Mac Guff, the Paris-based animation company behind Despicable Me, will take on the Gauls in a new 3D adventure fronted by Alexandre Astier. The French actor, writer and director revealed to the French site NoWatch.tv that he will pen and co-direct Astérix: Le Domaine Des Dieux, based on the comic Asterix The Mansions of the Gods. Set for release in 2014, the 3D animated feature will be produced by M6 Studios, part of the M6 Group, and distributed through SND in France.
This will be the fourth major Asterix feature since 1999’s Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar. It was followed by Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra in 2002 and Asterix at the Olympic Games in 2008, in which Astier starred alongside Gérard Depardieu. Find out more about Asterix and watch Astier’s interview (in French) after the jump.
Comics are a huge part of French culture and Asterix is probably one of the most famous series, translated into over 100 languages. Written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo, it was first serialized in the magazine Pilote in 1959, before being published independently. It follows the adventures of Asterix and his portly and less-than-intelligent friend Obelix who will go to any means to protect their village. Armorica, a province of Gaul (France) in 50 B.C., is one of the few remaining lands that Julius Caesar has yet to conquer and establish as part of the Roman Empire. But the villagers are hard to fight: a magic potion brewed by the local druid gives them temporary superhuman powers. Its success lies in the likable characters and the elements of adventure, fantasy and science-fiction. Yes, these Gauls were way ahead of their time, as were Goscinny and Uderzo.
Uderzo took over writing duties after Goscinny’s death in 1977. While diehard fans prefer Goscinny’s series, Asterix’s popularity remains consistent. It’s almost much comparable to Disney, albeit on a much smaller scale – there is even a theme park outside Paris called Parc Astérix.
It seems to be the perfect project for Alexandre Astier who has a sharp wit and a sense of adventure that most French writers and directors are afraid to explore. A household name in France, he rose to fame as the creator, writer and lead actor in the popular comic TV show Kaamelott, where he played King Arthur and employed practically every member of his family, including his parents and four children, in the cast. He even composed the music for the show. Here’s a clip:
Inspired by the stories of Camelot, Kaamelott kicked off in January 2005 in an enviable prime time slot on the TV network M6. Although each episode was initially only 3.5 minutes long, before running up to one hour each, it went on to become one of the highest-rated shows on French TV and ran until 2009. Astier has plans to adapt it to the big screen.
He gives NoWatch journalist Philippe Guedj more details and talks about directing Isabelle Adjani (Subway, Queen Margot) in the upcoming Mrs. Carlson at the recent TV Screenwriters’ Festival in Aix-les-Bains, France.