Imagi Picks Up DreamWorks’ Tusker

Daily Variety reports that Hong Kong- and Los Angeles-based animation company Imagi Int’l has taken the reins of the animated feature film Tusker, which was previously in the DreamWorks Animation pipeline. The family film set in India was originally slated to hit theaters in December of 2002, but slipped off the DreamWorks docket when the studio decided to instead make Shrek 2 and Madagascar. Imagi made last year’s TMNT and has adaptations of the popular anime properties Astro Boy and Gatchaman in production. Directed by David Bowers (Flushed Away), Astro Boy is scheduled to hit theaters worldwide in 2009. Gatchaman will likely follow in the second half of 2010.

Tusker is described a young elephant’s journey of discovery, heroism and redemption, which intersects with and renews the life of a reclusive old elephant who has always been an outsider. Former DreamWorks Animation co-head of production Cecil Kramer, who shepherded Tusker at the studio for six years, brought the project to Imagi. Brooke Breton (Avatar) is producing the film from a screenplay by Ted Tally (Silence of the Lambs). Imagi is eyeing early 2011 as a possible release window for the toon.

Imagi recently pacted with Mark Pawley and his Singapore-based private equity group Oxley Spring Media, which agreed to buy $40 million Imagi stock to help fund the studio’s productions. The deal was supposed to close by the end of July, but Imagi has had to extend the dealine for payment to the end of August to give Oxley more time to arrange for funding.

Imagi plans to release a new animated feature every eight months. Among the other projects in active development is Cat Tale, an animated movie that follows the adventures of a cat raised as a dog. Galen Walker is producing from a screenplay by Aaron Mendelsohn.