomeo and Juliet will offer an animated twist on Shakespeare’s classic love story by setting it in the world of tacky garden gnomes. The project is being shepherded by Miramax president Daniel Battsek and Rocket Pictures producing partners David Furnish and Steve Hamilton Shaw, who are finishing post-production on their latest film, It’s A Boy Girl Thing.

Elton John and Oscar-winning lyricist Tim Rice will collaborate on new songs for the film. “I am very excited about working with Miramax,” John states. “Gnomeo is an edgy concept and Miramax is the perfect home to push the envelope in animation.’

Rocket Pictures brought the project to Disney several years ago and a script was completed by Rob Sprackling and John Smith. Rumor has it that Pixar creative head John Lasseter wasn’t impressed with the concept and dropped the axe upon taking the reins at the iconic toon studio that Walt built. A new Gnomeo script has been penned by Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley, and Oscar-nominated actress Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland, Titanic) is attached to star.

Miramax will compete in the burgeoning independent feature animation arena with former company heads Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who are acquiring toon projects left and right through their new shingle, The Weinstein Co. The brothers had a significant hit in Hoodwinked and followed it up with the poorly performing Doogal. Animated projects on the Weinstein development slate include Exodus’ Igor, director Luc Besson’s Arthur and the Minimoys and a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.