Pixar Has Oscar Competition as Sony Classics Acquires Chomet’s ‘The Illusionist’

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Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Well, not only do I think How to Train Your Dragon can give Pixar’s Toy Story 3 competition at the upcoming Oscars, now I’m confident Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist will. Coming as no real surprise, Sony Pictures Classics has announced they’ve acquired North American distribution rights to the film based on an unproduced screenplay by Jacques Tati (M. Hulot’s Holiday).

Sony Classics distributed Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville in 2003 and it then went on to be nominated for two Oscars, including Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“Belleville Rendez-Vous”). Triplets ended up losing to Finding Nemo that year setting up an interesting bit of competition.

I have brought you a variety of assets from The Illusionist already so you should be well aware of the film, which details the story of a dying breed of stage entertainer whose thunder is being stolen by emerging rock stars. Forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theaters, garden parties and bars, he meets a young girl who changes his life forever. Sony Classics has planned for an end of year release.

Of course, the film isn’t without its own bit of controversy as the family of Tati’s illegitimate and estranged eldest child, Helga Marie-Jeanne Schiel, who lives in the north-east of England, are calling for Chomet to give her credit as the true inspiration for the film. Vanessa Thorpe at The Guardian quotes Tati’s grandson, Richard McDonald, saying, “The sabotaging of Tati’s original L’illusionniste script, without recognising his troubled intentions, so that it resembles little more than a grotesque, eclectic, nostalgic homage to its author is the most disrespectful act.”

The McDonalds’ claims have been researched and verified and the article discussing the situation is a bit interesting for fans of Tati, even if the charges against Chomet – who was given the script by Tati’s daughter, Sophie, two years before her death – seem a bit over-the-top. Click here for the full story.

I have again attached the Russian trailer for the film to this post and you can click here to browse the RopeofSilcon gallery of 34 pictures.

The Illusionist is part of the RopeofSilicon “The Contenders” section detailing every step of the way leading to the upcoming Oscars so be sure and boomark the page to stay up-to-date.