Puffin Rock: Feature film deal for Derry animation

puffin rock characters Image copyright Dog Ears
Image caption The movie will feature the characters from the animated series as they work to save their island

An Emmy-nominated cartoon series developed in Londonderry featuring a family of Irish puffins is to be the first animated feature length film produced in Northern Ireland.

The Puffin Rock Movie is set for release in the spring of 2021.

It is being made by Derry-based media firm Dog Ears and Kilkenny-based Oscar nominees Cartoon Saloon in partnership with the China Nebula Group (CNB).

The film will be filmed in Derry, Kilkenny and in Tianjin in China.

The movie follows the huge international success of the animated series aimed at pre-school children.

Fionnuala Deane, Managing Director of Dog Ears, said there was much excitement around the movie deal, signed by the Irish media firms and Penguin Books, part-owner of the Puffin Rock brand.

She said the Derry firm, who set up an animation studio in the city to produce the series, has "big hopes for it reaching family audiences across the globe".

"We're delighted to announce the production of the Puffin Rock Movie and to welcome our new partners Chinese Nebula Pictures on board."

Narrated by Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, Puffin Rock has been broadcast on RTE, Nickelodeon, Netflix and on Tencent in China and has enjoyed huge success since first airing in 2014.

In China alone, the series has been streamed more than 170 million times.

The series was nominated for an International Emmy Kids Award in 2017.

The movie's plot will see the series' hero Oona work to save the wild Irish island on which the puffins live, and work to save a precious little egg.

Northern Ireland Screen, one of the film's funders, said it was the first full length animated feature to be produced in Northern Ireland.

The film will explore themes of belonging, courage and friendship, the movie makers said.

Image copyright Dog Ears
Image caption Puffin Rock characters make friends and hunt for food across Ireland

It is being co-funded by CNB, Northern Ireland Screen and Screen Ireland.

"We are thrilled that the Puffins are migrating to the big screen," Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen said.

He added: "This news speaks volumes for the growth and future potential of the animation sector here. We wish Dog Ears every success as they embark on this exciting project."

Paul Young, CEO of Cartoon Saloon, said the movie "has lots of laughs and thrills for younger viewers."

"We expect The Puffin Rock Movie will be their first cinema experience," he said.

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