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Guillermo del Toro finds soul with 'Alma'

October 20, 2010 |  6:50 pm


EXCLUSIVE: Guillermo del Toro has been getting involved with a number of animated films since signing a landmark deal with DreamWorks Animation last month.

Now, he has a new one on his plate, and it's decidedly moodier than some of the other movies he's associated himself with. It's called "Alma," and it tells the story of children facing the specter of dark forces.

Sources familiar with the project said Del Toro will produce and godfather the film, which is based on a hot short about dolls and child-snatching from Rodrigo Blaas, a former Pixar employee who has come over to DreamWorks Animation to work on the movie.

Blaas will direct the feature, which will be inspired by but reinvent the short's concept. (You can watch the creepy film, which we had written about back in the spring as one of several shorts that had Hollywood buzzing, just below.)

Blaas is also in negotiations to co-direct, with Del Toro, "Trollhunters," a movie based on a young-adult novel written by Del Toro, the sources said. DreamWorks Animation declined to comment.

There are similarities between "Alma" and "Troll Hunters": Both are fairy tales about good children interacting with, and possibly victimized by, creatures that exist just below the surface of the world we know. (Both have a "Pan's Labyrinth" vibe too.)

Since moving over from Disney, Del Toro has come on as a consultant and executive producer on the "Kung Fu Panda" sequel as well as "Puss in Boots." But "Alma" and "Troll Hunters" take Del Toro in a more characteristically dark direction. [For the record: An earlier version of this post contained the incorrect movie title "Puss n' Boots."]

The news comes, coincidentally, on the same day as "The Hobbit" saw its last hurdle to production lifted. Had events unfolded differently in New Zealand, Del Toro would now have been deep in pre-production on "The Hobbit." As it is, he's getting his animation on.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Guillermo del Toro. Credit: Getty Images


Shorts are a shortcut to Hollywood success


Comments () | Archives (3)

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Great short story. Everyone should see the clip.

Very powerful - in mind and mood - well done - just go for it !!

I'm very excited about this project.

I really enjoyed the short film Alma as it carries the same tone of Irwin Allen's Lost in Space and Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone and yet it has the same innocent charm mixed with a magical dash of "things that go bump in the night" as Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and the Mel Stuart/ David L. Wolper classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

I hope that Guillermo Del Toro and Rodrigo Blaas will maintain the same art style and whimsical music score as are in this original animation short along with the same character design for Alma herself. I only wonder if they'll voice Alma via Dakota Fanning?

I also hope that Del Toro won't drift to far away from the lighthearted nature of the original animation short.

All in all, DreamWorks Animation has been slowly but surely proving that Disney & Pixar ought to keep a peek over their shoulders as DreamWorks Animation has indeed begun to dethrone the House of Mouse from their seat atop the throne of Animation Domination with their recent masterpieces "Flushed Away" and "How To Train Your Dragon". With Alma DreamWorks Animation will finally solidify their place in the animation ring amid Pixar and 20th Century FOX's Blue Sky Studios.


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