UK and French producers are going head-to-head on similar-themed films.
2 May 2011 - 10:46 AM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2012 - 4:30 AM

The Hollywood studios occasionally find themselves making movies on the same subject, often to the detriment of one or the other, but it's rare for European producers to embark on rival projects.

So it's strange to see two new versions of War of the Buttons being produced in France and two remakes of The Hunting of the Snark in the UK.

The Buttons projects are adaptations of Louis Pergaud's 1912 novel War of the Buttons, which chronicled the fierce conflict between two gangs of boys in neighbouring villages and inspired Yves Robert's 1961 hit and a 1994 version directed by John Roberts.

Shooting simultaneously are Yann Samuell's film which updates the setting to the 1960s and features Eric Elmosnino, Alain Chabat and Mathilde Seigner; and Christophe Barratier's film set in 1944, which reunites the director (pictured) with his stars of The Chorus, Gérard Jugnot and Kad Merad.

Budgeted at €12.8 million ($A17.3 million), Samuell's film is produced by One World Films as a co-production with TF1 Droits Audiovisuels and TFI Films Production, with TFI International handling foreign sales. His script remains fairly faithful to the original story but introduces a new female character, the mother of one of the warring kids played by Seigner.

La Petite Reine is producing Barratier's film on a similar budget with backing from the ubiquitous TFI Films Production as well as Studio 37 and Canal +. Wild Bunch has pre-sold the picture to a bunch of territories including Switzerland, Canada, Spain, Greece, Czech Republic, Colombia and Taiwan.

At least there are notable points of difference between the two competing versions of The Hunting of the Snark inspired by Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem: one is live action, the other is animated with contemporary touches.

Christopher Lee is narrating Mc Films' live action fantasy, the saga of an impossible voyage by an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature, directed by Michael McNeff. The cast includes Richard Tanner as the Uncle, Ryan Culver as the Billiard Marker, Aidan Marus as the Bonnet Maker and David Collier as the Baker.

Saranne Bensusan is writing and directing the stop-motion adaptation for 3rd Story Productions and Lawrence Mallinson Productions. Bensusan and fellow animator Mallinson are adding extra scenes, characters and devices such as the Snark-hunting crew being guided by a satellite navigation system. The voice talent includes Jøerg Stadler, Nigel Osner and Maia Krall Fry.

“I chose The Hunting of the Snark because it was very off the wall and allowed me to be creative and just as nonsensical as Lewis Carroll himself,” Bensusan told Cineuropa.

“I think that had this not been a Lewis Carroll story, some of the ideas I had would have just been crazy.” The animation shoot begins in August.

The Snark tale was first adapted for the screen in 1987 as a musical by Mike Batt conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, followed by short films in 1989 and 2009.