Miramax Spins Magic Roundabout Deal

Daily Variety reports that Miramax will distribute the animated feature Sprung! The Magic Roundabout in North and South America. Based on the ’60s U.K. puppet series, The Magic Roundabout, the Pathe Pictures Int’l film is now post-production and is set to be completed in January.

Directed by Jean Duval, Frank Passingham and Dave Borthwick, Sprung tells the story of four unlikely heroes and their quest to recover three magic diamonds, reverse the onset of a brutal winter and return the evil ice sorcerer Zeebad to his prison beneath the ground.

Sir Ian McKellen (the Lord of the Rings and X-Men sagas) will provide the voice of Zebedee. Other celebrities on board include pop stars Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue, as well as acclaimed actors Ray Winstone (King Arthur, Sexy Beast) Bill Nighy (Love Actually, The upcoming Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge!, Vanity Fair).

Sprung is a co-production of Pathé, France’s Films Action and the U.K.’s Bolex Bros./SPZ. French studio Action Synthése is handling the animation using Softimage|XSI, according to company president Pascal Rodon.

The original Magic Roundabout series was created by Frenchman Serge Danot in the late 1960s, then adapted into English by Eric Thompson. The new movie is slated to spin into theaters in the U.K. and France next February.

Since acquiring North American distribution rights to Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, Miramax has become steadily more involved with animation. In addition to co-producing and distributing the direct-to-video BIONICLE features, the studio has acquired the new CG animated film In Search of Santa from Tundra Prods. and Colorland Animation Prods., distributed Paul McCartney: The Music and Animation Collection on DVD, picked up distribution rights to a direct-to-video animated feature based on Mattel’s My Scene brand, nabbed North American TV and home entertainment rights to The Great North Pole Elf Strike from Chris Walker’s Modern Cartoons and is co-producing an Opus feature based on Berkeley Breathed’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip, Bloom County.