Tintin: Spielberg-Peter Jackson Collaboration

Nov 3, 2008–DreamWorks and Paramount will co-finance “Tintin,” Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson¬ís digital 3-D picture, based on the Belgian “Tintin” comics.

After Universal balked at partnering on what’s hoped to be the first installment in a franchise, with Spielberg to direct, Paramount offered to fully back the movie with a reduced backend at $135 million for the two participants. When the filmmakers held out for a better deal, a partner became a viable alternative.

Spielberg had hoped to be in production by fall. However, when financing fell apart at Universal, he lost the participation of his lead actor, Thomas Sangster. “Tintin” is expected to be completed in time for a 2010 release.

Paramount is planning to distribute in North America and some other English-speaking territories, while Sony would handle the foreign release. “Tintin” would no longer have any association with DreamWorks.

Spielberg and Jackson were originally teaming to direct and produce 3 features based on Georges Remi¬ís comicstrip hero Tintin. They selected three stories from Remi¬ís “The Adventures of Tintin” series, which encompassed 23 books published between 1929 and 1976 about an intrepid junior reporter and his dog Snowy, who track down stories to the ends of the Earth.

“Tintin” has long been a passion project for Spielberg; he and Kathleen Kennedy have held rights to the comedic adventure book series off and on for more than 25 years. Jackson also has long been a fan of the comicbooks. His New Zealand-based Weta Digital, the f/x house behind “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, produced a 20-minute test reel bringing to life the characters created by Remi, who wrote under the pen name of Herge.

The films are expected to be lensed using photorealistic performance-capture techniques. With Sony on board and a second Jackson lensed film not yet financed, it is unclear what Weta Digital¬ís involvement will be on the “Tintin” franchise.