Bankside Films to launch Kensuke's Kingdom at Cannes Film Festival

Bankside Films announced its acquisition of animated feature Kensuke's Kingdom to be directed by Neil Boyle and Kirk Hendry from a script written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce. 

Neil Boyle is a director and animator with credits that include Sherlock Gnomes, The Simpsons, Ethel and Ernest, Space Jam and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Kirk Hendry is an award-winning filmmaker who directed Junk, which was nominated for a British Independent Film Award.

The screenplay for Kensuke's Kingdom has been written by BAFTA nominee Frank Cottrell-Boyce (The Railway Man, 24 Hour Party People, Hilary and Jackie) and is adapted from War Horse author Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling children’s novel of the same name. 

Producers for the film are Sarah Radclyffe, who co-founded Working Title and has since produced or executive produced over 30 feature films, award-winning producers and founders of animation studio Lupus Films, Camilla Deakin and Ruth Fielding (Ethel and Ernest, The Snowman and The Snowdog, We're Going on a  Bear Hunt), BAFTA nominee Barnaby Spurrier (Somers Town), and Stephan Roelants (Ernest & Celestine, Song of the Sea, The Breadwinner).

Executive Producers are Bill Godfrey, Courtney Pledger and Tim Morris.  Associate Producer is Anna Webster. Co-Producers are Jigsaw Films, Lupus Films, Melusine Productions and Windmill Lane Pictures. The film will be a co-production between the UK, Luxembourg and Ireland.  Development of the project has been supported by the BFI, Film Fund Luxembourg and Ffilm Cymru Wales.

Storyboarding and main animation production will take place in the UK at Lupus Films’s studio in London overseen by Camilla Deakin and Ruth Fielding, with additional animation and colouring at Melusine Productions in Luxembourg overseen by Stephan Roelants and compositing, VFX and post-production at Windmill Lane in Ireland overseen by Ciaran Crowley, Head of Windmill Lane VFX.

Kensuke’s Kingdom tells the story of Michael, who is taken by his family on a round-the-world sailing trip.  When a storm strikes he is washed overboard and ends up on a remote island in the Pacific where he struggles to survive on his own. Unable to find food or water, as the boy and his dog curl up to sleep, Michael knows they cannot last long.

But he soon realises there is someone close by, someone who is watching over him and helping him to stay alive. Following a close-run battle between life and death, the mysterious Japanese stranger - Kensuke – reluctantly allows Michael into his world and they begin to form a friendship. But something threatens to destroy the fragile world Kensuke has created on the island, and they must use all their courage, skills and resourcefulness to try to save it. Kensuke's Kingdom is a thrilling adventure story with a poignant ecological message that will resonate with audiences across the world.

Bankside will introduce the project to international buyers at the forthcoming Cannes Film Festival. Production on the film is expected to commence in Autumn 2018.

Stephen Kelliher of Bankside Films said: “Kensuke's Kingdom is an incredibly special story which has so much relevance to the world we live in today.  Adapted from first class source material, it comes from a world class creative team who will execute the animation exquisitely, delivering a moving story which will resonate with audiences young and old”

Author, Michael Morpurgo said: “Of all the books I have written it is Kensuke's Kingdom that without question remains the most well-loved. And now it is to be an animated film for which Frank Cottrell-Boyce has written a wonderful screenplay that reflects the spirit of the story, with its strong message of the importance of reconciliation and friendship, and of living in harmony with our fellow creatures and with the world about us. It is certainly an ever more relevant story. And this is animation film-making and writing at its best, bringing to the story great emotional power. They have taken the best of the book and made it better. I am sure this will be a remarkable film that millions will love. I can’t wait to see it!”

Screenplay writer, Frank Cottrell-Boyce said: “Kensuke's Kingdom has everything you wish for in a thrilling adventure - storms at sea, shipwrecks, lost islands, mysterious strangers and majestic animals. But it’s got something more. In the end it’s a story about our fragile environment and how we can protect it.  It comes along at a time when young people are more aware of this than ever.”

Directors Neil Boyle and Kirk Hendry said: “It is amazing how many parents and children have told us that Kensuke's Kingdom is their favourite book. The story has real staying power and that is down to the memorable characters and resonant themes Michael Morpurgo has woven into it. We are really looking forward to using the magic of animation to translate this novel into a spectacular and heart-warming big screen adventure for audiences of all ages. We can't wait to begin.”

The producers said: “We are passionate about bringing this universally appealing story to the screen.  We are delighted that Bankside have come on board and look forward to working with Stephen and his team”.