‘The Little Prince’ to Open Santa Barbara Film Festival

Mark Osborne’s animated film features the voices of Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams and Ricky Gervais

The new animated version of the classic story “The Little Prince” will be the opening-night film at the 2016 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, organizers announced on Monday.

Directed by Mark Osborne and featuring the voices of Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Ricky Gervais, James Franco and Benicio Del Toro, the animated film premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and will be released by Paramount Pictures in March.

“The Little Prince” takes elements from the original book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and uses them in an original narrative by Irena Brignull and Bob Persichetti about a little girl who develops a friendship with an elderly neighbor as a way of escaping from the rigorous life of studying that her mother has meticulously mapped out for her.

“Saint-Exupéry’s novel is one of the most beloved works of the 20th century,” SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling said in a statement. “What Mark has done with this story is extraordinary and moving.”

“The Little Prince” will screen at the Arlington Theatre on Wednesday, Feb. 3 to kick off the festival, which runs through Feb. 13 in the coastal town north of Los Angeles.

The festival has a number of educational programs and film series aimed at young viewers. It will also present tributes to a number of awards contenders, including Brie Larson, Saoirse Ronan, Paul Dano, Johnny Depp and the cast of “Spotlight.”