‘Ernest & Celestine’ and ‘Hoodwinked’ Directors Collaborate on French Pic ‘Yellowbird’

In an environment where The Nut Job can make $60 million at the U.S. box office, is it any surprise that American film companies are gung-ho about animated features? Deals for foreign animated films are being struck at an unprecedented rate, and budding Los Angeles-based distributor Wrekin Hill has joined the fray by acquiring the North American distribution rights to the CG animated film Yellowbird, which centers on a fearful orphaned bird’s journey of self-discovery from Europe to Africa. The film, acquired earlier this month by Wrekin Hill in a seven-figure deal at the European Film Market in Berlin, is currently wrapping production at the French studio TeamTO. It was originally titled Occho Kochoï, and later Gus, before settling on Yellowbird.

Yellowbird has a fascinating pedigree. The film was designed by Benjamin Renner, a co-director on the Oscar-nominated Ernest and Celestine. Renner designed Yellowbird prior to directing Ernest & Celestine, while he was still a student at the French school La Poudrière. Yellowbird’s helmer is industry veteran Christian De Vita, a story artist on Frankenweenie and Fantastic Mr. Fox. The film originally had a second director, Dominique Monfery (director of Disney’s Destino), but it appears that Monfery is no longer involved. De Vita worked from a script by screenwriter Antoine Barraud, French ornithologist Guilhem Lesaffre, and Cory Edwards, the co-writer/co-director of Hoodwinked (2005).

“We believe that Yellowbird will capture the imagination of children, teens and adults alike,” said Wrekin Hill president and CEO Chris Ball. “It is a beautifully written story about the power of self-discovery and community that will surely take audiences on an incredible emotional journey with its characters. With films like Frozen and The Nut Job showing strength at the U.S. box office, it is clear that there is a real hunger for satisfying family entertainment.”

The American dub of Yellowbird will feature the voices of Seth Green, Dakota Fanning, Danny Glover, Jim Rash and Christine Baranski. It is currently scheduled for U.S. release in fall 2014.


  • Steven Bowser

    I would love to see interviews with the people behind low-budget films like The Nut Job, but it would be hard to interview them without coming out and saying “We don’t like your movie. Tell us about how it wasn’t very good but made a lot of money!” That would be…rude to say the least.

    • Amid Frank

      Funny thing about The Nut Job is that there was coincidentally a short done in 2007 of the same name, and similar scenario.

      • cd

        because is same director

  • megadrivesonic

    Finally a low budget movie that’s art style is actually appealing, cant say the same for the nut job.

  • Mister Twister

    Well color me surprised. Did not expect such a pairing. Wow.

    Well, CG or not, I do like the style. Please don’t let this be a turd…

  • Mister Man

    And yet ANOTHER animated film joins the fray for this upcoming year! How many competitive foreign/independent films are we up to now?

    - The Congress
    - The Prophet
    - Song of the Sea
    - The Tale of Princess Kaguya

    - Yellowbird

    I am very excited for all of these films to be (hopefully!) hitting United States shores in the coming months.

  • C. Rose

    This looks and sounds like it could be a potential winner with audiences! The current renders look amazing, and I am in love with the Yellowbird’s goofy design. Here’s wishing it all the best luck!