There’s a fascinating box office match-up brewing in Spain this weekend between DreamWorks Animation’s Penguins of Madagascar and the homegrown Spanish CGI feature Mortadelo y Filemón contra Jimmy el Cachondo, which will be released by Warner Bros. The latter is based on Francisco Ibáñez’s beloved comic book characters Mortadelo y Filemón (Mort & Phil), and as you’ll see in the trailer below, they’ve got the same slapstick-spy setup as the penguins:
While the characters are all but unknown to American audiences, Mort & Phil have a big following in Spain and have starred in two successful live-action features over the last decade—La gran aventura de Mortadelo y Filemón in 2003 and Mortadelo y Filemón. Misión: salvar la Tierra in 2008. Their appearances in animation have been irregular, and most of the animation that has been made with the characters, like the 1960s theatrical short series and 1994 TV series, look cheap.
This new CG film, however, is an ambitious production, and judging by the trailer, sets a new standard for CG feature animation out of Spain. The director is Oscar-nominated and Goya-winning director Javier Fesser who produced the film out of Madrid-based Ilion Animation Studios, best known in the States for the feature Planet 51. The studio is currently gearing up for another stateside project with the burgeoning Paramount Animation.
The film’s budget was reportedly around US$12.5 million when the project was announced a couple years ago. It’s been difficult to find an updated figure, but even if the film cost double that amount, it’s still a handsome-looking production for its relatively small budget.
Check back on Sunday to see how the local Spanish spies fared against DreamWorks’s Los Pingüinos de Madagascar.
For reference, here’s how the characters looked in animation during the 1960s: