After a 40-year career as a live-action director, Ron Howard, 65, is set to make his animation directorial debut with The Shrinking of Treehorn, an adaptation of the 1971 children’s book by Florence Parry Heide.

The surreal story about a boy who starts shrinking was originally illustrated by Edward Gorey, and Howard is said to be following Gorey’s aesthetic, even if the film will be made in cg. It will mark the first film in a partnership between Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment and the Australian animation studio Animal Logic (The Lego Movie franchise, Happy Feet). Imagine and Animal Logic initiated the partnership back in 2017.

“I’ve long had this passionate point of view that Ron Howard should make a tentpole animated movie. That’s how this started,” Zareh Nalbandian, Animal Logic CEO, told Variety, which first reported the news. “It was serendipitous that Imagine was sort of evolving and growing, and Animal Logic was more and more committed to the development and production of our own intellectual property. We have a shared vision of what that space can be.”

Paramount Animation will release The Shrinking of Treehorn as part of its upcoming slate of animated features. Rob Lieber (Peter Rabbit, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day) is handling script duties.

In addition to Treehorn, Imagine and Animal Logic have announced three additional animated and hybrid movies that the companies are developing jointly. Those are:

  • Rainbow Serpent, a creation story rooted in Australian aboriginal culture, written by Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra). Also set up at Paramount Animation.
  • The buddy comedy Zero, written by Jonathon E. Stewart and Eyal Podell (Cars 3, The Angry Birds Movie 2, Smallfoot) and to be directed by Carlos Stevens. According to Variety, the film will look at “the connection between family and technology, in the vein of the Pixar original Inside Out.” Warner Bros. is on board for the film.
  • The cg/live-action hybrid Muttnik about “a dog launched into space by the Russians, who crosses the space-time continuum and returns home to his family an evolved creature.” No distributor on board for the film yet.

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