Grindstone Entertainment has picked up North American rights to hit animated feature Legend Of A Rabbit from China’s Tianjin Film Studio.

Los Angeles-based Grindstone will distribute the English version of the film, which currently features a voice cast including Oscar-nominated Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile), Youtube sensation Rebecca Black and rising child star Claire Geare (Inception).

The $12m animation may receive a theatrical release, pending test screenings, and will go out through Lionsgate Home Entertainment in North America by the end of 2013.

The film is shaping up to be a major franchise after breaking sales records to become the best-selling animated film ever from China, with more than 70 territories sold worldwide. Tianjian is also producing two sequels, a 100-episode TV series and an online game, which will be rolled out on a planned schedule until 2016.

The deal with Grindstone was concluded by Tianjin’s head of international distribution Elliot Tong and Stan Wertlieb, head of acquisitions for Grindstone.           

Tianjin chairman Wang Da Fong said: “Grindstone has successfully distributed so many high quality pictures in the US, their understanding of family entertainment and strong marketing experience made us all feel very confident to be in such good hands.”

Grindstone president Barry Brooker said: “We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with such a trailblazing production company and content provider in China.Tianjin Film Studio really has their finger on the pulse of what’s working in the marketplace, and we look forward to partnering up with them on future collaborations.”

Tianjin is screening preview material of Rabbit 2 in Cannes, as well as launching sales on the 100-episode TV series, which is scheduled for China broadcast in the first quarter of 2013.