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Guillermo del Toro finds soul with 'Alma'

October 20, 2010 |  6:50 pm

Deltoro

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
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Guillermo del Toro. Credit: Getty Images

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