Unified Pictures Builds a New Ark


Unified Pictures is set to produce CG-animated feature Noah’s Ark and has signed Philip LaZebnik to script, according to Keith Kjarval, founder of Unified. LaZebnik co-wrote The Prince of Egypt, Mulan and Pocahontas.

Noah’s Ark is budgeted at $35 million and tells the epochal Biblical tale from the point of view of the animals’ journey. Unified will rely on its private financing. The studio has contracted ElectroAge to handle the animation.

“It tells a story everyone is familiar with,” said Kjarval. “We envision it as a border-crossing project that has yet to be done in animation, in the style of ‘Ice Age,’ ‘The Incredibles’ or ‘Open Season.'”

Kurt Rauer, co-founder of Unified, added, “Our approach to this universal story will be to create a timeless look that is both traditional in its artistry and novel by its use of modern technology and software. In the end, we believe that ‘Noah’ will be looked upon as a high watermark in the animated genre.”

Also upcoming for Unified is Beneath the Shadow, for which the studio has completed the development and financing. “Shadow” is set to go in to production the first of the year. Anton Pardoe will script the psychological thriller. Kjarval produces.

Unified recently completed principal photography on Bob Funk, a romantic comedy starring Rachael Leigh Cook (Nancy Drew, She’s All That), Michael Leydon Campbell (Sidewalks of New York), Stephen Root and Grace Zabriskie. Craig Carlisle (Joe Fearless) wrote and directed. The film was produced by Kjarval and executive produced by Ben Ruffman.

Post-production has been completed on The Perfect Sleep, a revenge action/drama starring Roselyn Sanchez (Rush Hour 2, The Game Plan) and Anton Pardoe, with Pardoe scripting. Jeremy Alter (Inland Empire) produced and directed. Martin Hunter (Full Metal Jacket, The Shining) edited. Kjarval acquired, developed and produced the stylized noir feature with Alter and Pardoe.

Currently in post-production is the psychological thriller XII, starring Mercedes McNab (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and Nick Searcy (Runaway Jury, The Assassination of Richard Nixon). Michael A. Nickles (This Is Not a Film) directed. Nickles along with Kjarval, Rauer and Tim Montijo developed. Ruffman was executive producer.

According to Kjarval, Unified also distributes, having acquired and distributed domestically the Italian-language film Don’t Move, starring Penelope Cruz, who won several awards for the film, including the Di Donatello (Italian Oscar) for Best Actress.

“Having produced three very different films, distributed another, and setting out to make an animated feature with such tremendous worldwide recognition, we feel that Unified has established its roots and are looking forward to our upcoming slate,” said Kjarval.