Paramount signs Verbinski, Johnny Depp for animated film Rango

Mumbai: Paramount Pictures has signed Gore Verbinski to direct his first animated feature film Rango, starring Johnny Depp, who will voice the title character. Release is set for March 2011.

The screenplay was written by screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street). Rango will be produced by Verbinski’s Blind Wink Productions, Graham King (The Departed) and John Carls (Open Season). The animation for Rango will be provided by the San Francisco-based Industrial Light and Magic.

Rango is Verbinski’s first animated feature. He directed the Pirates of the Caribbean blockbusters, which grossed nearly $2.7 billion worldwide. Depp starred in all three movies as the swashbuckling Jack Sparrow, and earned an Oscar nomination for the first film.

Verbinski is already experienced in CG animation and will be employing techniques he developed with ILM in the creation of the Davy Jones character in the Pirates movies, which won the 2006 Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

"We’re delighted to be partnering with Verbinski on Rango," said Paramount Film Group president John Lesher. "The combination of Gore’s exciting vision and the talents of Logan and Depp make Rango a great tentpole for Paramount’s 2011 slate," added Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore.

"Rango is an oddly charismatic character that is perfectly suited for Depp’s extraordinary abilities," said Verbinski. "The techniques we are employing will allow us to capture and translate every aspect of Depp’s performance, using it to drive the computer-generated character in a way that has yet to be seen in an animated feature. This is not a disembodied voice: Depp is Rango. We are creating something that will resonate with a broad audience and stick in the minds of kids all across the globe. The characters and circumstances are feeling buoyant and rich in humor and attitude, yet with a surprising emotional depth. I am tremendously excited about the support and enthusiasm we have received at Paramount."