Kung Fu Panda director boards 3D sequel to Rocket Pictures’ hit Gnomeo & Juliet; Rocket hires Carolyn Soper to help oversee the production; production set for early 2013 with Elton John composing original songs for the feature.

Elton John’s Rocket Pictures has hired Kung Fu Panda director John Stevenson to direct Sherlock Gnomes, the sequel to 3D hit Gnomeo & Juliet.

The sequel follows the characters from the first film, as they enlist the help of famous gnome-detective Sherlock Gnomes in solving the mysteriousdisappearance of gnomes from suburban gardens in England.

“John has the perfect sensibility for this movie, together with the vision to build on the first film to create a distinctive, fresh and action-packed adventure,” said Rocket CEO and producer Steve Hamilton Shaw.

Rocket Pictures has hired Carolyn Soper, former head of production at Walt Disney Animation, to join the company and oversee the production alongside Hamilton Shaw. David Furnish and Elton John will also take producing roles, with John composing original songs for the sequel.

Production is scheduled to commence early 2013. Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil, co-writers of Gnomeo & Juliet, are writing the screenplay. 

Stevenson previously directed DreamWorks Animation feature Kung Fu Panda, which earned nearly $635 million in worldwide box office and won 10 Annie Awards.

“I’m delighted to be joining the Rocket Pictures team for Sherlock Gnomes,” said Stevenson. “The first movie established a hugely appealing world and characters, and I’m excited by the challenge to build on this and deliver a blockbuster action movie, gnome-style…”

Rocket Pictures has acquired film rights to the New York Times best-selling series of books, NERDS, the popular stories by author Michael Buckley’s about kids who run a spy network from inside their elementary school.

Rocket is also currently producing Will Gallows and the Snake Bellied Troll, written and to be directed by Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2), alongside Rocketman, a biographical musical-fantasy film about the life of Sir Elton John, written by Lee Hall (Billy Elliott).

Stevenson is represented by CAA. Rocket Pictures is represented by UTA.