“Kung Fu Panda” Director Mark Osborne Will Helm “The Little Prince”

Onyx Films, the Paris-based producer of the fantasy film Upside Down and the low-budget animated sci-fi Renaissance, is currently working on an animated film adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 novella The Little Prince.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film has now gained a voice cast comprised of James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Benicio Del Toro and Paul Giamatti. More notably, the film is to be directed by Mark Osborne, co-director of Dreamworks’ 2008 hit action-comedy Kung Fu Panda.

Some may consider it unusual for the director of a successful animated film from a major American studio to move on to a project from a small foreign studio, however when you consider the diversity of Osborne’s previous work: live action sequences in Spongebob Squarepants, music video work for “Weird Al” Yankovic and a half-dozen live action and stop motion film projects, it seems like his experience may aid a project of any size.


  • jmahon

    FINALLY!!!! I’ve waited for this for my entire childhood!

    Kung Fu Panda was an amazingly emotional and fantastically written movie that, for me, came out of the left field and surprised me- it’s one of my favourite animated movies, to this day. I am so glad it’s in Mark Osborne’s hands- he can make it great. I’m also happy it’s being made in France, too!

    • the Gee

      There was an oddball live action version made in the 70s. It probably could be said to be charming. But, I have not read the book so I don’t know if it was or was not completely faithful to the story.

      • http://pabster.tumblr.com/ Anonymous

        The movie is definitely a hit or miss, the musical numbers can throw one off. I enjoyed it personally, though the book is superior. If you get a chance, I’d recommend it (or even the audio book version, which I thought they did a very good job as well)

    • Joris

      More recently, there was also this…
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzVfNgxF52Y

  • http://www.facebook.com/julian.ducharme Jason Cezar Duncan

    “Some may consider it unusual for the director of a successful animated film from a major American studio to move on to a project from a small foreign studio” When money’s not as much an issue and you probably want to have more creative control on things, who wouldn’t?

    • Roberto Severino

      Yup. It reminds me of a radio host that I listen to who was laid off from the company that he worked at. He took a year sabbatical while getting paid by this company with regards to his contract and used the time to figure out how to make a viable, profitable online streaming show.

      He experimented with several music channels and looked at the business models from other radio shows. Then he invested a million dollars of his own money into creating an online platform, a premium subscription and everything and listened to what his audience wanted.

      He’s been doing his show completely online for over a year now and is now in the black and having the most fun he’s had in probably about 20 years! I won’t mention the name of the guy here since I don’t think it would that relevant to the story, but you’re completely right about creative control.

      Not having to go through some Wall Street middleman or corporate entity like Clear Channel and being able to have complete control over your show and to be able to express any idea without getting in trouble with the FCC must be an incredible feeling despite the hard work it took to get to that point and to work out all the bugs and glitches. Not nearly making as much as when he had that contract with that major radio company, but he said it was completely worth it.

  • Marian

    Is this still part stop motion/part CG?

  • JodyMorgan

    “a voice cast comprised of James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Benicio Del Toro and Paul Giamatti”

    Is it wrong that my interest in the project took a major dive after reading that cast list?

    • jmahon

      I’m on the opposite side, they may be famous names but they’re all very good actors.

    • reply

      you don’t like main stream actors? James Franco is the only name I find uninteresting in that list.

  • http://the-animatorium.blogspot.com/ Natalie Belton

    This is interesting! I hope that the project goes well. Many people are probably anxious to see what one of France’s most iconic childern’s books will look like on the large screen. Does anybody know what medium the animation itself will be in?

  • http://pabster.tumblr.com/ Anonymous

    Yeah…I got a little excited, but I may be in the minority here of the ones that did not enjoy Kung-Fu Panda, so I’m going to go drown my childhood now.

  • Scott550

    Osborne was CO-director on Panda…John Stevenson was co-director as well.

  • Tim

    The small, spherical planet thing is absolutely AMAZING in video game form, in Super Mario Galaxy 2. It’ll be exciting to see what they do with it in a film. It could be really beautiful.

  • Yoram Benz

    Hopefully this will be better than the recent French-produced animated TV show. That one is a disaster!

  • molochmachine

    Ugh, this is going to be a shallow mess. Kung Fu Panda was… fine. It was a very very small, Hollywood story, but told decently, with very nice action sequences and pretty emotionally compelling montages. The Little Prince offers nice set pieces but no significant action. It’s a dialogue-laden story almost exclusively consisting of a small child interrogating a variety of people, plants and animals. Its main romantic subplot is between a boy and a non-anthropomorphic flower. Its profundity lies in relationships and internal monologues, not in external expression or physicality.

    Its most important elements don’t lend themselves to film, and those elements that do will overpower the others in the process of adaptation. I don’t want to see a ten minute sequence of the prince wrangling space-birds, or of the narrator’s plane skipping through clouds. I don’t want to hear the prince sing, or maybe worse, see him bond with the narrator in a sequence backed by some sacharine pop song. What makes this story unique and important can be adapted, but not within the sensibilities that this project seems to embracing.

    Oh yeah, and that fox better damn well be a fennec.

    • afterthought

      Little Prince has been adapted twice as far as I know, possibly more. Claymation and live action, Gene Wilder played the fox in the live action one. Both were fantastic trips.

  • kiptw

    I agree, it’s not a visual story or a slapstick fest. I expect we will see a whole planetoid that farts, though, in 3D.

    For a great voice cast in this story, let’s journey back to the 1950s, when CBS Radio Workshop presented Raymond Burr narrating, with Richard Beals in the title role, and Hans Conried, Joseph Kearns, & Ben Wright (don’t know him) filling it out.

  • truteal

    I get depressed whenever they say “Kung Fu Panda Director Mark Osborne” instead of “More creator Mark Osborne” (I get depressed a lot)

    • djasp

      “more” was amazing.. one of the best things ive ever seen

  • Dylan Cuffy

    Also of note: Back in the late 1970s, Saint-Exupéry’s story was adapted into an anime series. Produced by the Knack studio; aired on the U.S. Nickelodeon in the following decade.