Step in Time.New Line may still be looking for its next Prestige Picture (and a little something to get audiences through the turnstiles- The Last Mimzy, Shoot ‘Em Up, Mr. Woodcock, Martian Child, Rendition… well, you get the picture), but you’ve got to give them credit for extending their reach. How so, you ask? In a 40-year first, New Line has acquired an animation project: Planet 51.

No doubt a play on Nevada’s Martian Guantanamo, Planet 51 was penned by Shrek co-writer Joe Stillman and involves green skinned xenomorphs, what looks to be a stranded high steppin’ astronaut and the little alien who loves him. It’s like ET in reverse… but with more flatulence and belching. Of course, having written that, I’m instantly reminded of watching Pixar’s Cars for the uptwentieth time (thanks to a vehicular-loving two year old) and finally registering a car fart via ‘Mater– so much for my standard pro-Pixar argument.

Continuing the Spanish renaissance in Hollywood, Planet 51 comes from Ilion Studios, where it’s been in development since 2002. With the acquisition, New Line hopes to lure the fickle family market to theaters in 2009. Naturally, they’re planning an onslaught of merchandising (including the obligatory video game tie in) to go with it.

As mentioned, the family market’s a real fickle bitch– demanding "wholesome movies" then promptly leaving them out to dry when studios deliver the goods (Bite me, The Nativity Story!). CGI seems to be the best bet with the whole thing, but even that’s not a slam dunk thanks to the last few years disgorging of a CGI animation glut.