EXCLUSIVE: Singer/songwriter Katy Perry will star as the title character in Melody, an animated musical feature created, directed and produced by Jeremy Zag. Cross Creek’s Tyler Thompson will produce alongside Perry, Zag and Michael Gracey, The Greatest Showman director who helmed the upcoming big budget animated film Ladybug & Cat Noir Awakeningdonated by Zag’s Zagtoons.
Zag is also the director, producer and creator of the miraculous ladybug universe.
In this musical adventure, Melody is a kind-hearted, insecure singer who must overcome the evil plans of Rose Stellar, a jealous wicked pop queen who has vowed to destroy her. Set against the backdrop of New York City, Melody will take audiences on an adventure of song, laughter and heroic quest. In her arsenal, Melody has seven musical notes that set her apart and have magical qualities and help guide her moral compass. Perry is writing and performing songs for the film, and sparked to the themes of self-discovery and self belief that is key to the fulfillment of life dreams like the one she is living.
CAA Media Finance will represent worldwide distribution on the film next week in the Cannes Market, where Rocket Science will co-represent foreign sales.
Zag said the film has been in his head for years, but it was a challenge to crack the story line to convey a message of empowerment in a fantastical world that has music at its core. Having Perry as a collaborator, with her enthusiasm and her booming voice, helped bring things into focus. “It’s very complex, but after all these years I am happy I didn’t do it before because only now do I feel ready,” Zag told Deadline. “Melody is someone who has to believe in herself, and in order to do that, she has to learn to love herself before considering how people look at her. Big pop stars live in golden castles, they’re famous with paparazzi all around, but for a little girl there is passion and fear. And I’ve never seen anyone as creative as Katy, who so personifies this character.”
Perry said there is a good reason for that. “I am a 37-year old woman who still struggles with being insecure,” she said. “I’ve come to realize that everyone is insecure, and that if you are not, I wonder if you have some negative characteristics because of that. I’m such a big fan of the animation world, and because my daughter is two years old, I am more immersed than ever before. What resonated for me with Melody and her character from Ella is the overall storyline that she has to do with self-confidence. I’ve realized in laying the foundation for my own child to be fearless, confident and brave, that you cannot have enough films with such strong themes of empowerment.”
Perry didn’t start out the fiery songstress behind such supremely confident hit songs as Roar and fire work.
“I came up in a different generation from this one, where now there is feedback all the time that often comes in the form of comments, peer pressure and bullying,” she said. “Storytelling is a good way to help young people find their bravery and self confidence. For me growing up, all I needed was one person to help mentor me. I had that and I just kept swinging. I say peachy keen, jellybean all the time, but it definitely wasn’t always that for me when I started. There were many rejections, and many losses, almost a decade of that. I went to Los Angeles when I was 17, and I got signed and dropped by three record labels. I had two cars repossessed. But when I would go and busk at the Farmers Market on the street, people would stop, for a long time.
“So I knew I had something, and I just had to keep working on it and keep swinging. And if you keep swinging, the math starts to favor you, especially if you are really working on sharpening your craft and making it really good,” she said. “I think the first step for young people, is just trying, and engaging. I’m a big believer in trying everything once, and not to be on the sidelines. I am encouraging my daughter to be fearless, because she has a mother and a father who are fearless. You don’t want to live 10% of what life has to offer. Why not 100%? Melanie is a great character, self aware, she’s been through struggles in losing her sister de ella, who becomes a spirit guide. She goes to the big city, and she feels really alone. I’ve been through that process, leaving my little town of Santa Barbara and going to Los Angeles at 17, having to make a whole new set of friends. And almost having to rely on my imagination just like Melanie, who has to rely on her seven magical notes.
Thompson’s Cross Creek, whose past films include The Trial of the Chicago 7, Black Swan, American Made and Hacksaw Ridge, is next up with the Scott Cooper-directed The Pale Blue Eye with Christian Bale starring. Cross Creek is financing and producing.