Former Nickelodeon topper Albie Hecht has teamed with Oscar-nominated Shrek writer Joe Stillman to develop a CG sci-fi movie titled Planet One. Slated to hit theaters in 2008, the film will be budgeted at around $50 million and will be funded by Madrid-based Ilion Animation Studios, the feature division of video game maker Pyro Studios (Commandos).
Putting a comic twist on the sci-fi movies of the 1950s, Planet One will have an alien planet dealing with an extraterrestrial visitor from earth. The action will revolve around an adventure-seeking alien named Lem and swinging American astronaut Captain Russ Baker. Lem dreams of exploring space but can’t find the courage to move out of his parents’ basement until a NASA spacecraft drops out of the sky. Expecting to touch down on a barren planet, Captain Baker finds himself landing in the middle of someone’s barbecue and becomes a fugitive from the paranoid local authorities. With Lem’s help, he must find his way back to the ship so he can return home.
In another case of deja-toon, the concept is reminiscent of a project in development at DreamWorks Animation. Pitched by South Park contributors Josh Lobis and Darin Moiselle, It Came From Earth! also has aliens coping with the arrival of human astronauts.
At Nickelodeon, Hecht served as exec producer on such features as The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius. Planet One will be the flagship production for Hecht’s new shingle, Worldwide Biggies.
‘Worldwide Biggies’ goal is to produce projects that will generate characters that can be developed across multiple platforms,’ says Hecht. ‘With Ilion’s huge commitment to CG animation, and the creative genius of Joe Stillman, Planet One has the key ingredients in place to establish characters that can be built into major children’s franchises.’
With offices in New York and Los Angeles, Worldwide Biggies has established a children’s programming development deal on Nickelodeon and has produced the Video Game Awards on Spike TV, which Hecht created during his tenure as the networ’s president.