Frozen’s head of animation Lino DiSalvo has joined ON Animation to direct Playmobil: Robbers, Thieves & Rebels, the $75 million CGI-animated feature based on the popular German toy brand.

Lino DiSalvo.
Lino DiSalvo.

DiSalvo, who had been with Paramount Animation as creative director since 2014, is taking over the helms from Bob Persichetti, who had been slated to both write and direct Playmobil when it was announced last fall. (Persichetti was head of story on DreamWorks’ Puss in Boots and ON Animation’s own The Little Prince.) News of the directorial change was first reported yesterday by Variety.

The Playmobil movie, which will be animated in Canada, is being produced by Dimitri Rassam and Aton Soumache’s Parisian studio ON Animation, which also produced Mark Osborne’s soon-to-be-released-in-the-U.S. The Little Prince.

“Lino is an amazing storyteller, and brings to Playmobil his wealth of experience at Disney and his love for the Playmobil toy culture,” Soumache and Rassam told Variety.

“I’ve learned most of my skills by growing up in the Disney system,” said DiSalvo, who spent 15 years working as an animator at Disney (first at Dream Quest Images and later at Walt Disney Animation Studios). “I was very fortunate to work on films like Tangled and Frozen. I am thrilled at the prospect of developing the Playmobil film. As a father and a filmmaker, to create a film about your son’s favorite toy, what else do you want?”

Playmobil is backed by Pathe, which will co-produce the film and handle French distribution, and Wild Bunch, which is handling international sales. American distribution rights have already been snatched up by Cross Creek Pictures (Everest, Black Mass), marking the distributor’s first foray into animation.

ON Animation is already looking beyond the first Playmobil movie and has announced a cinematic trilogy based on the toy line. DiSalvo’s Playmobil: Robbers, Thieves & Rebels is scheduled for worldwide release at the end of 2018.