Back in 2020, French production house TeamTO acquired licensing rights to the popular fantasy graphic novel series NINN. This week, the studio is in Bordeaux for Cartoon Movie, where producers will host an in-development pitch for their project.
As part of the pitch, they’re screening a brand-new teaser for the project, and they’ve given Cartoon Brew exclusive access to share with our readers.
The original NINN graphic novels are written by Jean-Michel Darlot and illustrated by Belgian artist Johan Pilet. With four novels released so far, the books have sold more than 100,000 copies in France. A fifth book is currently in production.
The 80-minute feature adaptation is being directed by Salomé Chatelain from a screenplay by Shakira Pressley. Juliette Brocal, who recently worked on character designs for Mars Express and The Summit of the Gods, is the lead character designer for this film.
In the film, as in the books, Ninn was found as a baby in the Paris metro and adopted by two Metro workers. Thanks to her upbringing, Ninn knows the underground like the back of her hand and is more comfortable skateboarding through its passages than she is anywhere else.
Despite her outwardly carefree attitude, Ninn has a million questions about her life and where she came from. She’s constantly confronted by confusing memories and begins to see colorful kaleidoscopes of butterflies fluttering through the underground tunnels. Even more surprising, Ninn gets a hold of an origami tiger named Stripey that can turn into a life-sized walking and talking guardian.
“Ninn and her tiger have a real comedic rapport, a camaraderie, a whimsical charm,” said supervising producer Marine Tuloup. “Stripey is certainly Ninn’s biggest fan, but she is also there to keep Ninn focused and with her feet in reality… whatever you’d like to believe reality is…”
According to TeamTO, NINN unspools in a tonal universe similar to that of series and films such as Enola Holmes, for its “mystery-solving maven who is loved for her curiosity and confidence”; The Chronicles of Narnia, and His Dark Materials in how it “deals with family, friendships, and growing up;” and Calvin and Hobbes for “the comedy and banter.”
On what drew her to the project, Chatelain explained, “I really connected with Ninn, who is this free-spirited young girl. She loves to skateboard in the Metro; she is so badass! She takes us on her magical journey with her humor and her bursts of courage.”
Producer Corinne Kouper added, “I’ve lived in Paris all my life. Our main studio is in Paris near Bastille. Taking the metro is part of our daily life, it is perhaps one of the reasons why we love NINN’s story so much. I fell in love with this image of Ninn waiting for the Metro, with her large and whimsical tiger by her side.”