Feature Film

Shout! Factory Picks Up Hand-Drawn French Film ‘Long Way North’ for U.S. Release (Trailer)

Long Way North (Tout en haut du monde), which debuted in Annecy last June, where it won the audience award, is finally being released theatrically in France this Wednesday. The distributor Diaphana will launch it on 150 screens.

It used to be that foreign animation like this rarely, if ever, made it to the United States, but times are changing. The stylized action-adventure film directed by Rémi Chayé will make a voyage to the United States later in 2016, courtesy of Shout! Factory. It’s one of the stronger picks-ups for Shout, which has distributed other international animated features including Snowtime! and Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart. Here’s the English-subtitled trailer:

The film is not only hand-drawn, but employs a graphic approach to design and animation that deviates from the smooth Disney-style movement that Americans typically associate with hand-drawn feature animation. Chayé has some experience in this area; he was the head of layout and first assistant director on Cartoon Saloon’s Oscar-nominated feature The Secret of Kells.

The visual style isn’t the only unique selling point either. The film has a female lead, a rarity for Western action-adventure animation. Long Way North tells the story of Sasha, a young Russian aristocrat who sets out to find her grandfather and his missing ship that disappeared during an expedition to the North Pole.

While no date is set yet for the American release, the filmmakers of Long Way North recently toured the film through American studios, screening it for colleagues at Disney, DreamWorks, Paramount, Pixar, and Laika.

The film was produced by Sacrebleu Productions, Maybe Movies, and Norlum for a reported budget of €6.1 million (US$6.6 million), and has scored distribution deals throughout much of Europe, as well as other international territories. According to Screen Daily, foreign pickups so far include UK and Ireland (Soda), Belgium (Le Parc), the Netherlands (Periscoop), Luxembourg (Tarantula), Switzerland (Agora), Italy (PFA Films), Spain (Pack Magic), Norway (Storytelling), Denmark (SF), Greece (Videorama), Czech Republic (Artcam), Slovakia (ASFK), ex-Yugoslavia (MRTN), Hungary (Cirko), Poland (Vivarto), Romania (Associatia Culturala Macondo), Bulgaria (Artfest), Estonia (Menufilmid), Turkey (Digiturk), and South Korea (Challan).