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Tintin in Spielberg’s America to battle superheroes

Brussels, Dec. 10 (Reuters): Getting Steven Spielberg to make a Tintin movie could help the cartoon win more fans in the US, where their numbers are small enough to throw the boy reporter’s friend Captain Haddock into one of his tantrums.

Despite its legendary status in most parts of the world, the Belgian cartoon has not made much of an impact in a country where superhero Spider Man and sorcerer Harry Potter battle it out for the attention of young readers — and now filmgoers too. But the famous US director is in talks that could lead to a Tintin movie franchise to rival those blockbusters.

“Everyone is looking for the next Spider Man and Harry Potter,” said Nick Rodwell, who helps oversee the estate of Tintin creator Georges Remi, best known by his pen name Herge. Rodwell said a deal between Spielberg and Moulinsart, which handles the derived rights of the Herge Foundation, could come early next year, and the first movie could hit the screens in three or four years. The Herge Foundation has overseen Remi's estate since his death in 1983.

More than two million copies of the adventures of the intrepid reporter are sold every year in 58 languages, but only 100,000 of them find their way into the hands of US readers.

“We are nowhere (in the US) at the moment,” Rodwell told Reuters on Monday after the latest round of talks with Spielberg and his partner Kathleen Kennedy. “We want to get out of the ghetto,” he added, referring to the cartoon’s biggest fan base in France and the neighbouring Benelux region — Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

Moulinsart had been talking with people for years about making a movie but jumped at the chance to work with Spielberg when the director recently approached it.

A spokesman for Spielberg’s DreamWorks SKG studio in Los Angeles said the director, whose last movie was the hit Minority Report, would be interested in producing the movie with Kennedy at Amblin Entertainment for DreamWorks and Universal Pictures.

.Rodwell said it would be “a dream come true” to have Spielberg direct the reporter’s adventures, but it was still too early to tell whether he would do it.

Although he would want the movie to be faithful to the 23 books, Rodwell would defer to a Hollywood heavy like Spielberg. “The whole idea is a partnership,” he said. “We are not going to tell them how to produce a film, but we have experience (of Tintin) on our side.”

Rodwell said the challenge facing the producers would be reaching the widest possible audience. “We are going to have the challenge of making a film that keeps the Tintin fans happy as well as people who still have to to discover him,” he said.

The history of Tintin, whose first adventure in Russia was published in 1929, is not without controversy.

The cartoon appeared regularly in a pro-Nazi newspaper during the German occupation of Belgium in World War Two. Its creator was eventually arrested as an alleged Nazi collaborator after the liberation of the country in 1944.

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