Young Merlin Casts Spell on Producers

Harry Potter is about to get some competition in the kid wizard field as another famous spell caster gets set to return to the big screen in Young Merlin. UWPictures/O-Group, Ltd. and Three Kings Ent. have optioned the coming-of-age story from writer Robert Kahn and plan to make it the first chapter of a major motion picture trilogy that blends live-action and CG animation.

Slated to begin filming in the U.K. before the end of the year, Young Merlin chronicles the adventures of the famed sorcerer as a small boy in Fifth Century Britain following the departure of the Romans. MachineFx, one of the effects houses behind the Harry Potter films, has been tapped to handle the extensive CG work. The fantasy pic has been budgeted at a modest $25 million.

UWPictures, headed by Olivier Castagne, has five other co-productions in development with Century City, Calif.-based Three Kings Ent., managed by Joey DePinto.

Kahn is negotiating the sale of his latest project, Frozen Fire, an action-thriller set in the world of international terrorism.