Paramount and Sony might co-parent "Tintin"
It looks like Paramount Pictures may have found a co-parenting partner for Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's planned "Tintin" movie, which was orphaned after Universal Pictures opted out over financial concerns. Sony Pictures is close to finalizing a deal to pick up half of the cost of the 3-D motion-capture film, which is budgeted at $130 million before marketing expenses.
"Tintin," to be directed by Spielberg and produced by Jackson, could begin production before the end of the year if negotiations conclude next week, as expected. Spielberg, who has wanted to make "Tintin" since 1983 when his production company Amblin Entertainment was based at Universal, originally hoped to start shooting last month. But, after he and Jackson submitted a final budget and their rich profit-sharing deals to Universal, the studio passed, deeming it too risky. Under that deal, the picture would have to gross $425 million in revenue before Universal and Paramount could break even.
Based on a Belgian comic book series about the global adventures of a young reporter and his sidekick dog, "Tintin" has a loyal following abroad but is less well known in the U.S. In the deal currently discussed, Paramount would release the movie in North America, the United Kingdom and Asia. Sony would handle the film in Europe and Latin America.
Also risky is the fact that other motion or performance-capture films, in which actors' movements are recorded by body sensors and fed into a computer and manipulated, have had a mixed track record at the box office. Sony's "Monster House" grossed just $140 million worldwide, and Paramount's "Beowulf," $196 million worldwide -- far below the more than $400 million the studios need to earn their investment back on "Tintin."
Officials from Paramount and Sony declined to comment.
Spielberg and Jackson are hoping to make two "Tintin" films, with Jackson directing the second and Spielberg producing. But the deal being negotiated between Paramount and Sony is only for the first.
One risk at a time, guys.
-- Claudia Eller
Photo: Jacques Demarthon / AFP/Getty Images