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Elton John takes
his animated project to Miramax

Elton John takes
his animated project to Miramax

Weeks after Disney's new animation chiefs scrapped Elton John's musical Gnomeo & Juliet, the gay pop star has taken his project to Miramax Films. "I am very excited about working with Miramax," John said in a statement. "Gnomeo is an edgy concept, and Miramax is the perfect home to push the envelope in animation."

The animated twist on Shakespeare's tragic romance is set in the world of tacky garden gnomes. It will be produced in Britain, with lyricist Tim Rice still on board to collaborate with John on the songs, and Kate Winslet attached to voice Juliet. Rice and John won an Oscar in 1995 for their work on the Lion King song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight."

Gnomeo was in development for several years at Walt Disney Feature Animation, but was axed last month in the wake of Disney's purchase of Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar chiefs John Lasseter and Ed Catmull are reviewing all Walt Disney Feature Animation legacy projects while simultaneously developing new animated titles. Since Miramax is also owned by Disney, the transfer of the project went fairly smoothly. Miramax Films chairman Daniel Battsek used to work for Disney's international arm and has a longstanding relationship with John's Rocket Pictures banner. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gnomeo is the first computer-animated film to be produced by Miramax since Battsek took over from studio cofounders Bob and Harvey Weinstein in July. Animation veteran Baker Bloodworth is serving as producer and guiding production. He previously worked at Disney on 1991's Beauty and the Beast and 2000's Dinosaur. He was nominated for an Oscar in 2004 for Destino, an animated short initiated by Salvador Dali and Walt Disney in 1945. (Sheigh Crabtree, Reuters)

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