Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment are teaming with Tezuka Productions to turn the Japanese Manga Pluto into a live action/CG hybrid film. Pluto, which married a beloved Japanese cultural figure with the writer Naoki Urasawa and artist Takashi Nagasaki, has sold 8 million copies in Japan. The series updates characters from the Osamu Tezuka-created Astro Boy and sets the action in a world populated by giant robots and cybernetic citizens. Illumination, formed by former Fox Animation head Meledandri, came out of the gate this summer with a hit in Despicable Me. Meledandri follows with Hop, a live action/CG mix that bows April 2, 2011, with Russell Brand voicing the Easter Bunny. Right behind that is Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, the Ricky Gervais-created Flanimals, a new stop-motion version of The Addams Family with Tim Burton directing, and a sequel to Despicable Me, which has so far grossed north of $360 million worldwide.

“With Pluto, Naoki Urasawa has defined an imaginative world full of inventive action and adventure but it was his characters and heartfelt story that compelled me towards acquiring these rights,” Meladandri said in a statement.