New York-based Classic Media has started production on 3-Danimated film Peter Cottontail: The Movie, inspired by the TV special HereComes Peter Cottontail and ready for delivery by spring 2005.

Toy Story producer Ralph Guggenheim is producing the film alongsideEvan Baily, Classic Media's head of production, and Sandra Walters, a partnerin Australia's Kapow Pictures. Mark Gravas, creator and supervising director ofNickelodeon's TV series Yakkity Yak, is directing. Principal animation hasbegun at Ambience Studios in Sydney, Australia.

Classic is currently in discussions for a US distribution dealwith a number of studios. Doug Schwalbe, head of international at Classic, isrepresenting the film internationally at Cannes.

The film follows Peter Cottontail's son Junior on a quest to savespring from the evil Irontail who has sent the peaceful land of April Valleyinto an endless winter.

"The creative team we have assembled for the new Peter Cottontailmovie is some of the best in the animation field," Schwalbe told Screen.

Classic's library features a host of animated and live-actioncharacters including Casper, The Lone Ranger and Lassie. It iscurrently developing live-action features of Lassie, Mr Peabody &Sherman and The Lone Ranger with Columbia Pictures and Doug Wick andLucy Fisher's Red Wagon Productions.