In an unusual deal, Universal Music Group has swooped to take all North American rights to Belgian director Ben Stassen’s forthcoming 3D animated feature Around The World In 50 Years.

The film is handled internationally by StudioCanal. UMG has also taken worldwide rights to the film’s soundtrack.

StudioCanal will distribute the movie in its own three territories (France, Germany and the UK)

The film, which is being made at Stassen’s nWave Brussels studio, will be released in late 2010.

Around The World tells the story of the epic journey of a turtle, starting in 1959, swimming through a world that is being changed by global warming. The time span of the film matches the history of rock and roll. “They (UMG) said it would make a great soundtrack using classic songs, some original songs and some covers,” Stassen told Screen.

Universal Music Group is the world’s leading music company with wholly owned record operations or licensees in 77 countries. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, the industry’s leading global music publishing operation. The Around The World deal represents one of its first forays into movies.

“Obviously, Universal Music Group is not a film distribution entity so they are going to collaborate with one of the major players in North America for the theatrical release,” Stassen added.

The announcement of the deal follows straight after the film’s presentation to an exclusive, invitation-only audience at Cannes, as part of the international sales rollout.