The Secret of Moonacre, a feature by former animation maven and three-time Emmy Award winner Gabor Csupo, is shooting entirely in Hungary, leaving most of its $27 million (€19 million) budget in the country. Principal photography began Sept. 3 and continues for 50 shooting days.
Budapest-based Eurofilm Studio (http://www.kftv.com/company-10475.html) is providing production services. Eurofilm's Gabor Varadi is serving as both line producer and second unit director. Already pre-sold in the UK, France, Benelux, Korea and Latin-America, worldwide sales are being handled by Velvet Octopus Sales (www.velvetoctopus.com).
Production funding was secured by Spice Factory and Velvet Octopus through Cayman Islands-based Aramid Entertainment (www.aramidfund.com) and the UK Film Council's Premiere Fund (www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk), which invested Ł1.23 million (euro 1.78 million).
The Secret of Moonacre, formerly titled The Moon Princess, is produced by Australia's Forgan-Smith Entertainment, which originated the project (www.forgan-smith.com), and Spice Factory UK Limited (www.spicefactory.co.uk), with partners Eurofilm Studio in Hungary and Metropolitan in France.
Locations include the Hungarian State Opera House, the Pilis forests, and a medieval castle in Csesznek. Several interior scenes are being shot on local sound stages.
Only special effects will be handled outside of Hungary, most likely in England.
Set in the 1840s, the film is based on Elizabeth Goudge's 1946 children's book "The Little White Horse”-a favorite children’s book of Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling—the story of a 13-year-old orphan's adventure in a magical world from which she must banish an ancient curse. It marks the second fantasy feature for Csupo whose directorial debut earlier this year, The Bridge to Terrabithia, found gold for Walden Media (www.walden.com) and Disney (disney.go.com/disneypictures/index.html), earning $108 million worldwide.
The film stars Dakota Blue Richards, Ioan Gruffudd, Natascha McElhone and Tim Curry of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame. The filmmakers are aiming for a mid-2008 release date.
Hungarian emigrée Csupo left his homeland in 1976 and with his former wife Arlene Klasky established one of Hollywood's most prolific animation studios, KlaskyCsupo (www.klaskycsupo.com). They created The Wild Thornberrys and Rugrats, and produced The Simpsons series.