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Kung Fu Panda director to helm animated Noah film
Ark
The ark in "Noah," from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises. - photo by Paramount

Another version of the story of Noah is headed to the big screen from Unified Pictures, and while it’s unclear whether it will be any more faithful to the biblical source material than the recent sci-fi/fantasy-inflected version by Oscar-nominated auteur Darren Aronofsky, it’s nabbed a director that should go down better with family audiences.

John Stevenson, an Oscar nominee himself for “Kung Fu Panda” in 2008, has been brought on board to direct the new 3-D animated feature, according to Variety.

This version of the story will differ from Aronofsky’s in more ways than just being animated. It will be told from the perspective of the animals on the ark, not their human stewards, and it will feature musical numbers.

“John Stevenson is among the finest storytellers and animation filmmakers in the business and brings with him a wealth of experiences,” Unified Pictures president Keith Kjarval said, as quoted by Variety. “His unique ability to personalize this global story with tremendous heart and humor is sure to make this an inspiring film for all ages.”

Along with “Kung Fu Panda,” which was his first feature directorial credit, Stevenson worked as a story artist on films like “Shrek” and “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas” for DreamWorks Animation.

Before that, Stevenson also worked in the art department on numerous Jim Henson films like “The Great Muppet Caper,” “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth.”

Unified Pictures first announced plans for a Noah film back in 2007.

At the time, Unified co-founder Kurt Rauer, who is set to co-executive produce the new film alongside Kjaval and Stevenson, told comingsoon.net: “Our approach to this universal story will be to create a timeless look that is both traditional in its artistry and novel by its use of modern technology and software. In the end, we believe that ‘Noah’ will be looked upon as a high watermark in the animated genre.”

Since then, the project has undergone a few changes, including the species of the main character, who went from meerkat to groundhog to aardvark.

According to the current synopsis posted on Unified Pictures’ official website, the story will follow “An outcast aardvark by the name of Gilbert, who becomes the reluctant leader of a ragtag group of misfit animals that need to be led to the mighty ark before the impending flood. Along their journey, they band together to conquer unforeseen obstacles, and ultimately, Gilbert discovers within himself the inner strength and ingenuity to prove that in a world of ‘twos,’ he was truly destined to be ‘the one.’”

All in all, it looks like Noah is becoming a popular subject for films, especially animated ones.

As detailed by patheos.com, several other animated versions of the story of Noah have been announced as being in development over the last few years, including one from Ben Affleck’s brother Casey Affleck at Warner Bros. (also starring an aardvark) called “Aardvark Art’s Ark” and one based on a novel by Geraldine McCaughrean called “Not the End of the World.”