Varietyreports that Eric Leighton is set to direct an all CGI feature film version of AstroBoyfor Sony Pictures Entertainment. Leighton co-directed Disney's CGI flick Dinosaur.Todd Alcott (Antz) and Ken Kaufman (Space Cowboys)wrote the screenplay for the film, based on Osamu Tezuka manga creation.
AstroBoytells the story of a grieving scientist who creates an artificial boy to replacehis dead son. The character becomes a a publicly renowned superhero -- completewith devices like laser-firing fingers, uncanny hearing and jet-powered boots --all eventually used to repulse an alien invasion of Earth.
According to thewrite-up Sony's Imageworks special effect facility is already working up testfootage for the film. A 2004 release date is planned. Variety indicatesthat AstroBoy may be part of an effort by Sony to reposition itsImageworks special effects facility as a digital studio on par with Pixar. Themove is bolstered by the recent box office successes of Disney/Pixar's Monsters,Inc. and Dreamworks' Shrek.
Don Murphy'sAngryfilms (From Hell) is set to produce. Lisa Henson, presidentof Jim Henson Pictures and Kristine Belson, production executive at Henson, willalso produce. SPE vice-chairman Gareth Wigan is overseeing the production.