Essential Entertainment has signed a multi-picture deal with Gigapix Studios for five G and PG-rated live-action children’s films through its subsidiary Recess Films.

Essential’s president of worldwide distribution John Fremes will handle international sales on the slate and Anchor Bay has entered into a first-look deal to handle US distribution on the slate.

Under the domestic deal Anchor Bay will distribute across theatrical, home entertainment and television platforms with a commitment from Gigapix to fund a minimum P&A outlay of $6m and 600 screens per film.

Depending on how well titles test in advance screenings, each release may go up to $20m P&A spend and 2,000 screens.

Gigapix will produce the five live-action films ranging from $8-10m each and a single $20m CG-animated film over the next three years. Financial consultant Dominic Ianno played an integral role in structuring the distribution relationships and will serve as executive producer on the slate.

First to go will be The Return Of Captain Kidd, which Kern Konwiser will direct from a script he co-wrote with Jymn Magon and had been on the verge of production when it was caught in the temporary suspension of Iowa’s tax credit programme.

The parties said Gigapix, whose first production Captain Abu Raed is currently in domestic release through NeoClassics, had since been assured by Iowa State representatives that their film has an agreement in place and production is scheduled to begin in early 2010.

Gigapix said it expected to announce the next two live-action titles and the animated project within weeks.

Gigapix recently closed a P&A funding agreement with Geno Taylor, David Williams and Tony Chopelas’ new LA-based fund advisor and production company Main Stream Pictures and secured a lending facility with Capitoline Global Finance of Newport Beach, California.

“This is an exciting slate of films that are in the framework of classic kids action comedies like Home Alone and Goonies,” Fremes said. “These are films that have strong international appeal, universal themes, and broad comedic elements that we believe will work across all international platforms.”

“We are excited to be in business with the production team assembled at Gigapix and to have a worldwide distribution partner in Essential Entertainment,” Kevin Kasha, senior vice president of Anchor Bay Entertainment, said. “Quality kids’ films are going to continue to be a staple of family entertainment spending as they always have been.”