It's family life again for Niko, the flying reindeer
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
17/08/2012 - When Finnish director Kari Juusonen introduced Niko (photo) to the screen, the CGI-animated young reindeer defied his vertigo and set out to find his father, a member of Santa Claus' Flying Forces. Niko & The Way to the Stars [trailer] (2009) was sold to more than 100 countries through Germany's Telepool - in the US, CBS aired a 45-minute television edit, The Flight Before Christmas.
Niko wanted her single mom, his high-flying dad and himself to be real family again, but his father would not return. Instead his mother meets a new guy, an ordinary reindeer, who moves in with his little son. Niko's world is shattered, and it doesn't get better when his new stepbrother is kidnapped - but Niko saves him and learns to accept his new family.
Scripted by Hannu Tuomainen and Marteinn Thorisson, Niko 2: Little Brother, Big Trouble, Juusonen's follow-up to the first flying reindeer adventure, is co-directed by Danish director Jørgen Leerdam, and has been in production since last July on a €7.4 million budget - at the time, Finland's highest for a feature - with support from the Finnish Film Foundation.
Selected for Cartoon's 2011 European co-production forum, the fully-CGI-animated movie was staged by Tuomainen and Petteri Pasanen for Finland's Animaker, in co-production with Denmark's A.Film, Germany's Ulysses Films and Ireland's Magma Films. Nordisk Film has scheduled domestic release for December, while Germany's Global Screen (formerly Telepool) handles international sales.