Sony Goes Neanderthal with Favreau

Actor-cum-director Jon Favreau has been building a busy slate of helming gigs since his Will Ferrell holiday comedy, Elf, proved a big hit for New Line Cinema. As he works to complete Columbia Pictures’ sci-fi kid lit adaptation, Zathrua: A Space Adventure, the multi-hyphenate has set up an animated feature titled Neanderthals at Sony Pictures Animation.

Favreau will write and produce the CG toon feature, which is based on his original concept. The studio is keeping a tight lid on the film’s plotline for the time being, but it’s assumed that it will take place in prehistoric times, much like DreamWorks’ and Aardman’s upcoming Crood Awakening, which is being written by Monty Python alum John Cleese.

“Jon’s passion for this story and his love of animation make this a perfect fit for us,” say Sony Pictures Animation exec VPs Penney Finkelman Cox and Sandra Rabins. “We are thrilled to be working with him in realizing his distinctive vision.”

Neanderthals is the second Sony Pictures Animation project for Favreau, who voices the character Reilly, the construction foreman of a group of dam-building beavers, in Open Season, the toon studio’s first full-length animated feature. Sony Animation is also hard at work on its follow-up project, the penguin surfing comedy Surf’s Up!, slated for release in the summer of 2007. Open Season will turn the tables on hunters on Sept. 29, 2006.

In addition to his film work, Favreau is the creator, producer and host of the Emmy-nominated IFC series Dinner for Five. His take on Chris Van Allsburg’s Zathura is due in theaters on November 11.