By Xinhua writers Du Jie, Guo Peiran
BEIJING, April 23 (Xinhua) -- After successfully creating the "Ice Age" and "Rio" franchises, renowned animator Carlos Saldanha is working on his next big project: an adaptation of the children's book "Ferdinand."
The book, published in 1936, was written by American author Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson. It tells the tale of a bull who doesn't want to engage in bullfighting, and instead wants to smell flowers.
In Saldanha's eyes, the story tells more than that. "It talks about it's OK to be who you are and be different. You don't need to change," he said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
He's confident that the modern audience will accept the adaptation of the classics. "When a book becomes a classic, no matter where and when you read it, you're still gonna feel right."
"It is an old book but it is also a very current story that everyone can relate to," he said.
Walt Disney made a short animated film based on the story in 1938. Saldanha's version is scheduled to debut in 2017.
The animation director may also turn to directing live action "Rust", adapted from a post-apocalyptic novel of the same name written by Royden Lepp.
"The project is not green lit yet, but it's the project I am developing and I am looking forward to seeing if it is gonna happen. If it happens, it needs to be soon.
"It's something that I'd like to I have for future projects. It's trying to shoot an live action movie," he said.
The first installment of "Rio" was a box office success, grossing 485 million U.S dollars worldwide. The director came to Beijing to promote "Rio 2", which is still on the big screen both in China and the U.S.
The sequel continues with the stories with macaws Blu and Jewel, who in the new film take a trip with their children to the Amazon rainforest in search of their roots.
"Rio 2" has fared well in global box office, grossing about 275 million U.S. dollars worldwide in two weeks. But it has also received mixed reviews. But Saldanha is facing his critics head-on.
"I've heard people saying the film is more for kids. I tend to think it's for everybody and I find the second one more visually and musically interesting."
Although "Rio 2" contains some elements related to football, the Brazilian director disputed the theory that the film is a tribute to the upcoming World Cup games to be held in his home country this July.
"Rio is a personal story. It is a tribute to my culture. It is just the story with or without those events," he said.
Saldanha also directed or co-directed the first three installments of the "Ice Age" franchise, with the third "Ice Age" film pocketing 887 million U.S. dollars worldwide, including over 600 million U.S. dollars from outside the U.S.
Its earnings overseas are some of the highest ever seen for an animated film. The director's first visit to China also coincided with the 4th Beijing International Film Festival.
"China is a very exciting and fresh market with a lot of talented people. Hopefully we can have a good partnership in the future," he said. (Yang Xiaoqing has contributed to the story)
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