Mathieu Kassovitz To Direct Live Action-Animated Hybrid Film ‘Big War’


EXCLUSIVE: La Haine filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz is returning to the director’s chair to make English-language passion project The Big War, which will mark the first movie he has helmed in 13 years.
“This is a project I’ve been working on for twenty years,” Kassovitz explained about the live action-animation hybrid project, which he has scripted with The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride and Edward Scissorhands scribe Caroline Thompson.
“It is inspired by cult French graphic novel La Bete Est Morte, which was written during the Second World War,” says the Frenchman, also known for starring in movies including Amélie and Munich and hit TV series Le Bureau Des Legendes. “It reimagines that war as enacted by animals. The Nazis are the wolves who go after the ‘vermin’ — the rabbits — who represent the war’s victims. The story focuses on two rabbits who go after their family who have been taken away and on their journey they discover adventures and more rabbits who join their cause.”
“It’s a heartfelt, lovely story,” scribe Thompson told us. “We’ve been passing it between ourselves for quite a while. Mathieu is a wonderful person to work with and this has nudged me back into writing.”
The project now has fresh impetus with producer and animation specialist Aton Soumache aboard. Soumache is best known for big-budget animated projects such as The Little Prince and Miraculous: Ladybug & Cat Noir, the Movie.
“I’m shooting the movie with real locations and set-pieces and then the animal characters will be dropped in, so I’ll be shooting a movie that will be delivered to the animators,” says Kassovitz.
“We’re now in the design phase and looking for financiers and want to start production by the end of the year. We will have a budget in the $30M range and we’re in discussions with American and British actors whose names I can’t reveal just yet.” Kassovitz himself will also have a role in the movie.
While there is no seller attached at present, it’s possible that one becomes attached for the Cannes market next month.
The project will be Kassovitz’s third English-language film after Gothika and Babylon A.D. His last directorial outing was 2011 French action-drama Rebellion.
The three-time César winner was involved in a bad motorcycle accident last year but is now fighting fit and energetically working on two projects: The Big War, and a stage musical version of his classic 1995 film La Haine, which is due to open later this year in Paris.
Of the latter, Kassovitz says: “We already have deals in place to sell the show in the UK and U.S.”
Upcoming Kassovitz is among the ensemble cast in Terrence Malick’s long-in-the-works Biblical drama The Way Of The Wind, which filmed back in 2019. Like most of us, Kassovitz is in the dark as to the film’s release schedule. “This is Terrence Malick,” he laughs. “I have heard rumors but at the same time it doesn’t feel imminent. When we shot, Terrence filmed around five hours a day of usable film so it takes years and multiple editors to see everything. I don’t even know if I’ll be in it in the end.”


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