Major Korean distributor Lotte Entertainment has announced that it will become the main investor in Outback, an English-language 3D animated feature. The deal is a first for a Korean company.

The Outback script was written by Tim Hill, director of Alvin And The Chipmunks and Garfield: A Tale Of Two Kitties.

To be presented by Lotte Entertainment, the $5.3m animation is being produced by LA-based The Animation Picture Co. in the US and Goyang-based DigiArt Production in Korea. The companies’ credits include animations such as Shark Bait, Garfield’s Fun Fest and Garfield Gets Real.

The animation is being directed by Kyung Ho Lee, who previously co-directed Garfield Gets Real.

Outback follows an albino koala named Owen as he develops from a shy creature teased by the other bush animals for about his colour to circus star and, just as quickly, a has-been. He redeems himself by becaming an action hero rescuing other animals from the clutches of dingoes and crocodiles before falling in love with a koala bellle.

UK-based SC Films is handling sales. Lotte Entertainment said Outback did pre-sales of a total of $3m at last year’s Cannes and AFM, including deals to Xpand for Spain, Mediafilm for Italy and Playarte for Brazil.

The film is due for completion by the second half of 2011.