EXCLUSIVE: Singer-songwriter Katy Perry will star in Melody, an animated musical feature film 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 directed the next big-budget animated film The awakening of the ladybug and the black catperformed by the Zagtoons of Zag.
Zag is also the director, producer and creator of the Miraculous Ladybug universe.
In this musical adventure, Melody is a kind-hearted and insecure singer who must overcome the evil plans of Rose Stellar, a jealous and evil queen of pop who has sworn 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 writes and performs songs for the film, and was introduced to the themes of self-discovery and self-belief that are key to realizing life’s dreams like the one she is living.
CAA Media Finance will represent the film’s worldwide distribution next week at the Cannes Market, where Rocket Science will co-represent overseas sales.
Zag said the film had been in his head for years, but it was a challenge to decipher the script to convey a message of empowerment in a music-centric fantasy world. Having Perry as a collaborator, with her enthusiasm and booming voice, helped bring things into focus. “It’s very complex, but after all these years, I’m glad I didn’t do it before, because it’s only now that I feel ready,” Zag told Deadline. “Melody is someone who has to believe in herself, and for that, she has to learn to love herself before wondering 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’s passion and fear. And I’ve never seen anyone as creative as Katy, personifying that character so much.
Perry said there was a good reason for that. “I’m a 37-year-old woman still struggling with insecurities,” she said. “I’ve come to realize that not everyone is safe, and if you’re not, I wonder if you have any negative characteristics because of it. I’m such a fan of the animation world, and because my daughter is two, I’m more immersed than ever. What resonated for me with Melody and her character was the overall storyline that has to do with self-confidence. I realized in laying the groundwork for my own child to be fearless, confident and courageous, that you can’t have enough movies with such strong themes of empowerment.
Perry didn’t start out as the feisty singer behind hugely confident hit songs like Roar and Fireworks.
“I came in a different generation to this where now there’s feedback all the time which often comes in the form of comments, peer pressure and bullying,” she said. “Storytelling is a good way to help young people find their courage and self-confidence. For me, growing up, all I needed was one person to help guide me. I got that and just kept swinging. I say bright peach, jellybean all the time, but it definitely wasn’t always that for me when I started. There have been many rejections and many losses, almost a decade of this. I went to LA when I was 17, and got signed and dropped by three record companies. I picked up two cars. But when I went to play at the Farmers Market on the street, people stopped, 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’re really working on honing your craft and make it really good,” she said. “I think the first step for young people is to just try and commit. I firmly believe in trying everything once and not being sidelined. I encourage my daughter not to be afraid, because she has a mother and a father who are not afraid of anything. You don’t want to live on 10% of what life has to offer. Why not 100%? Melody is a great character, self-aware, she went through hardship to lose her sister, who becomes a spirit guide. She goes to the big city, and she feels really alone. I went through this process, leaving my small town of Santa Barbara and going to Los Angeles at 17, having to make a whole new group of friends. And almost having to rely on my imagination just like Melody, who has to rely on her seven magic notes.
Thompson’s Cross Creek, whose past films include The Trial of the Chicago 7, Black Swan, American Made and hacksaw crest, is next with the directed by Scott Cooper pale blue eye starring Christian Bale. Cross Creek finances and produces.