Asterix comes to America

Miramax Films has acquired the rights to the French picture Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, based on a popular series of cartoon books, Variety reports. The series focuses on Asterix the Gaul and his sidekick Obelix as they defend their territory from the ancient Romans. Miramax also picked up the rights to the 1999 Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar, which, at a production cost of $40 million, was one of France’s most expensive films ever made. Christian Clavier and Gerard Depardieu will reprise their roles in the second movie, which is set for release in France in 2002. Miramax plans to release Mission Cleopatra first, but no date has been set. Though the original French cartoon books have been bestsellers across Europe for several decades, they remain relatively unknown in the United States. The first of the Asterix films was the most successful French movie ever made, earning $110 million worldwide. It is not yet known whether the movies will be released with subtitles, because the films also are aimed at children.