Sony might co-parent ‘Tintin’ with Paramount

Eller is a Times staff writer.

It looks like Paramount Pictures may have found a co-parent for Steven Spielberg’s and Peter Jackson’s planned “Tintin” movie, which was orphaned after Universal Pictures opted out over financial concerns.

Sony Pictures is close to finalizing a deal to pick up half the cost of the 3-D motion-capture film, which is budgeted at $130 million before marketing expenses.

“Tintin,” to be directed by Spielberg and produced by Jackson, could begin production before the end of the year if negotiations conclude next week, as expected. Spielberg, who has wanted to make “Tintin” since 1983, when his production company, Amblin Entertainment, was based at Universal, had hoped to start shooting in September.


But after he and Jackson submitted a final budget and their rich profit-sharing deals to Universal, the studio passed, deeming it too risky. Under that deal, the picture would have had to gross $425 million in revenue before Universal and Paramount could break even.

Also risky is the fact that other motion- or performance-capture films, in which actors’ movements are recorded by sensors and fed into a computer and manipulated, have had a mixed track record at the box office. Sony’s “Monster House” grossed $140 million worldwide, and Paramount’s “Beowulf” $196 million -- far below the more than $400 million the studios need to earn their investment back on “Tintin.”

Officials from Paramount and Sony declined to comment on the negotiations.

Tintin, the subject of a Belgian comic book series about the adventures of a young reporter and his sidekick dog, has a loyal following abroad but is less well known in the U.S. Spielberg and Jackson hope to make two Tintin films, with Jackson directing the second.