By Jay A. Fernandez and Borys Kit
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - DreamWorks Animation is moving forward with an untitled feature about a ghost who is bad at his job and must return to ghost school.
The project, referred to internally as "Boo U.," is being considered for release in the fourth quarter of 2012. Jon Vitti ("The Simpsons Movie") recently was brought on board to write the script. Tony Leondis ("Igor") will direct.
In late May, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose contract recently was extended to 2013, said a "supersecret ghost project" was on the books for a potential late-2012 slot. "Boo U." is that project.
Another ghost-centric film, referred to as "Freakers," was being written by Joe Syracuse & Lisa Addario ("Surf's Up") and centers on a ghost story told from the ghosts' point of view. That project is no longer active.
A third ghost-related story idea is in the pitch stage.
The studio's "Puss in Boots" and a third "Madagascar" movie also are slated for release in 2012 -- in March and May, respectively. The ghost picture would hit theaters November 12, unless the caveman comedy "The Croods" or the Terry Pratchett adaptation "Truckers" makes the cut instead.
Katzenberg has mandated that all future projects be made in the 3D format. The studio's most recent 3D release, "Monsters vs. Aliens," has grossed $362 million worldwide.
Vitti has been a writer and producer on "Saturday Night Live," "The Larry Sanders Show," "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill." He also worked as a story consultant and writer on "Ice Age," "Robots," "Ice Age: The Meltdown," "Alvin and the Chipmunks," "Horton Hears a Who!" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," which hits theaters Christmas Day.
Leondis has worked on the animated films "The Prince of Egypt," "The Road to El Dorado" and "Home on the Range."
(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)