EXCLUSIVE: London-based GFM Films and Bill Schultz’s Home Plate Entertainment Company are teaming to develop and produce feature-length stop-motion animated pic, Codename Housewife: The Case Of The Missing Rock Stars (WT). The fish-out-of-water-meets-secret-agent musical comedy is based on the Korean short film, Code Name: Azumma: The Missing Rock Stars, and will be directed by Oscar-winner Will Vinton and Korean claymation helmer Hong Sukhwa. Jim Cox (FernGully, Oliver & Co) is writing the script.

Former Simpsons producer Schultz is producing with GFM providing next stage development finance together with UK-based White & Company. Animation will be carried out at the Pangao Studio in Beijing, under an agreement between China Film Group and Home Plate Entertainment. Chinese giant, CFG, which oversees distribution in the Middle Kingdom, will finance 50% of the total film budget and ensure a local release in summer 2018 in what is a growing animation market.Vinton, who produced the California Raisins ads in the late 80s, won an Oscar for his 1974 short, Closed Mondays, and has Emmy nominations for The PJs and Meet The Raisins!. He worked with Sukhwa to reimagine the Korean director’s Code Name: Azumma short into a feature project (see original promo below).

Evisioned as a PG slapstick comedy, Codename Housewife is centered around an ordinary, overworked and underappreciated housewife who finds herself recruited by an international security force in order to rescue a string of recently kidnapped world famous rock stars from a crazy uber-villain. “Tons of great musical celebrity appearances” are planned, say the filmmakers.

GFM will co-fund the movie, and handle world sales, outside Chinese territories. Having CFG involved is a smart bet. GFM’s Guy Collins says the company “is building working relationships with a growing number of Chinese producers, distributors, investors and studios.” The deal with CFG was negotiated with lead investor Hou Li, CFG’s Shalyn Liu and Schultz.

Schultz, whose credits include seven years of The Simpsons, and Tom And Jerry: The Movie, adds, “I have a true love for mixing music and animated comedy. There is nothing that makes the audience feel better than a hero who beats the villain and then breaks into a musical number that harks back to some of the most iconic pop music moments.”

Here’s a promo for Codename: Azumma: