Sony Classics adopts ‘The Illusionist’

Posted by · 8:16 am · April 26th, 2010

Quelle surprise. “The Illusionist,” Sylvain Chomet’s long-gestating follow-up to the Oscar-nominated “The Triplets of Belleville,” has found the US distributor we all knew it eventually would. Sony Pictures Classics today announced their acquisition of the film, which they are readying for an end-of-year release — mirroring the strategy they took with “Belleville” back in 2003.

In doing so, Sony has all but secured its first Oscar nomination of the 2010 season. “The Illusionist” — a riff on an unproduced Jacques Tati screenplay and handily, for me, the year’s best film so far — is too ravishing an animator’s showcase not to gain serious awards notice, and a late-2010 release should keep it fresh on the radar.

In the meantime, the film will continue to wow on the festival circuit. It has already been selected to open the Edinburgh Film Festival in June — an ideal choice, given that the film is something of a valentine to the Scottish capital. Check out my review of the film from the Berlinale here, and an early Russian trailer here.

Full press release from Sony after the cut.

NEW YORK, NY (April 26, 2010) – Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all North American rights to Sylvain Chomet’s THE ILLUSIONIST from Pathe. The film is based on an unproduced screenplay by Jacques Tati and is produced by Bob Last and executive produced by Jake Eberts and Philippe Carcassonne (COCO BEFORE CHANEL). THE ILLUSIONIST had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival as a Berlinale Special Selection. It is planned for an end of year release.

Sony Pictures Classics previously worked with Chomet on his Academy Award® nominated film THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE and Carcassonne on COCO BEFORE CHANEL.

THE ILLUSIONIST details the story of a dying breed of stage entertainer whose thunder is being stolen by emerging rock stars. Forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theaters, garden parties and bars, he meets a young fan who changes his life forever.

“Collaborating with Sylvain on THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE was such a fantastic experience; we are so thrilled to be back partnering with him again on THE ILLUSIONIST, as well as our friends at Pathe, and producers Bob Last, Jake Eberts and Philippe Carcassonne. With a moving storyline and a work of art in each frame, audiences both young and old will connect with this film,” stated Sony Pictures Classics.

“There could not be a better home for THE ILLUSIONIST, Sony Pictures Classics understands the strengths of Sylvain’s work and have the passion required to take the film to the widest possible audience. I am delighted to be working with SPC again,” said producer Bob Last.

Executive producer Philippe Carcassonne adds, “We’re obviously thrilled to work again with the team behind so many of tomorrow’s classics – which is exactly what I hope THE ILLUSIONIST will soon become.”

→ 20 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

20 responses so far

  • 1 4-26-2010 at 9:28 am

    Estefan said...

    I’m really excited for this, but I think it will only get in with five nominations. If there’s only three noms for animated feature this year, they are guaranteed to be How to Train Your Dragon, Tangled and Toy Story 3, with any one of those three having an incredible shot of winning.

  • 2 4-26-2010 at 9:38 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Maybe, maybe not. But on the basis of its craft, I have a feeling animators will get behind this one more than they did, say, “Waltz With Bashir.”

    And beware of applying the word “guaranteed” to a film no one has seen yet.

  • 3 4-26-2010 at 9:39 am

    Mr. F said...

    While it has happened before that a stylish and crowd pleasing but not so good movie was nominated in the animated feature category (Shark Tale over The Polar Express and Spongebob in 2004 and Surf’s Up over The Simpsons in 2007), based on what I’ve heard of Tangled leads me to believe that it is just another average animated movie.

    Now, I do need to see Tangled before making a final judgement, but if The Triplets of Belleville got a nomination in a field of three, I don’t see why The Illusionist shouldn’t.

  • 4 4-26-2010 at 9:43 am

    Estefan said...

    “based on what I’ve heard of Tangled leads me to believe that it is just another average animated movie. ”

    Don’t know what your sources are telling you, but mine are saying it’s pretty impressive. I also think Glen Keane and John Lasseter are stronger influences on the animation branch than Sylvain Chomet is.

  • 5 4-26-2010 at 9:52 am

    Speaking English said...

    ***Spongebob in 2004***

    ??? “Spongebob” was never nominated…

  • 6 4-26-2010 at 9:52 am

    Speaking English said...

    Oh haha my bad. I see what you’re saying now. Sorry.

  • 7 4-26-2010 at 10:02 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    This is probably in. Animators have great respect for Chomet. Tangled is not guaranteed for anything. It’ll be on the course of, say, The Princess and the Frog, which needed five to get in.

  • 8 4-26-2010 at 10:11 am

    Estefan said...

    Okay, big prediction: Tangled is going to get amazing reviews, come November. If it gets less than 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, I will eat my slipper.

  • 9 4-26-2010 at 10:46 am

    Mr. F said...

    ” I also think Glen Keane and John Lasseter are stronger influences on the animation branch than Sylvain Chomet is.”

    Sure, this could help it get a nomination, and Disney seems to be having another reinassance, but still…we’ll have to wait and see.

    Plus, it has the Jacques Tati connection, which could possibly help it with the writers (but who knows with the way that the Academy is today)

  • 10 4-26-2010 at 11:27 am

    James D. said...

    The Triplets of Belleville is a movie I like more and more every time I think of it. I will be anxiously awaiting The Illusionist.

  • 11 4-26-2010 at 12:15 pm

    red_wine said...

    In other news, The White Ribbon tore through the Lolas (German Oscars) pretty much like A Prophet did through the Cesars(French Oscars). After being the toast of Europe and the arthouse crowd around the world, it was but obvious that both movies would hit the home-run in their respective countries. But both lost the Oscar. I’m still waiting to see The Secret In Their Eyes.

  • 12 4-26-2010 at 2:05 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Well, “The Secret in Their Eyes” tore through the Argentinian Oscars too, so I don’t think there’s much of an argument to be made there.

  • 13 4-26-2010 at 10:46 pm

    Glenn said...

    Wouldn’t it be a trip if Jacques Tati got an adapted screenplay nomination?

    Do remember that the year of “Belleville” the third nominee was, yikes, “Brother Bear”.

  • 14 4-27-2010 at 5:58 am

    BurmaShave said...

    TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE is one of the best films of the last decade, can’t wait.

  • 15 4-28-2010 at 4:49 am

    Chambers said...

    Shamefully the movie ignores that Tati had originally wrote the script as a heartfelt apology to his eldest daughter who he had abandoned in Paris during the Second World War and who today is very much still alive living herself on the Scottish Boarders.

    A very ugly situation however nice the imagery might first appear.

    It will be a incredibly hypocritical UNICEF after show party if this gets nominated for any Oscar. Not even France want it with Pathe passing it on for a garage sale price to Sony.

  • 16 4-28-2010 at 9:37 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Sharp understanding of the film distribution business you’ve got there. Pathe are handling the film in France, Sony in North America. Standard stuff.

    But assuming you’re the same person who’s been posting at the Film Experience and elsewhere, I admire the thoroughness of your anti-campaigning.

  • 17 4-29-2010 at 1:53 am

    Chambers said...

    Simply a child should not be denied their rights irrespective of how negligent their parents might have been towards them, rich or poor, famous or not.

    To then have a father’s anguished apology twisted years later to the suit the whim of others without acknowledging the source is disturbingly wrong.

  • 18 4-29-2010 at 7:00 am

    AV27 said...

    Perhaps Pathe just want to avoid any chance repeat of the negative publicity the Slumdog children produced. Sony lawyers are probably better equipped to callously blow obscenities at a retired grandmother with her deceased father’s intended apology.

  • 19 4-29-2010 at 7:17 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    @Chambers/AV27: It’s cute that you think we can’t tell you’re the same person, but technology is a marvellous thing. Give it a rest.

  • 20 4-29-2010 at 8:11 am

    AV27 said...

    Whats wrong Guy isn’t deceit what Illusionists are all about? ;-)